Genesis 41

Genesis 41:1 at the end of two full years… Pharaoh dreamed

“Dreams once again became a pivotal point in Joseph's life… Pharaoh also had dreams; can we doubt that they were to prepare a people for a coming calamity? They revealed God's hand at work in the affairs of men in order that he could perform his will in their behalf. Pharaoh's dream was a small but integral part of the unfolding drama in the history of Israel as foreseen before the foundation of this world by an all-knowing Heavenly Father. Since the beginning, he has had purposes and designs for his children, a mission for Israel, and a special call for Joseph.” (Kent P. Jackson and Robert L. Millet, eds., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 3: Genesis to 2 Samuel [Salt Lake City: Randall Book, 1985], 68)

Genesis 41:2 seven well favoured kine

Kine is another word for cattle.  “Well favoured kine” are healthy, well-fed, fat, and juicy cows.

Genesis 41:6 seven thin ears… blasted with the east wind

The “east wind” is a metaphor for bad weather.  The wind from the east only brought sandstorms and destruction, drought and devastation.  The “east wind” is often referenced as a curse from God, “I will scatter them as with an east wind before the enemy…” (Jer. 18:17)

Joseph instinctively knew the correct interpretation of the allusion.

Genesis 41:8 in the morning… his spirit was troubled

Not every dream means something.  Those who place too much emphasis on their dreams will drive themselves crazy with useless auto-analysis.  From Pharaoh, we learn that when God uses dreams to communicate, he emphasizes the importance of it the next morning.  In the case of Pharaoh, his spirit was troubled; he knew it meant something.

Genesis 41:9 I do remember my faults this day

While Joseph languished in prison, he had the opportunity to put in a good word for himself through the butler.  When he interpreted the dream about the butler and baker, he asked the butler to put in a good word for him, “make mention of me unto Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house.” (Gen. 40:14)  We never hear Joseph complain or harbor hard feelings toward the butler because of this great oversight.  The oversight cost Joseph an additional two years of prison time.  Most men would take retribution if given an opportunity but Joseph was a man of mercy and discretion.

Genesis 41:14 Pharaoh… brought him hastily out of the dungeon

Abravanel notices that for each suffering of Joseph there was an exact recompense. It was for dreams that his brethren hated him, and by help of dreams he was exalted in Egypt. They stripped him of his many-coloured coat; the Egyptians clothed him in byssus. They cast him into a pit, and from the pit of the prison he was drawn forth by Pharaoh. They sold him into slavery; in Egypt he was made lord.  (Ellicott’s Commentary,

Genesis 41:16 It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer

Joseph gives the perfect response.  If he takes credit for the answer, he is more likely to get himself out of prison, but he refuses to offend God by trying to make himself look good.  Great men always give God the credit and let the chips fall where they may.

Genesis 41:21 when they had eaten them up, it could not be known that they had eaten them

If a skinny cow eats a fat cow, he should get fat.  Not in Pharaoh’s dream.  The skinny cow is still skinny after eating another cow!  Joseph knows by the Spirit that the drought will exhaust all the reserves even if the years of plenty are wisely handled.

Genesis 41:25 God hath shewed Pharaoh what he is about to do

C. Christopher Waddell

From the beginning of time, the Lord has provided direction to help His people prepare spiritually and temporally against the calamities and trials that He knows will come as part of this mortal experience. These calamities may be personal or general in nature, but the Lord’s guidance will provide protection and support to the extent that we heed and act upon His counsel. A wonderful example is provided in an account from the book of Genesis, where we learn of Joseph in Egypt and his inspired interpretation of Pharaoh’s dream. (Quotes from Genesis 41)

Today we are blessed to be led by prophets who understand the need for us to prepare against the calamities “which should come”4 and who also recognize the limitations or restrictions that we may encounter in striving to follow their counsel.

There is a clear understanding that the effects of COVID-19, as well as devastating natural disasters, are no respecter of persons and cross ethnic, social, and religious boundaries on every continent.

When considering the principle of preparedness, we can look back to Joseph in Egypt for inspiration. Knowing what would happen would not have been sufficient to carry them through the “lean” years without a degree of sacrifice during the years of abundance. Rather than consume all that Pharaoh’s subjects could produce, limits were established and followed, providing sufficient for their immediate, as well as their future, needs. It was not enough to know that challenging times would come. They had to act, and because of their effort, “there was bread.” (

Genesis 41:34 Take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt in the seven plenteous years

Joseph has already manifested the gift of interpreting dreams.  His next spiritual gift is the gift of administration, manifest in his brilliant solution, immediately offered after the interpretation.  How does he know that it will take a 20% surplus to provide for the years of famine?  20% times seven years is 140%.  Joseph is inspired to prepare an extra 40% because the surrounding nations are going to come to Egypt near the end of the famine.  The extra 40% will make Pharaoh rich and famous.

Genesis 41:36 that food shall be for store to the land against the seven years of famine

“As we strive to care for ourselves and our families, one of our greatest challenges is to find peace in the midst of an uncertain future. We may have the basic necessities of life today, but what about tomorrow? The prophets have urged us to live providently—in other words, to live in a way that will provide the necessities of life not only today, but tomorrow as well.

“The wisdom of living providently has been recognized since ancient times. Joseph encouraged the Egyptians to store grain during the seven ‘fat’ years against the lean years that would come. (See Gen. 41:28–36.) From the ancient Greek storyteller Aesop comes a fable about the ant and the grasshopper, which illustrates in a very simple way the principle of provident living. In time of plenty, the grasshopper took no thought for what he might need when the winter came. But the ant worked busily, preparing and providing for a time when food would not be so plentiful. The ant could look to the future with confidence, while the grasshopper—if he thought about the future at all—could only hope for the best.

“But living providently is more than just putting aside food for future need. It encompasses all areas of life. If we want to face the future with confidence and peace of mind, we must prepare ourselves in six areas: literacy and education, career development, financial and resource management, home production and storage, physical health, and social-emotional and spiritual strength. When we strive to prepare in these areas, we can enjoy peace of mind as we face the uncertainties of the future.

Sister Barbara W. Winder, general president of the Relief Society, says that ‘provident living includes the prudent, frugal use of one’s resources, making provision for the future as well as providing wisely for current needs.’” (“Provident Living: A Way of Life,” Ensign, Aug. 1987, 35)

Spencer W. Kimball

There are in our lives reservoirs of many kinds. Some reservoirs are to store water. Some are to store food, as we do in our family welfare program and as Joseph did in the land of Egypt during the seven years of plenty. There should also be reservoirs of knowledge to meet the future needs; reservoirs of courage to overcome the floods of fear that put uncertainty in lives; reservoirs of physical strength to help us meet the frequent burdens of work and illness; reservoirs of goodness; reservoirs of stamina; reservoirs of faith. Yes, especially reservoirs of faith so that when the world presses in upon us, we stand firm and strong; when the temptations of a decaying world about us draw on our energies, sap our spiritual vitality, and seek to pull us down, we need a storage of faith that can carry youth and later adults over the dull, the difficult, the terrifying moments, disappointments, disillusionments, and years of adversity, want, confusion, and frustration. (Faith Precedes the Miracle [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1972], 110)

Genesis 41:38 Can we find such an one… in whom the Spirit of God is?

L. Tom Perry

Because of the service Joseph rendered, the Pharaoh said unto his servants, “Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is?” (Gen. 41:38.) The Pharaoh recognized that Joseph was, indeed, directed by the Lord when he said unto Joseph, “forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art.” (Gen. 41:39.)

When one follows the course marked by the road signs of the gospel of Jesus Christ and places his trust in the Lord, its influence is such that it is manifest not only in action and deed but by a marked and visible change in his very being. There is a special light and a spirit which radiates from his eternal soul. It can be described in words like brightness, light, joy, happiness, peace, purity, contentment, spirit, enthusiasm, etc. (“Trust in the Lord,” Ensign, May 1978, 52)

Genesis 41:45 he gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of Potipherah [the] priest

The daughter of Potipherah the priest was Egyptian nobility.  Joseph was given the best of Egypt, and Asenath was certainly a worthy companion.

