He rose early, as he did every day, to pray and give thanks to the Almighty, before he set about his work…
2 Give ear to my words, Adonai,
consider my inmost thoughts.
3 Listen to my cry for help,
my king and my God, for I pray to You.
4 Adonai, in the morning You will hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my needs before You
and wait expectantly.
Because he had found favor with God, and with the prison warden, Joseph was awarded his own cell, which, though it was still a prison cell, afforded him much needed privacy. Thus, he was able to spend uninterrupted time alone with ‘Elyon in the mornings and every evening, when he retired.
Joseph had quickly established a daily routine, when the warden promoted him, and he made sure that the prison was kept as clean as it was possible to keep a prison in that day and age. Because of this cleanliness, pestilence and plagues within the prison had dropped dramatically. Rodents no longer had free reign over the prison, but were soon killed and burned, which also cut down on disease within the inmate population.
Joseph also made sure that the prisoners were fed decent rations, twice daily, and that they had access to plenty of water. He treated them as he wished to be treated, never taking more for himself than they were allotted. Additionally, Joseph visited each of the prisoners daily, to ensure that no rioting or violence would break out. He separated those prisoners who couldn’t get along with others, from the rest of the inmates, so that bullying and fighting were kept to a minimum.
The warden was both pleased and amazed at all that Joseph had accomplished in such a short time. The prison was cleaner and healthier than it had ever been before, which made his job easier, and also made him look good to his superiors.
One morning, as Joseph made his rounds, visiting his fellow inmates, he saw the two most recent convicts sitting on their sleeping mats against the wall, looking utterly sad and dejected. Both of them were servants of Pharaoh. One had been his cupbearer, the one tasked with serving and tasting drinks, to ensure that Pharaoh was not poisoned. The other man had been Pharaoh’s chief baker, the one in charge of all of the baked goods, both breads and pastries, served to Pharaoh.
Both of these men had somehow angered Pharaoh, and he’d had them cast into prison for their misdeeds. They had been imprisoned for a few days already, and both had seemed resigned to their current status, until this particular morning, when Joseph checked on them. Now, their distress, evident on each of their faces, concerned Joseph, so he gently asked them, “Why are you looking so sad today?”
The cupbearer replied, “We both had dreams last night, and we don’t understand them.”
“And here, in this prison, there is no one to interpret our dreams for us,” the chief baker chimed in.
Kneeling down on the floor with them, Joseph gently asked them, “Don’t interpretations belong to God? Tell your dreams to me, please.”
The chief cupbearer then shared his dream with Joseph. “I dreamed there was a vine in front of me, and the vine had three branches, which budded, and suddenly began to blossom. Almost immediately after they bloomed, clusters of ripe grapes appeared on the branches. I had Pharaoh’s cup in my hand, so I took the grapes and pressed them into his cup, and gave the cup to him.”
The Lord gave Joseph, whom, you may recall, had experienced many dreams and interpretations in his own life, the wisdom he needed to interpret the cupbearer’s dream. “This is what your dream means,” he told the cupbearer. “The three branches are three days.” Joseph gently reached across to the man, and lifted his his chin, so that his downcast eyes rose to meet Joseph’s gaze. “Within three days, Pharaoh will lift your head and restore you to your position as his cupbearer, and you will be giving Pharaoh his cup, as you did before, but please don’t forget me, when everything is restored to you. Please show me this kindness, by mentioning me to Pharaoh, so that he will release me, too, from this prison. For the fact is that I was kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews, though I did nothing to deserve such a fate, and even now, I am unjustly imprisoned, though I have done no wrong.”
With gratitude and hope in his eyes, the cupbearer replied, “Indeed, good friend, I will remember you and tell Pharaoh about you, when I am released from this dreadful place.”
Upon hearing the favorable interpretation of his friend’s dream, the chief baker eagerly shared his dream with Joseph. “In my dream, there were three baskets of white bread on my head. The top basket had all kinds of baked goods for Pharaoh, but the birds ate them out of the basket on my head. What could this mean?”
Joseph answered the man gently and honestly. “The three baskets you saw are three days. Within three days, Pharaoh will impale your body on a pole, and you will not even receive a burial, for the birds will devour your flesh.”
“That can’t be!” the man sputtered, fearfully.
With tears of compassion in his eyes, Joseph softly touched the man’s shoulder. “Seek Adonai while He is available, call on Him while He is still nearby. Abandon your wicked ways and your evil thoughts; turn to Adonai, and He will have mercy on you; turn to my God, for He will freely forgive you.”
With bitterness boiling inside him, the angry baker spat out, “Seek your God? What has He done for me, except sentence me to death? No! I will cry out to Ra, the sun god, to shine his blessings on me, and to Osiris, the god of the dead, to deliver me! You can keep your God and your false interpretations. Now leave me!”
Joseph rose and left the cell sadly, for by rejecting El Shaddai, the man had surely sealed his fate. Still, Joseph remembered both men in his prayers each day, hoping the chief baker would repent and seek Adonai, before he was executed, and also praying that the cupbearer would also seek and find Adonai. He faithfully visited the men and served their rations to them, each day, and on the morning of the third day, he came to them once more. “It is time now. Please come with me,” Joseph ordered the men, as he unlocked their cell.
Both men came forward, eager to leave their dark cell behind them. “Where are you taking us?” the chief baker asked suspiciously.
“I am taking you to bathe and put on fresh clothing. Then you will go to the Captain of the Guard, and he will take you to see Pharaoh,” Joseph replied.
“Good,” the baker replied. “When I see Pharaoh, I will tell him how you mistreated me, and you will receive the punishment you are due!” Joseph, with a heavy heart, for the man’s unrepentant soul, gave no response, as he led the two to the bathing area. When they finished bathing, he then led them to the Captain of the Guard, who led both men away.
Joseph had done all that he could for both men. They were now in the hands of ‘Elyon, and of Pharaoh.
That third day was also Pharaoh’s birthday, and he had a lavish party for all of his officials. The chief cupbearer and the chief baker were both led to the party, and both rejoiced as Pharaoh called them forth. As they approached the throne, both knelt before Pharaoh, with their heads bowed and right fists against their hearts, in a pledge of loyalty to him. Pharaoh walked first to his chief cupbearer, and lifted his head, ordering him to stand. He then restored him to his former position as chief cupbearer, and presented him with his royal chalice. Tears ran down the cupbearer’s cheeks, as he accepted the chalice in gratitude.
Pharaoh then walked to the chief baker, and lifted his head. The baker eagerly arose, and with malice for Joseph in his heart started to speak, but Pharaoh silenced him. Then, just as Joseph had prophesied, Pharaoh ordered his former chief baker to be impaled. The man was immediately hauled away and impaled, and, as Joseph had prophesied, there was no burial for the unrepentant baker, for the birds devoured his flesh.
All that Joseph had prophesied had come true, but, sadly, the cupbearer had forgotten him. So Joseph remained in prison, for a crime that had never been committed.
Cheryl A. Showers