From the Prison to the Palace - Part 1

Genesis 39 - 40:19

The men who bought Joseph from his brothers were called Ishmaelites, because they belonged to the family of Ishmael.  (Ismael was the son of Hagar, the servant of Sarah in Lesson 9.)  These men took Joseph to Egypt.  How strange it must have seemed to the boy who had lived in tents, to see the great Nile River, cities crowded with people, temples, and the mighty pyramids!

The Ishmaelites sold Joseph as a slave to a man named Potiphar, who was na officer in the army of Pharoah, the king of Egypt.  Joseph was a handsome boy.  He was cheerful and willing in all that he did.  This caused his master Potiphar to favor him and trust him.  So after a time, he placed Joseph in charge of his house, and everything in it.  For several years Joseph continued in the house of Potiphar, a slave in name, but in reality the master of all his affairs.

Potiphar's wife was at first friendly to Joseph.  But she became his enemy because he would not do wrong to please her.  So she lied to her husband about Joseph.  Her husband believed her, and was very angry with Joseph.  He had Joseph thrown into prison, even though he was innocent of any wrong.

But Joseph had faith in God.  He believed that God would make things right.  While in prison, Joseph was cheerful, kind, and helpful like he always had been.  The keeper of the prison saw that Joseph was not like the other men around him, and he was kind to Joseph.

Soon, Joseph was placed in charge of all his fellow-prisoners, and took care of them; just as he had taken care of everything in Potiphar's house.  The kkeper of the prison had so much confidence in Joseph that he barely looked into the prison at all.  He knew Joseph would be faithful and wise in doing the work given to him.  Joseph did right, and served God.  And God blessed Joseph in everything.

While Joseph was in prison, two men were sent there by the king of Egypt, because the king was displeased with them.  One was the king's chief butler, who served the king with wine.  The other was the chief baker, who served him with bread.  These two men were under Joseph's care, and Joseph waited on them, for they were men of rank.

One morning, when Joseph came into the room in the prison where the butler and the baker were kept, he found them looking quite sad.  Joseph said to them, "Why do you look so upset today?"

One of the men answered, "Each one of us dreamed last night a very strange dream; and there is no one to tell us what our dreams mean."

For in those times, God often spoke to people in dreams; and there were wise men who could sometimes tell what the dreams meant.

"Tell me," said Joseph, "what your dreams were.  Perhaps my God will help me to understand them."

Then the chief butler told his dream.  He said, "In my dream I was a grape vine with three brandhes.  As I looked the branches shot out buds, and the buds became blossoms.  The blossoms turned into clusters of ripe grapes.  I picked the grapes, and squeezed their juice into King Pharaoh's cup, and it became wine.  I gave it to King Pharaoh to drink, just as I used to do when I was beside his table."

Then Joseph said, "This is what your dream means.  The three branches mean three days.  In three days King Pharaoh will call you out of prison, and will put you back in your place.  You shall stand at his table, and shall give him his wine, as you have given it before.  But when you go out of prison, please remember me, and try to find some way to ge me out of this prison.  For I was stolen out of the land of Canaan, and sold as a slave.  I have done nothing wrong to deserve being put into prison.  Do speak to the king for me, so I can be set free."

Of course the chief butler felt very happy to hear that his dream had such a pleasant meaning.  Then the chief baker spoke, hoping to have a good answer also.

"In my dream," said the baker, "there were three baskets of white bread on my head, one above the other, and on the top basket were all kinds of roasted meat and food for Pharaoh.  The birds came, and ate the food from the baskets on my head."

Joseph said to the baker, "This is the meaning of your dream, and I am sorry to tell it to you.  The three baskets are three days.  In three days, by order of the king, you shall be lifted up, and hanged upon a tree.  The birds shall eat your flesh from your bones as you are hanging in the air."

And it came to pass, just as Joseph had said.  Three days after that, King Pharaoh sent his officers to the prison.  They came and took out both the chief butler and the chief baker.  The baker thy hung by his neck to die, and left his body for the birds to pick in pieces.

The chief butler they brought back to his old place, where he waited at the king's table, and handed him his wine to drink.

You would think that the butler would remember Joseph, who had given him the promise of freedom, and had shown such wisdom.  But in his gladness, he forgot all about Joseph.  And two full years passed by, while Joseph was still in prison, until he was a man thirty years old.

Review Questions

1.  Who were the men who bought Joseph from his brothers?

2.  After they took him to Egypt, who was Joseph sold to?

3.  Why was Joseph thrown into prison?

4.  What did Joseph do for the chief butler and chief baker when they were brought to prison?

5.  What happened to the butler and baker after that?

The original illustrations are the copyright of Sweet Publishing and the downloadable compilations of them the copyright of FreeBibleimagesThe illustrations are made available for free download under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license.

Story is taken from "Mother's Story of the Bible," by Jesse Lyman Hurlbut, D.D.  Copyright 1905.

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