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Friday, February 23

Genesis 40: 1-23 (NRSV)

Some time after this, the cupbearer of the king of Egypt and his baker offended their lord, the king of Egypt. Pharaoh was angry with his two officers, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, and he put them in custody of the house of the captain of the guard, in the prison where Joseph was confined. The captain of the guard charged Joseph with them, and he waited on them; and they continued for some time in custody. One night they both dreamed–the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were confined in prison–each his own dream, and each dream with its own meaning. When Joseph came to them in the morning, he saw that they were troubled. So he asked Pharoah’s offices, who were with him in custody in his master’s house, “Why are your faces downcast today?” They said to him, “We have had dreams, and there is no one to interpret them.” And Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Please tell them to me.” 

So the chief cupbearer told his dream to Joseph, and said to him, “In my dream there was a vine before me, and on the vine there were three branches. As soon as it budded, its blossoms came out and the cluster ripened into grapes. Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand; and I took the grapes and pressed them into Pharoah’s cup and placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand.” Then Joseph said to him, “This is its interpretation: the three branches are three days; within three days Pharoah will lift up your head and restore you to your office; and you shall place Pharoah’s cup in his hand, just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer. But remember me when it is well with you; please do me the kindness to make mention of me to Pharaoh, and so get me out of this place. For in fact I was stolen out of the land of the Hebrews, and here also I have done nothing that they should have put me into the dungeon.”

When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was favorable, he said to Joseph, “I also had a dream that there were three cake baskets on my head, and in the uppermost basket there were all sorts of baked food for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating it out of the basket on my head.” And Joseph answered, “This is its interpretation: the three baskets are three days; within three days Pharoah will lift up your head–from you!–and hang you on a pole; and the birds will eat the flesh from you.”

On the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, he made a feast for all his servants, and lifted up the head of the chief cupbearer and the head of the chief baker among his servants. He restored the chief cupbearer to his cupbearing, and he placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand; but the chief baker he hanged, just as Joseph interpreted to them. Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.


At this point in Joseph’s story he has been sold into slavery, accused of crimes he didn’t commit, and thrown in prison for an indeterminate amount of time. After having faced all of this, it would be a reasonable reaction to withdraw from the world and hole up in your own little bubble; and yet, Joseph does the opposite. He remains grounded in his faith and extends grace and hospitality to his fellow prisoners, offering his gifts of interpretation to try and assuage the anxiety caused by their dreams. He does this without the expectation of reciprocation. Yes, Joseph does ask the cupbearer to remember him to Pharaoh when he is released, but only after he has already provided the interpretation of the dream; Joseph does not withhold his service in order to guarantee that the cupbearer repay him, merely asks if he would consider it upon his reinstatement. 

A common thread in Joseph’s story is one of waiting: waiting to be freed from slavery, waiting to be released from prison, waiting for some kind of justice for the things he has faced. Joseph’s ability to remain faithful and to rely on that faith to help others even in times of seemingly unending hardship offers an example for us during our own times of uncertainty. Lent can often seem like a time to turn inward, to withdraw from the world and prepare ourselves in our own bubbles for the upcoming struggles, but in the story of Joseph we are asked to consider if our faith would be better served by looking outside ourselves and extending our own grace and hospitality, even if we may not get anything in return.   


Psalm 130 (NRSV)

            Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications! If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered. I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning. O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem. It is he who will redeem Israel from all its iniquities. Amen. 

LeeLee Hunter

Go, Go, Go Joseph – Maria Friedman, Donny Osmond | Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat