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Pharaoh's Butler and Baker

The origin of words is often based on an action or practice that the word was used to describe i.e. an adjective or pronoun. For example, the English word "butcher" originated from a French word, that had originated from a Greek word, pronounced bock (from which another English word, buck, also originated) which referred to a male goat. Why? Because the males were killed for food (while the females were kept for milk), hence the word for a male goat came to mean to kill an animal for food.

The English word "butler" also had a usage-based origin, from a Latin word, pronounced botellus, meaning a bottle (the English word bottle also originated from botellus, as obviously seen in the similarity of the spelling) because the earliest "butlers" were "cupbearers" of wine that was stored in bottles (which in ancient times were often flasks made of leather - hence their connection to a "butcher" as well). The original Hebrew word of the Scriptures, pronounced mash-keh, usually translated as "butler," means to cause to drink.

The English word "baker" originated from an old Anglo-Saxon word which meant to dry by heat, a term used as much for making bread as making bricks. "Baker" is used to translate the Hebrew word of the Scriptures, pronounced aw-faw, which meant to bake.

"Pharaoh was wroth against two of his officers, against the chief of the butlers, and against the chief of the bakers"

After Joseph had been sold into Egyptian slavery by his jealous brothers (see Joseph's Coat Of Jealousy), his situation seemed to get even worse when he was thrown into prison because of a false accusation made by his master's wife (see Joseph Into Goshen). But with the help of the LORD (see 'Before Abraham Was, I AM'), Joseph's contact with two other prisoners would be the means for him to be brought to the attention of the Pharaoh - and for him to rise to become the Pharaoh's Prime Minister.


"40:1 And it came to pass after these things, that the butler of the king of Egypt [see also The Ancient Egyptians] and his baker had offended their lord the king of Egypt. 40:2 And Pharaoh was wroth against two of his officers, against the chief of the butlers, and against the chief of the bakers. 40:3 And he put them in ward in the house of the captain of the guard, into the prison, the place where Joseph was bound. 40:4 And the captain of the guard charged Joseph with them, and he served them: and they continued a season in ward.

40:5 And they dreamed a dream both of them, each man his dream in one night, each man according to the interpretation of his dream, the butler and the baker of the king of Egypt, which were bound in the prison." (Genesis 40:1-5 KJV)

The prophetic dreams that the butler and baker were given to have, by the LORD, would be interpretted by Joseph, as given to him by the LORD i.e. "Joseph said unto them, Do not interpretations belong to God?"

"40:6 And Joseph came in unto them in the morning, and looked upon them, and, behold, they were sad. 40:7 And he asked Pharaoh's officers that were with him in the ward of his lord's house, saying, Wherefore look ye so sadly to day?

40:8 And they said unto him, We have dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter of it.

And Joseph said unto them, Do not interpretations belong to God? tell me them, I pray you." (Genesis 40:6-8 KJV)

The dreams would have two very different outcomes. The butler would be exonerated.


"40:9 And the chief butler told his dream to Joseph, and said to him, In my dream, behold, a vine was before me; 40:10 And in the vine were three branches: and it was as though it budded, and her blossoms shot forth; and the clusters thereof brought forth ripe grapes: 40:11 And Pharaoh's cup was in my hand: and I took the grapes, and pressed them into Pharaoh's cup, and I gave the cup into Pharaoh's hand.

40:12 And Joseph said unto him, This is the interpretation of it: The three branches are three days: 40:13 Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thine head, and restore thee unto thy place: and thou shalt deliver Pharaoh's cup into his hand, after the former manner when thou wast his butler. 40:14 But think on me when it shall be well with thee, and show kindness, I pray thee, unto me, and make mention of me unto Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house: 40:15 For indeed I was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews: and here also have I done nothing that they should put me into the dungeon." (Genesis 40:9-15 KJV)

The baker, on the other hand, would be executed:

"40:16 When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was good, he said unto Joseph, I also was in my dream, and, behold, I had three white baskets on my head: 40:17 And in the uppermost basket there was of all manner of bakemeats for Pharaoh; and the birds did eat them out of the basket upon my head.

40:18 And Joseph answered and said, This is the interpretation thereof: The three baskets are three days: 40:19 Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thy head from off thee, and shall hang thee on a tree; and the birds shall eat thy flesh from off thee." (Genesis 40:16-19 KJV)

The dreams were fulfilled exactly as Joseph said that they would. Although he failed to mention Joseph to the Pharaoh at that time, Joseph's contact with the Pharaoh's butler would later (two years later) not only result in innocent Joseph's being freed from prison, but would bring about his rise to become the ruler of Egypt, second only to the Pharaoh himself (Genesis chapter 41).

"40:20 And it came to pass the third day, which was Pharaoh's birthday, that he made a feast unto all his servants: and he lifted up the head of the chief butler and of the chief baker among his servants. 40:21 And he restored the chief butler unto his butlership again; and he gave the cup into Pharaoh's hand: 40:22 But he hanged the chief baker [see also Gallows]: as Joseph had interpreted to them.

40:23 Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him." (Genesis 40:20-23 KJV)

Fact Finder: What other well-known people of Bible History were sometimes given to deliver or interpret Prophecy by means of visions or dreams?
See Visions and Dreams

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