The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Book of Genesis
Then, two years afterwards, Pharao himself had a dream. He thought that he was standing by the Nile,
and out of its channel there came up seven heifers, sleek and well fattened, which began feeding on the river bank, among the reeds.
Then seven others came up, also out of the river, ill-favoured and ill-nourished; and these too stood grazing where it was green, close to the river.
And it seemed as if they ate up those other seven, that were so fine and well fed. With that Pharao awoke,
and when he slept again, it was to dream a second dream. This time, there were seven ears of corn growing from a single stalk, all plump and fair,
and another seven ears, all shrunken and blighted, came up in their turn,
to eat up the fair promise of the other seven. Pharao, then, awoke from his dream,
and as soon as it was daylight, he sent in great confusion of mind for all the diviners and all the wise men of Egypt. When they answered his summons, he told them of his dream, without finding anyone who could interpret it.
And now, at last, the chief cup-bearer remembered; I am much to blame, he said.
When thou, my lord, wast vexed with thy servants, thou didst commit me and thy chief cook to prison, with the captain of thy guard in charge of us;
and there, on a single night, either of us had a dream which foretold what was to become of us.
One of our fellow-prisoners, a Hebrew slave, belonging to this same captain, heard what our dreams were,
and gave us an account of them which the event proved right, when I was restored to my office, and that other was hung on a gibbet.
With that, the king sent to have Joseph released from prison and brought before him, with his beard shaved and new clothes to wear.
I have had certain dreams, he said, and no one can tell me the meaning of them; I have heard of thee as one who can interpret such things with sovereign skill.
No skill of mine is needed, said Joseph; the Lord will give Pharao his answer, and a favourable one.
So Pharao described what he had seen; I thought I was standing on the river bank,
and seven heifers came up out of the stream, sleek and well fed, that grazed on the rushes, there in the marsh-land.
Then, on a sudden, seven other heifers followed them, so pinched and starved that in all this land of Egypt I never saw the like.
These ate up the first seven, wholly consuming them,
and yet they shewed no sign of having had their fill; they languished there, as gaunt and wretched as ever. Then I woke up, but was soon plunged in sleep again;
and this time I dreamed that seven ears of corn, plump and fair, were growing from a single stalk,
until seven others, all shrunken and blighted, sprang up out of the stubble near by
and devoured all the fair promise of the first seven. This is the dream I have told to these diviners of mine, and none of them can tell me what it means.
My lord, answered Joseph, the two dreams are all one, God is warning my lord Pharao of what he intends to do.
The seven sleek cattle, the seven plump ears, have the same sense in the two dreams; they stand for seven years of plenty.
Whereas the seven gaunt, starved cattle which came up after them, and the seven shrunken, blighted ears of corn, prophesy seven years of famine.
And they will come about in this order;
first, there will be seven harvests of great abundance all over this land of Egypt,
and they will be followed by seven years of such drought as will efface the memory of the good times that went before them. Famine will ravage the whole country,
till the evil effect of the drought does away with all the good effect of those abundant harvests.
That thou shouldst have dreamed twice to the same purpose, is proof that God’s decree stands firm; what he foretells will come about, and there will be no delay in its fulfilment.
It is for thee, my lord king, to find some man that has the wisdom and the skill for it, and put the whole of Egypt under his charge.
He must appoint a commissioner for each region, to collect a fifth of the harvest during the seven years of plenty which are now upon us, and store it up in barns.
All this reserve of corn must be held at the royal disposition, and kept in the various cities,
to make provision for the seven years’ famine by which Egypt will be overtaken; if not, the whole land will perish for want of it.
The plan commended itself to Pharao and to all his courtiers.
And now he asked them, Where are we to find another man such as this, so full of God’s inspiration?
Then he turned to Joseph, and said, Every word thou hast spoken comes to thee revealed by God, and shall I look for some other whose wisdom can match thine?
Thou shalt have charge of my household and all my people shall obey thy word of command; thou shalt share all I have, except this royal throne.
Hereby, Pharao said to Joseph, I put the whole land of Egypt under thy care.
And with that, he took off the signet-ring from his own hand, and put it on Joseph’s hand instead; gave him robes, too, of lawn, and hung a gold chain about his neck;
then bade him mount on a chariot that was next in honour to his own, and would have a herald proclaim that all must do him reverence, and acknowledge him as ruler of the whole land of Egypt.
And he gave Joseph this assurance, On the word of Pharao, no one in all Egypt shall be free to move hand or foot without thy permission.
He gave him a new name, calling him in Egyptian Saviour of the World; and bestowed on him the hand of Aseneth, daughter of Putiphare, that was priest at Heliopolis.
So Joseph set out on his mission to the land of Egypt,
So Joseph set out on his mission to the land of Egypt,
having thus won the favour of king Pharao when he was only thirty years old; and there was no part of Egypt he did not visit.
Seven years of abundance came, and the corn was bound in sheaves and taken away to all the storehouses that could be found in Egypt;
all that could be spared of the crops was thus stored away in the various cities.
And indeed the yield of wheat was so rich that it might have been sand by the sea-shore; there was no measuring the amount of it.
In these years before the famine came, Joseph’s wife Aseneth, daughter of Putiphare that was priest at Heliopolis, bore him two sons.
He called his first-born Manasses, Oblivion; God has bidden me forget all my troubles, said he, forget my home.
The second he called Ephraim, as if he would say of God, Hiphrani, he has made me fruitful, in this land where I was once so poor.
So the first seven years passed, years of plenty for Egypt;
and now, as Joseph had prophesied, seven years of scarcity began; famine reigned all over the world, but everywhere in Egypt there was bread to be had.
When food grew scarce, there was ever a cry made to Pharao for bread, and still he would answer, Betake yourselves to Joseph, do what he bids you.
And Joseph, as the famine grew daily worse everywhere, opened the storehouses and made the Egyptians, too, buy their corn, for they were as hungry as the rest.
Soon the whole world was coming to Egypt and buying food to relieve its want.
The Holy Bible