Genesis 40:1 ¶And it came to pass after these things, that the butler of the king of Egypt and his baker had offended their lord the king of Egypt.
2 And Pharaoh was wroth against two of his officers, against the chief of the butlers, and against the chief of the bakers.
3 And he put them in ward in the house of the captain of the guard, into the prison, the place where Joseph was bound.
4 And the captain of the guard charged Joseph with them, and he served them: and they continued a season in ward.
5 ¶And they dreamed a dream both of them, each man his dream in one night, each man according to the interpretation of his dream, the butler and the baker of the king of Egypt, which were bound in the prison.
6 And Joseph came in unto them in the morning, and looked upon them, and, behold, they were sad.
7 And he asked Pharaoh's officers that were with him in the ward of his lord's house, saying, Wherefore look ye so sadly to day?
8 And they said unto him, We have dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter of it. And Joseph said unto them, Do not interpretations belong to God? tell me them, I pray you.
9 And the chief butler told his dream to Joseph, and said to him, In my dream, behold, a vine was before me;
10 And in the vine were three branches: and it was as though it budded, and her blossoms shot forth; and the clusters thereof brought forth ripe grapes:
11 And Pharaoh's cup was in my hand: and I took the grapes, and pressed them into Pharaoh's cup, and I gave the cup into Pharaoh's hand.
12 And Joseph said unto him, This is the interpretation of it: The three branches are three days:
13 Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thine head, and restore thee unto thy place: and thou shalt deliver Pharaoh's cup into his hand, after the former manner when thou wast his butler.
14 But think on me when it shall be well with thee, and shew kindness, I pray thee, unto me, and make mention of me unto Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house:
15 For indeed I was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews: and here also have I done nothing that they should put me into the dungeon.
16 When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was good, he said unto Joseph, I also was in my dream, and, behold, I had three white baskets on my head:
17 And in the uppermost basket there was of all manner of bakemeats for Pharaoh; and the birds did eat them out of the basket upon my head.
18 And Joseph answered and said, This is the interpretation thereof: The three baskets are three days:
19 Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thy head from off thee, and shall hang thee on a tree; and the birds shall eat thy flesh from off thee.
20 ¶And it came to pass the third day, which was Pharaoh's birthday, that he made a feast unto all his servants: and he lifted up the head of the chief butler and of the chief baker among his servants.
21 And he restored the chief butler unto his butlership again; and he gave the cup into Pharaoh's hand:
22 But he hanged the chief baker: as Joseph had interpreted to them.
23 Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him.
In these verses of chapter 40 there are many shadows of our blessed redeemer and the plan of salvation. Thank the Lord that the veil is not hiding these things from our Gentile view as it would from the larger part of the Jewish people in these days (As we read in 2 Cor 3:14 But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.)
The Offended Lord
We see in verse 1 there is an “offended lord”. The baker and butler had committed some crime worthy of punishment against their master, the Pharaoh, and of course we are sinners by birth and nature Romans 3:23 for all have sinned... or Jeremiah 17:9 the heart of man is deceitful above all things... Our offence is against a thrice holy God who is the creator of all things in existence and who demands holiness and purity of conduct in our lives but we were unable to reform ourselves, or regenerate ourselves, or indeed recompense the Lord for the injury caused. His justice and righteous judgement has concluded all under sin and death in the body followed by death in the spirit i.e. the second death, written on in Revelation 20:14, as the only just and righteous punishment.
We see in verses 3-4 and verse 23 there is the “suffering servant”. Joseph, who by this point in life had many trials and this imprisonment was his latest trial, was placed by the guard captain to serve the prisoners while they were in the prison. Similarly, Christ came to be a servant and not to be served as he washed the disciples’ feet, healed the sick and fed the hungry. We also discover that when the butler is restored to his position that he neglects the memory of Joseph before the Pharaoh and thus Joseph remained in prison, innocently so, for another while. Our blessed Saviour suffered rejection and mocking at the hands of many he came in contact with, and for the larger part John 1:11 He came unto his own and his own received him not... was the experience of Christ as he walked around Judea and Galilee. Similar to Joseph, the Lord was rejected, despised, forsaken and falsely accused.
