Since its inception in 1902, Popular Mechanics magazine has published speculation and predictions about the world of the future, but some confident declarations have missed the mark—the 1929 prediction that people of the future would wear asbestos clothing and the 1951 assertion that people would fly personal helicopters in place of cars haven’t materialized!
We do not know how long Joseph had been in prison at this point in the story. His total stay was about thirteen years (see 37:2; 41:46). In our passage, he acquired some new companions: the king’s cupbearer and the king’s baker, both important roles. In ancient Egypt, the cupbearer served as a confidant and political advisor to the king, whereas scholars describe the position of baker as a “Royal Table-scribe.”
Joseph had again risen to a trusted position within the prison and was given the task of attending to these new inmates. When he asked about their troubled expressions, both men said that they have had dreams. Ancient Egyptians believed that the gods communicated through dreams, but dream interpretation was a specialized science only for those trained in the art. In prison, they would not have had access to the experts.
Joseph, however, did not share their belief in the Egyptian gods or in mystically gifted interpreters. He responded: “Do not interpretations belong to God?” (v. 8) Even in prison, and even in conversation with powerful people who might have access to Pharaoh, Joseph was unafraid to stand for his God and for truth. One commentator puts it this way, “The events of the future lay in Yahweh’s hand only, and only the one to whom it was revealed was empowered to interpret.”
Concluding our intercession for the Bible professors at Moody, please add to your list Steven Sanchez, Eric Redmond, John Goodrich, as well as Jonathan Armstrong, director of the Center for Global Theological Education.