The Butler and the Baker
Genesis 40:1-23
And it came to pass after these things, that the butler of the king of Egypt and his baker had offended their lord the king of Egypt.…

I. PRISON OCCUPATIONS. The crime is the disgrace, and not the scaffold or the prison. Good men have often been imprisoned, while many wicked have escaped. Yet, notwithstanding the prison, these sufferers are amongst our heroes and martyrs. Milton said, "there shall one day be a resurrection of names and reputations." Bunyan, Baxter, &c., are not honoured the less for the dungeons in which they suffered. Next to escaping the prison, the best thing is, like Joseph, to suffer innocently. Joseph in prison. Suffering often hardens the bad and purifies and manifests the good. Joseph's character could not be hid. Even the keepers saw how different he was from the ordinary criminals committed to their care (see Proverbs 16:21. The prisoner becomes a keeper (so many of the captive Jews, as Daniel, Nehemiah, Mordecai, were exalted). Is so much trusted as to be freed from supervision (Genesis 38:22-23). God, who was with him in Canaan, is with him in Egypt, and in prison. He does not forsake His friends in distresses brought upon them by their fidelity to Him.

II. PRISON COMPANIONS. The butler and baker, two officers of importance in eastern and ancient courts. Yet even these were not spared by a capricious and absolute monarch. "Oh, how wretched is that poor man that hangs on princes' favours!" In a palace one day, a prison the next. In ancient times a courtier's office was often like the Bridge of Sighs at Venice, "a palace and a prison on each hand." These men may have suffered justly; like the malefacters who were crucified with Jesus (Luke 23:41). The worst punishment of the good is forced fellowship with the wicked. As providence over-ruled the wrath of Joseph's brothers, so now he ever-rules the wrath of Pharaoh. One of these degraded officials shall be the instrument of Joseph's release and exaltation.

III. PRISON DREAMS. That is: the dreams of the butler and baker. The subject was so strange, and the recollection so vivid, that they were troubled. Dreamland, a mysterious region to the ancients. No interpreter of dreams in the prison, they thought. Joseph's inquiry. Be thinks of his own dreams, doubtless, and the transitory trouble they had brought him into. He gives the praise to God, as the true interpreter of dreams. By the help of divine illumination, he reveals the meaning of their dreams. No doubt he saw that God had sent them those dreams for him to interpret; and that his connection with these men would work out the fulfilment of his own dreams. It is certain that what was foretold by their dreams would have occurred even if they had never dreamed at all. Hence, it was clear that there was a purpose in their dreaming, and in their relating their dreams to Joseph. Probably had not Joseph been in prison, they would not have dreamed as they did. Learn:

I. If we suffer, let it be for righteousness' sake.

II. When a man's ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies, &c,

(J. C. Gray.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And it came to pass after these things, that the butler of the king of Egypt and his baker had offended their lord the king of Egypt.

WEB: It happened after these things, that the butler of the king of Egypt and his baker offended their lord, the king of Egypt.

Light Upon Joseph's Destiny
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