Genesis 37:5
And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more.
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(5) Joseph dreamed a dream.—Though dreams as a rule do but arise from the mind being wearied with overmuch business (Ecclesiastes 5:3), or other trivial causes; yet as being from time to time used by God for providential purposes, they are occasionally described as a lower kind of prophecy (Numbers 12:6-8; Deuteronomy 13:1; 1Samuel 28:15). In the life of Joseph they form the turning point in his history, and it is to be noticed that while revelations were frequently made to Jacob, we have henceforward no record of any such direct communication from God to man until the time of Moses. The utmost granted to Joseph was to dream dreams; and after this the children of Israel in Egypt were left entirely to natural laws and influences. (Comp. Note on Genesis 26:2.)

Genesis 37:5. Joseph dreamed a dream — Which it is probable he did not understand at first, and therefore, in great simplicity, told it to his brethren; for, had he understood it, he certainly would not have mentioned it to them, for he could not but know they were likely to make an evil construction and use of it. But God’s special providence was seen both in giving him these dreams, and in causing him to reveal them, because hereby it was made manifest, when the things which they signified came to pass, that these events had not happened by chance, but were of God’s ordering. It must be observed, that though Joseph was so young, as is here stated, yet his piety and devotion were such, that he was fitted thereby for God’s gracious discoveries to him: and as he had a great deal of trouble before him, God, in his great goodness, was pleased betimes to give him this prospect of his advancement, to support and comfort him.

37:5-11 God gave Joseph betimes the prospect of his advancement, to support and comfort him under his long and grievous troubles. Observe, Joseph dreamed of his preferment, but he did not dream of his imprisonment. Thus many young people, when setting out in the world, think of nothing but prosperity and pleasure, and never dream of trouble. His brethren rightly interpreted the dream, though they abhorred the interpretation of it. While they committed crimes in order to defeat it, they were themselves the instruments of accomplishing it. Thus the Jews understood what Christ said of his kingdom. Determined that he should not reign over them, they consulted to put him to death; and by his crucifixion, made way for the exaltation they designed to prevent.Joseph's dreams excite the jealousy of his brothers. His frankness in reciting his dream to his brothers marks a spirit devoid of guile, and only dimly conscious of the import of his nightly visions. The first dream represents by a figure the humble submission of all his brothers to him, as they rightly interpret it. "For his dreams and for his words." The meaning of this dream was offensive enough, and his telling of it rendered it even more disagreeable. A second dream is given to express the certainty of the event Genesis 41:32. The former serves to interpret the latter. There the sheaves are connected with the brothers who bound them, and thereby indicate the parties. The eleven stars are not so connected with them. But here Joseph is introduced directly without a figure, and the number eleven, taken along with the eleven sheaves of the former dream, makes the application to the brothers plain. The sun and moon clearly point out the father and mother. The mother is to be taken, we conceive, in the abstract, without nicely inquiring whether it means the departed Rachel, or the probably still living Leah. Not even the latter seems to have lived to see the fulfillment of this prophetic dream Genesis 49:31. The second dream only aggravated the hatred of his brothers; but his father, while rebuking him for his speeches, yet marked the saying. The rebuke seems to imply that the dream, or the telling of it, appears to his father to indicate the lurking of a self-sufficient or ambitious spirit within the breast of the youthful Joseph. The twofold intimation, however, came from a higher source.Ge 37:5-36. The Dreams of Joseph.

5. Joseph dreamed a dream—Dreams in ancient times were much attended to, and hence the dream of Joseph, though but a mere boy, engaged the serious consideration of his family. But this dream was evidently symbolical. The meaning was easily discerned, and, from its being repeated under different emblems, the fulfilment was considered certain (compare Ge 41:32), whence it was that "his brethren envied him, but his father observed the saying" [Ge 37:11].


dream it is probable he did not understand, for then he would never have told it to them, who, as he knew very well, were likely to make an evil construction and use of it.

And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren,.... As a dream, in the simplicity of his heart; not understanding it, or imagining there was any meaning in it; he told it not with any design to affront them, but as an amusement, and for their diversion, there being something in it odd and ridiculous, as he himself might think:

and they hated him yet the more; not only because he had carried an ill report of them to his father, and because he loved him more than they, but still more because of this dream; the meaning of which they at once understood, though he did not, which yet they supposed he did, and that he told them it in a boasting manner, and to irritate them.

And Joseph {c} dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more.

(c) God revealed to him by a dream what should come to pass.

5–11 (E). Joseph’s Dreams

5. dreamed a dream] The influence of dreams in the E narrative is conspicuous; cf. Genesis 20:3. Dreams were regarded by the Oriental as intimations from another world, and were invested with the sanctity of a divine oracle. The dream and its significance entered deeply into the religious conceptions of the ancient races.

Verse 5. - And Joseph dreamed a dream (in which, though, as the sequel shows, intended as a Divine communication, there was nothing to distinguish it from an ordinary product of the mind), and he told it to his brethren: - not in pride, since there is no reason to suppose that Joseph as yet understood the celestial origin of his dream but in the simplicity of his heart (Kalisch, Murphy), though in doing so he was also guided, unconsciously it may be, but still really, by an overruling providence, who made use of this very telling of the dream as a step towards its fulfillment (Lawson) - and they hated him yet the more - literally, and they added again to hate him. Genesis 37:5This hatred was increased when Joseph told them of two dreams that he had had: viz., that as they were binding sheaves in the field, his sheaf "stood and remained standing," but their sheaves placed themselves round it and bowed down to it; and that the sun (his father), and the moon (his mother, "not Leah, but Rachel, who was neither forgotten nor lost"), and eleven stars (his eleven brethren) bowed down before him. These dreams pointed in an unmistakeable way to the supremacy of Joseph; the first to supremacy over his brethren, the second over the whole house of Israel. The repetition seemed to establish the thing as certain (cf. Genesis 41:32); so that not only did his brethren hate him still more "on account of his dreams and words" (Genesis 37:8), i.e., the substance of the dreams and the open interpretation of them, and become jealous and envious, but his father gave him a sharp reproof for the second, though he preserved the matter, i.e., retained it in his memory (שׁמר lxx διετήρησε, cf. συνετήρει, Luke 2:19). The brothers with their ill-will could not see anything in the creams but the suggestions of his own ambition and pride of heart; and even the father, notwithstanding his partiality, was grieved by the second dream. The dreams are not represented as divine revelations; yet they are not to be regarded as pure flights of fancy from an ambitious heart, but as the presentiments of deep inward feelings, which were not produced without some divine influence being exerted upon Joseph's mind, and therefore were of prophetic significance, though they were not inspired directly by God, inasmuch as the purposes of God were still to remain hidden from the eyes of men for the saving good of all concerned.
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