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The Baker: In Pharaoh's Prison: Joseph, in the Pharaoh's prison, interprets dreams of the king's cupbearer and his chief baker
Posted by Douglas, Apr 29, 2008. 1561 views. ID = 1220

The Baker: In Pharaoh's Prison

Posted by Douglas, Apr 29, 2008. 1561 views. ID = 1220
This post was written in 42 minutes.
This post has been awarded 24 stars by 6 readers.
This post is Part 7 of a writing series titled Joseph's Story.

They say that no matter how bad off you are, there's someone in the world who is worse off than you. I don't really believe that any more. I mean, somewhere in the world there must be someone whose situation is worst of all, right?

Take this boy in the Pharaoh's prison, for example. Born the eleventh son of a poor, uncultured nomadic family. Despised by his three step mothers (his real mother is dead) and his ten older brothers. Tossed (by his brothers) into a pit to die, then sold into slavery (also by his brothers). Then falsely accused by his master's wife of all sorts of evil debauchery and thrown into prison by his master, who (of course) believed his wife instead of his slave. And there he sits, year after year, stuck in this stinking dump with nary a hope of escape. The only bright point for him is that the jailer seems to like him and trust him, and has put him in charge of all the rest of the prisoners.

When you hear that story, you might be tempted to say, "There is the most miserable of men; no one is worse off than him!"

If you thought that, you would be forgetting one thing: since Joseph has been put in charge of prisoners, that means there are people right here in this prison who are lower, even worse off than him.

That would be me, and my friend the cupbearer.

We used to work for Pharaoh, but how we have fallen! I was the king's baker, and my friend was his personal servant. We both have offended our master, which is why he had us thrown into this prison.

Here we sit, awaiting his final judgment.

Don't misunderstand me; I do like Joseph - he's a nice boy. I just think my situation is a bit more dire than his. Let me tell you what I mean.

Three days ago my friend and I both had dreams. They were strange and troubling dreams, and as we discussed them together, we began to fear what they might mean, for everyone knows dreams are gifts and portents from the gods. As we sat there discussing the possible meanings of the dreams, Joseph walked by and saw our troubled expressions. With his usual empathy, he asked why we looked sad, and my friend explained, "We have had dreams during the night, and we do not know what they mean; we no longer have access to the king's magicians to explain for us the meanings of dreams."

Joseph scoffed. "Magicians. Dreams are not for magicians to explain - they are from God himself, and only God has the interpretation. I have some experience of my own with dreams, so tell me yours, and perhaps God will show me the meaning."

My friend and I looked at each other with doubt; we understood that when Joseph spoke of "God," he was not speaking of the Egyptian gods, but the God of the Hebrews, who (he claimed) was in control of all things. My friend and I had spent many hours wondering why anyone would serve a god who supposedly controlled everything, since that would mean it was the will of that god for all of us to end up in this stinking place.

My friend decided (out of pure curiosity, I think) to put Joseph to the test. "In my dream," he explained, "there were three branches growing out of a vine, and on each branch there was a cluster of grapes. Since I was holding the king's cup in my hand, I did what came natural to me: I squeezed the grapes into the cup and served the king."

Joseph stood there in silence for a minute. No dancing, no chanting, no magic rituals - he just stood there as though he was listening to someone speak. Then he turned to my friend and said, "Your dream is simple. The three branches are three days. After three days Pharaoh will relent in his anger and restore you to your former position. You will be set free, and returned to the king's palace."

Then he added, "But I ask one favor of you; when you are released from prison, please do this one thing for me: tell Pharaoh about me. Tell him about how I was falsely accused and thrown into prison. Perhaps the king will take pity on me and get me out of this horrid place."

I wanted to laugh. Imagine that - a king taking interest in the plight of a barbarian slave prisoner. But my friend wasn't laughing. His expression had turned to one of joy, and he promised the boy all he asked.

So now it was my turn, and I decided there was no harm in telling my dream. "In my dream, I was carrying three baskets of freshly baked bread on top of my head, and in the third basket, there were birds eating the food."

As Joseph stood there listening (first to me, then to the silence of his God's speech) his face grew troubled, and then even more troubled. "In your dream," he finally said, "the three baskets are also three days. After three days Pharaoh will also release you from prison. But he has not relented in his anger against you. You will be taken from here and publicly hung from a tree, where the birds will come and peck away at your dead flesh until you are devoured."

My friend looked at me as though he was seeing a ghost; it was clear he believed everything this Hebrew slave boy said. But not me. I don't believe in the Hebrew God, and I don't believe in interpretations given by nasty molesters of virtuous women. He is a liar and a cheat, and I won't believe a word of it.

And yet, now it is the third day, and I can hear a troop of guards tromping down the length of the cell block with purposeful stride, and I can't help but think: if ever there was a man whose situation is more dire than any other...

I think that man is me.

Copyright 2008 Douglas. All rights reserved. has been granted non-exclusive rights to display this work. For permission to reprint this item, please contact the author.

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This post has been awarded 24 stars by 6 readers.
This post is Part 7 of a writing series titled Joseph's Story. The next part of this series can be found here: Pharaoh: On the Banks of the Nile.

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