“[Joseph] rose to a position of prominence and leadership and married an Egyptian girl, Asenath, daughter of the priest of On. She bore him two sons—Ephraim and Manasseh, who lived out their lives in Egypt. (See Gen. 41:45, 50–52.) Most Latter-day Saints, through their patriarchal blessings, claim Ephraim and Manasseh as direct ancestors; their parentage is thus linked to Egypt.

“The Book of Mormon is also allied with Egypt, having been written in ‘the language of the Egyptians.’ (1 Ne. 1:2.) Moroni, writing a thousand years later, still acknowledged the Nephites’ use of Egyptian writing: ‘We have written this record according to our knowledge, in the characters which are called among us the reformed Egyptian.’ (Morm. 9:32.)” (Thomas and Judith Parker, “Blessed Be Egypt My People,” Ensign, Sept. 1983, 44)

Genesis 41:51 The birth of Manasseh

Manasseh—can we comprehend the righteous lineage of Manasseh?  How many Book of Mormon prophets does it take to make Manasseh’s line a glorious one? His was certainly a fruitful bough. The following story is about one such descendant who felt a kinship to father Manasseh.

A young American Indian girl was given responsibility for her father’s old and sick livestock.  It was her job to shepherd them and tend them.  One day she inadvertently led her small flock onto a dangerous mesa.  Some of the animals fell off to their death.  Others were scattering and trying to get down. It was her job to keep them safe.

“Never had I felt so alone. As I made my way down from the mesa without the help of a trail, I was wrapped in the emotion of the recent disaster. The difficulty of the route I had chosen aroused my full consciousness. Was I making yet another mistake? A few weeks before, I had been chastened when my grandmother and aunt caught me teasing a rattlesnake with a whip while my frightened little brother watched. Now I was climbing down a rock face I had never climbed; somehow even teasing a rattlesnake seemed harmless by comparison.

“And so there I remained, immobile and sniffling, until a calming thought came to my mind from a Sunday School lesson. It was the story of Joseph of Egypt…

“Bloodlines are important, no matter how ancient; they are the ties that can never be broken. I must have believed that even as a child, for I was convinced that the same power that enabled Joseph to endure would come to the aid of a little Indian girl stuck high on a mesa ledge.

“So I prayed to the same God who guided Joseph through all his tribulations: ‘Father, Father, I don’t know where to go! Where should I place my hands and my feet?’ During the rest of my climb down, I recall that I had never felt more agile or more instinctive. When my feet finally came to rest in an arroyo, I witnessed another unusual occurrence. The remaining flock had somehow found a pathway down. They had gathered together in the arroyo and were grazing on sweet grass as though nothing had happened.

“That day, I didn’t understand why I had such a strong attachment to Joseph, but nine years later my patriarchal blessing would declare that I had been born through the loins of the oldest son of Joseph: Manasseh, so named, Joseph says, because ‘God … hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father’s house.’ (Gen. 41:51.)

“With a heavy heart and lead feet, I drove my flock back to their pen. Closing the gate, I finally looked back at the sheer face of that mesa, and I knew from that day forth there wasn’t anything my Heavenly Father wouldn’t grant me if I asked with a pure heart.” (A. J. Rock, “The Summer of My Accountability,” Ensign, July 1992, 27)

Genesis 41:55 Pharaoh said… Go unto Joseph; what he saith to you, do

Russell M. Nelson

Anciently, when “all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread: and Pharaoh said unto all the Egyptians, Go unto Joseph; what he saith to you, do” (Gen. 41:55). In the latter days, people starving for nourishment that only the gospel can provide are again to be fed—by Joseph. The Lord declared that “this generation shall have my word through [Joseph Smith]” (D&C 5:10). Today we may “feast upon the words of Christ” (2 Ne. 32:3) because of Joseph Smith. (“The Exodus Repeated,” Ensign, July 1999, 8–9)

Genesis 41:56 And Joseph opened all the storehouses

Sterling W. Sill

When the famine began, Joseph opened the granaries. Thus, with one good idea, two nations were saved from starvation. However, this idea of storing up food for the future always has been and probably always will be one of our greatest ideas. To begin with, in one way or another these alternating periods of feast and famine continue to come with some regularity as an important part of life. (Principles, Promises, and Powers [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1973], 267)