The Prophetic Utterance
We see in verses 5-14 and verses 16-19 there is a “prophetic utterance” when the butler and baker recite their dreams to Joseph he is able, with the help and blessing of the Lord, to interpret the dreams and of course their fulfilment is exactly as Joseph foretold. Such accuracy in prophetic scripture is a sure sign of divine inspiration of the prophet and indeed we can draw comfort from them; trusting the Lord as ultimate author to perform his will in all things. Christ confirmed his ministry in fulfilling many prophecies from the Old Testament and many more future scriptures are yet to be fulfilled and the same level of hope can be derived in that, as certainly as he fulfilled scripture at the first advent, he will fulfil these future promises also. Beyond fulfilling prophecy Christ also gave more prophecies especially of the signs of the times and his return for his bride and of his second coming. In spite of the sin and apostasy around us we can rely on his word and be encouraged that he is coming quickly and his reward is with him. Prophecy is like a divine stamp and seal of authority for inspiration of the scriptures besides an encouragement to us even as stated in Romans 15:4 ...whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
The Promise to the Captive
We see in verses 13 and 19 a “promise to the captive”. Joseph was able to show the butler that although a prisoner there was hope of deliverance from his present incarceration. Although he was now abiding under condemnation there was hope of future deliverance. Isaiah 61:1 foretold of the coming Messiah that: The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound. The Lord Jesus confirmed himself as the fulfilment of these words in Luke 4:18-21 when he said ...today are these words fulfilled in your hearing. It would have been an idle boast for anyone else but the Lord went forth and through declaring the gospel, through confirming his ministry with signs, and fulfilling the New Covenant at Calvary he demonstrated that he was the promised Messiah and we rejoice today that captives may still go free.
The Accepted Cup
We see in verse 20 the “accepted cup”. The butler once returned to service offered the cup to the Pharaoh as he had in times past and it was accepted. The cup of the New Covenant in Christ’s blood might be in view here in a shadow. The evening the Lord Jesus instituted the remembrance feast he explained the symbolism of the cup representing the New Covenant. The writer to the Hebrews expanded more detail for us that Christ entered into the greater more perfect tabernacle, by his own blood entering in once, so that he might obtain eternal redemption for us. The LORD God now looks upon the blood and we are pardoned, forgiven, justified, sanctified waiting to be glorified with Christ in the day of his appearing. Our Saviour’s blood “...speaketh better things than that of Abel”. Christ’s blood speaks life and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. The blood of the covenant is vital, foundational and fundamental to our salvation for our whole redemption depends on it, without it we are lost, still in our sin, no covenant, no hope but the LORD has said: Exodus 12:13 “...when I see the blood I will pass over you” We are accepted in the beloved because of the precious shed blood of the lamb.
The Broken Bread
We see in verses 19 and 22 the “broken bread”. The baker dreamed about the baskets of bread being eaten by the birds and then, as Joseph had interpreted, he was also released after three days but he was put to death being hung on a tree. The broken bread and body of the Saviour might be in view here as a shadow. The lovely Lord Jesus was led to be crucified at Calvary bearing with him his own cross where he was then lifted up to die. His broken body was pierced, bruised and bloodied. We read in Isaiah 52:14 “As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men...” May the Lord help us never to forget that it was for us he died, my sin upon him, my guilt upon him, he bare my sin in his own body on the tree. The word of the Lord reminds us in Galatians 3:13 “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree” Those who know and love the Lord as their own personal saviour are forgiven today because of him and free from the condemnation abiding on all outside of Christ.
The Lord Jesus is fairer than the sons of men; he’s fairer than lilies of rarest bloom, he’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul. He’s more precious than gold and lovelier by far than sages ever told or poets ever sung. Yet greatest of all he lifts a beggar from the dunghill of sin to set them among princes and each one who comes to know him as Saviour can say this is my beloved and this is my friend. All because he gave his body and shed his blood on Calvary for sinners like you and me.