Seven years of Plenty and Seven years of Famine

Genesis 41:1–14

In the first reading (עליה, aliyah), Pharaoh dreamed that he stood by the river, and out came seven fat cattle, who fed in the reed-grass.[4] And then seven lean cattle came up out of the river and ate the seven fat cattle, and Pharaoh awoke.[5] He went back to sleep and dreamed that seven good ears of corn came up on one stalk, and then seven thin ears sprung up after them and swallowed the good ears, and Pharaoh again awoke.[6] In the morning, Pharaoh was troubled and sent for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt and told them his dream, but none could interpret it.[7]Then the chief butler spoke up, confessing his faults and relating how Pharaoh had put him in prison with the baker, and a Hebrew there had interpreted their dreams, correctly predicting the future.[8] Pharaoh sent for Joseph, who shaved, changed clothes, and came to Pharaoh.[9]

Genesis 41:15–38

In the second reading (עליה, aliyah), Pharaoh told Joseph that he had had a dream that none could interpret and had heard that Joseph could interpret dreams, but Joseph said that God would give Pharaoh an answer.[11] Pharaoh told Joseph his dreams, and Joseph told him that the two dreams were one, a prediction of what God was about to do.[12] The seven good cattle and the seven good ears symbolized seven years of plenty, and the seven lean cattle and the seven empty ears symbolized seven years of famine that would consume thereafter.[13] The dream was doubled because God had established the thing and would shortly bring it to pass.[14] Joseph recommended that Pharaoh set over Egypt a man discreet and wise, that he appoint overseers to take up a fifth of the harvests during the years of plenty, and that he store that food for the years of famine.[15] Pharaoh agreed, asking whether anyone could find a man such as Joseph in whom the spirit of God was.[16] 


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