The Butler and the Baker

Scripture Passage: 
Genesis 40:1-23

INTRODUCTION:  Joseph is 28 years of age at the time of this chapter.  [He has 2 more years of prison (Genesis 41:1) and is 30 years old when he is exalted (Genesis 41:46).]  It has been 11 years since his brothers sold him into slavery.  God has always been with him (Genesis 39:3, 21) but deliverance always seems out of his grasp.  This chapter gives the breakthrough for which he had been looking.  But, as we will see, it is also part of a long drawn out plan.

  1. THROWN INTO PRISON (Genesis 40:1-4)
    1. The Offense of the King’s Servants (Genesis 40:1)
      1. The timing of the offense
        1. “After these things” - This points back to Genesis 39:21-23, where Joseph is promoted to watching over the prisoners and all of the activities of the prison.
        2. This demonstrates the beauty of God’s timing.  One of these men is going to be the way Joseph gets out of prison and into authority in Egypt.  If God had not waited until Joseph was ruling in the prison, Joseph would never have made it to ruling in Egypt.
      2. The offenders
        1. The chief butler
        2. The chief baker
    2. The Wrath of the Pharaoh (Genesis 40:2)
    3. The Imprisonment of the Servants (Genesis 40:3)
      1. Put in ward in the house of the captain of the guard
      2. This is the place where Joseph was bound.
    4. Their Keeping Given to Joseph (Genesis 40:4)
  2. DREAMS AND THEIR INTERPRETATION (Genesis 40:5-8)
    1. Two Dreams in One Night (Genesis 40:5)
      1. Both men had a dream in the same night.
      2. Each man had a different dream particular to himself.
    2. Sadness on Two Faces (Genesis 40:6-7)
    3. The Source of All Interpretation (Genesis 40:8)
      1. Each man had a dream, but had no one to interpret.
      2. Joseph points out that all interpretations belong to God (Daniel 2:47).
  3. THE DREAM OF THE BUTLER (Genesis 40:9-15)
    1. The Dream of the Butler (Genesis 40:9-11)
      1. A vine was before him (Genesis 40:9).
      2. In the vine were three branches (Genesis 40:10).
      3. It was as though the vine budded and blossoms shot forth and the clusters brought forth ripe grapes (Genesis 40:10).
      4. Then he saw Pharaoh’s cup in his hand (Genesis 40:11).
      5. The butler took the grapes and pressed them into Pharaoh’s cup (Genesis 40:11).
      6. Then the butler gave the cup to Pharaoh (Genesis 40:11).
    2. The Interpretation of His Dream (Genesis 40:12-13)
      1. The three branches are three days (Genesis 40:12).
      2. The growth of the branches pictures a restoration of life and responsibilities.
      3. Within three days Pharaoh will restore the butler (Genesis 40:13).
      4. The butler will deliver Pharaoh’s cup as in former times (Genesis 40:13).
    3. The Request of Joseph (Genesis 40:14-15)
      1. The request for kindness (Genesis 40:14)
        1. Think on me when it shall be well with thee.
        2. Make mention of me to Pharaoh and bring me out of this house.
      2. The miscarriage of justice upon Joseph (Genesis 40:15)
        1. Joseph was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews.
        2. Even in Egypt, Joseph had done nothing worthy of being imprisoned.
  4. THE DREAM OF THE BAKER (Genesis 40:16-19)
    1. The Joy of the Baker (Genesis 40:16)
      1. The baker is thrilled with the interpretation of the butler’s dream and expects a similar interpretation.
      2. This joy will be extremely short lived.
    2. The Dream of the Baker (Genesis 40:16-17)
      1. The baker had three white baskets on his head (Genesis 40:16).
      2. In the uppermost basket there was all manner of bakemeats for Pharoah (Genesis 40:17).
      3. Birds began to eat the bakemeats out of the basket upon his head (Genesis 40:17).
    3. The Interpretation of His Dream (Genesis 40:18-19)
      1. The three baskets are three days (Genesis 40:18).
      2. The removal of bakemeats pictures the loss of life and responsibilities.
      3. Within three days Pharaoh will hang him from a tree (Genesis 40:19).
      4. The birds will eat his flesh (Genesis 40:19).
  5. THE FULFILLMENT OF THE DREAMS (Genesis 40:20-23)
    1. The Birthday of Pharaoh (Genesis 40:20)
      1. The third day - the day appointed for the fulfillment of prophecies
      2. Pharaoh made a feast unto all his servants.
      3. Note:  This is one of two instances where birthdays are specifically mentioned in the Bible.
        1. In both cases a king makes a feast and in both cases a man is killed.
        2. Both of the punishments invoked at the birthday feast have to do with the head.  In one case a man is beheaded and in the other case a man is hung.
        3. The baker is killed here and the other instance is the birthday of Herod when John Baptist is beheaded.
    2. The Fulfillment of Prophecy (Genesis 40:21-22)
      1. The chief butler (Genesis 40:21)
        1. Restored by Pharaoh
        2. He again gave the cup into Pharaoh’s hand.
      2. The chief baker (Genesis 40:22)
        1. Hanged from a tree
        2. Just as Joseph had interpreted
    3. The Forgetting of Joseph (Genesis 40:23)

CONCLUSION:  God’s hand is still on Joseph, but there is yet to be any evidence of freedom.  While supervising in the prison, Joseph meets a butler who will soon be free and he requests that the butler remember him when restored to his position with Pharaoh.  The day of freedom comes for the butler and his memory of Joseph is forgotten.  Joseph, though in the center of God’s will, has no hope of freedom in sight.

David Reagan and Andrew Ray

Daily Proverb

Proverbs 29:12

If a ruler hearken to lies, all his servants are wicked.