Genesis 41:1 to 44:17
Dreams are a major part of the Joseph saga. Torah tells us that God is the source of the dreams. As Joseph’s story unfolds we see how he uses these dreams to improve his life and the lives of those around him.
This is the second parsha in the four parsha Joseph story. Because of its length, it often called a novella. This week’s title Mikeitz – “At the end” – does not refer to the end of the story, but the end of Joseph’s time in prison which resulted from the charges brought by Potiphar’s wife…. “At the end of the two years’ time, Pharaoh had a dream: the he was standing by the Nile, when seven cows came up out of the Nile, handsome and fat. They grazed among the reeds. And now seven other cows came up after them from the Nile – repulsive and gaunt. They stood beside the other cows at the brink of the Nile. The cows that were repulsive and gaunt then ate the cows that were handsome and fat, and Pharaoh woke up.” (Gen. 41:1-4)
The actions taken as a result of dreams seem to power the action of the entire Joseph saga…..
- Joseph’s dreams that he related to his brothers – the sheaths of wheat belonging to the brothers bowing down to Joseph’s sheath. – the sun, moon, and eleven stars bowing to Joseph.
- The dreams of the cupbearer and head baker while Joseph was in prison.
- The dreams of Pharaoh, the first of which is shown above.
Joseph tells Pharaoh that God is the source of his dream interpretations. As the Joseph saga progresses we get the impression that the Eternal is also responsible for all the dreams…. Today, the common idea of dream source is a person’s sub-conscious where the brain reviews and sorts the thoughts and experiences of the past day.
Whether dreams are God inspired, or come from a person’s sub-conscious, an analysis of the dreams can provide valuable information. However, this information is not always apparent… as we see in the Joseph story.
If we look at Joseph’s dreams, we see how they affected his life. As the saga moves on, Joseph’s dream interpretation becomes more insightful.
First, when Joseph tells his brothers about his dreams. The brothers interpret these dreams to mean that they will all bow to Joseph. This implied arrogance of Joseph increased their disapproval of him. After relating the dreams, Joseph didn’t attempt to interpret them or take any significant action…. However, it can be argued that Joseph’s reaction when he meets his brothers in Egypt as Egypt’s second-in-command is in part a result of these dreams…. Ramban (Nachmanides) noted that Joseph requested his brothers to bring Benjamin to Egypt so that all eleven of the brothers would bow down to him and fulfill his youthful dream. But this action is about twenty years after the dream itself.
At the end of last week’s reading, dreams play a major role while Joseph is in prison. His dream interpretation for the royal cupbearer and head baker demonstrate the power of dreams when a thoughtful interpretation is added.
When Pharaoh asks for an interpretation of his dreams, Joseph adds another dimension to his interpretation… Whether the source of Pharaoh’s dream was God or Pharaoh’s own subconscious … the dreams presented a problem. Joseph interprets the dreams… then adds a solution.
God spoke directly to the Patriarchs; but, Joseph heard God’s voice through dreams. Then, Joseph took God’s message and applied it to the real world. Joseph is bringing the concept of the partnership of God and mankind to life.
The message for us, in the 21st century, is as real today as it was for Joseph. Whether the source of dreams is God… or our own self-conscious… dreams can offer insights to our own lives and problems…. And, with sufficient thought, solutions to our problems. The results may be both unexpected and profitable… just as they were for Joseph.