Parashat Vayeishev Part 7
Bereishit 40:01 – 40:23
Joseph Interprets Dreams
Some time after the events with Potiphar’s wife, two more prominent prisoners came to Joseph’s ward. They were actually colleagues of Potiphar, the chamberlain of the king’s butchers, who escorted them to his prison. The two prisoners were the chamberlain of the king’s cupbearers and the chamberlain of the king’s bakers.
What were their crimes? Basically, negligence. Pharaoh found a fly in his wine, so blamed the cupbearer for allowing the fly to get in the wine. Pharaoh also found a stone in his bread, so blamed the baker for allowing a stone to get into the bread.
One night, in prison, both the cupbearer and the baker had dreams. They were disturbed when they could not figure out the meanings of their dreams. Joseph spoke with them, and said that God may reveal the meanings of their dreams. So each man told Joseph about his dream.
The cupbearer dreamt of a blossoming grapevine with three tendrills. In the dream, the cupbearer took grapes from the vine and squeezed the juice into Pharaoh’s cup, and placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand.
Here is what Joseph said to the cupbearer: “In three days, Pharaoh will lift your head and set you free from prison and restore you to your position as chamberlain. That’s good news, isn’t it? Please, when you see Pharaoh, remember me, okay? Put in a good word for me, okay?”
The cupbearer promised to remember Joseph.
The baker dreamt of carrying three wicker baskets on his head, with a variety of baked goods in the top basket. Birds were eating the food in the top basket.
Here is what Joseph said of the baker’s dream (Though it says that Joseph said this to the baker, Torah scholars suggest that Joseph spoke to the cupbearer about the baker’s dream, and to the baker about the cupbearer’s dream.): “In three days Pharaoh will lift your head and have you hanged, for the birds to eat your flesh.”
In Pharaoh’s court the two crimes were compared:
The cupbearer handed a cup of wine to Pharaoh, and Pharaoh saw a fly in the wine. First of all, a little fly wouldn’t do any harm to the king. And secondly, the fly might have flown into the wine after the cupbearer already handed the cup to Pharaoh, meaning the cupbearer had no way of protecting the cup while it was not in his possession. Therefore the cupbearer was set free.
The baker handed bread to Pharaoh, and a stone was found in the bread. In addition to the harm a stone could cause Pharaoh had he bit or swallowed it, the stone had to have gotten into the bread – either while baking or otherwise – before the baker handed the bread to Pharaoh. The baker slipped up and showed lack of diligence, so he was found guilty and he was punished.
When the cupbearer was set free, he did not remember Joseph.