40 Some time later, the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt offended their master, the king of Egypt. 2 Pharaoh was angry with his two officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, 3 and put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the same prison where Joseph was confined. 4 The captain of the guard assigned them to Joseph, and he attended them.
After they had been in custody for some time, 5 each of the two men—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were being held in prison—had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own.
6 When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected. 7 So he asked Pharaoh’s officials who were in custody with him in his master’s house, “Why do you look so sad today?”
8 “We both had dreams,” they answered, “but there is no one to interpret them.”
Then Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.”
9 So the chief cupbearer told Joseph his dream. He said to him, “In my dream I saw a vine in front of me, 10 and on the vine were three branches. As soon as it budded, it blossomed, and its clusters ripened into grapes. 11 Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes, squeezed them into Pharaoh’s cup and put the cup in his hand.”
12 “This is what it means,” Joseph said to him. “The three branches are three days. 13 Within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your position, and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer. 14 But when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison. 15 I was forcibly carried off from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing to deserve being put in a dungeon.”
16 When the chief baker saw that Joseph had given a favorable interpretation, he said to Joseph, “I too had a dream: On my head were three baskets of bread. 17 In the top basket were all kinds of baked goods for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating them out of the basket on my head.”
18 “This is what it means,” Joseph said. “The three baskets are three days. 19 Within three days Pharaoh will lift off your head and impale your body on a pole. And the birds will eat away your flesh.”
20 Now the third day was Pharaoh’s birthday, and he gave a feast for all his officials. He lifted up the heads of the chief cupbearer and the chief baker in the presence of his officials: 21 He restored the chief cupbearer to his position, so that he once again put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand—22 but he impaled the chief baker, just as Joseph had said to them in his interpretation.
23 The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him.
(Genesis 40:1-23 NIV)
In Chapter 39, we saw Joseph begin his service to Potiphar, the captain of the king of Egypt’s bodyguard. The recurring theme was that the Lord was with Joseph, whether Joseph was serving his master faithfully or whether he was unjustly accused and thrown in jail. As we ended the chapter, we saw Joseph being put in charge of all the prisoners by the chief jailer.
As we begin Chapter 40, we see two more people being added to Joseph’s charge – the chief cupbearer and the chief baker for the king. Both men had somehow offended the king, and the king, in his anger, had thrown both men into jail.
Verse 4 gives us some insight into Joseph’s character. Verse 4 says that Joseph “attended them”. This word means that Joseph took care of them and ministered to them. Rather than ignoring them or treating them with scorn and abuse, Joseph cared for them.
Joseph was no stranger to injustice. He had been unjustly sold as a slave by his own brothers, and unjustly jailed by his master Potiphar based on the lies made up by Potiphar’s wife because Joseph turned down her romantic advances.
Verses 6 and 7 further demonstrate Joseph’s heart of kindness. Joseph noticed their dejected spirits, and asked them why they were looking so sad. Joseph cared about those under his watch, not just their physical well-being, but also their emotional state.
When the two men told Joseph why they were sad, Joseph was also careful to give God the credit for interpreting their dreams, not taking credit himself. Although the text does not explicitly say so, this implies that Joseph had a strong walk with the Lord and confidence in the Lord to watch over him, protect him, and provide for him.
After the chief cupbearer told Joseph his dream and Joseph related the meaning of the dream, Joseph asked the man to remember him when he went back to his former position of serving Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. Joseph lived with the weight of injustice each day, and looked forward to his freedom from prison just as the chief cupbearer was looking forward to his freedom and restoration that Joseph had prophesied.
On the third day, which happened to be Pharaoh’s birthday, both of Joseph’s interpretations came true. The cupbearer was restored to his place of honor, and the chief baker was put to death. Unfortunately, when the chief cupbearer was freed and restored to his former position, he forgot all about Joseph and went about his way.
In today’s story of Joseph and the cupbearer, we can draw some parallels between our life and our connection to the Lord. Like Joseph, Jesus was unjustly accused of wrong and arrested. And like Joseph, Jesus cares for us, not only our physical beings, but also our emotional state and ministers to us through His Holy Spirit.
Like the cupbearer, we sometimes get through a hard time, but forget the One who watched over us, cared for us when we were down, and gave us hope. We conveniently walk away, choosing not to remember the One who gave us our freedom.
May we develop a constant heart of gratitude, a thankful heart at all times, not trying to repay the Lord for all He does for us, but rather expressing our humble appreciation for all God has done, is doing, and promises to do for us as we walk with Him.