Genesis 41:2
And, behold, there came up out of the river seven well favored cows and fat; and they fed in a meadow.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(2) Kine.—The cow was regarded by the Egyptians as the symbol of the earth, and of agriculture; and naturally both the kine and the ears of wheat rose out of the river, because as no rain falls in Egypt, its fertility entirely depends upon the overflow of the Nile. The cows sacred to Isis were seven in number, and in a copy of the Ritual of the Dead, Mr. Malan (p. 192) found a picture of the seven sacred cows with the divine bull.

In a meadow.—Heb., in the marsh-grass. The word occurs only in this chapter and in Job 8:11, where it is translated flag. It is the name of the rank herbage which grows luxuriantly along the banks of the Nile; or, as some think, of one special kind of marsh-grass, called by botanists cyperus esculentus.

Genesis 41:2. There came out of the river — A just and proper emblem this, because both the fruitfulness and barrenness of the land of Egypt depended, under God, on the increase or diminution of the waters of that river. Well-favoured kine, and fat-fleshed — Signifying plenty of grass, whereby they had been thus fed, and promising milk and flesh-meat in abundance.41:1-8 The means of Joseph's being freed from prison were Pharaoh's dreams, as here related. Now that God no longer speaks to us in that way, it is no matter how little we either heed dreams, or tell them. The telling of foolish dreams can make no better than foolish talk. But these dreams showed that they were sent of God; when he awoke, Pharaoh's spirit was troubled.The dreams are recited. "By the river." In the dream Pharaoh supposes himself on the banks of the Nile. "On rite green." The original word denotes the reed, or marsh grass, on the banks of the Nile. The cow is a very significant emblem of fruitful nature among the Egyptians, the hieroglyphic symbol of the earth and of agriculture; and the form in which Isis the goddess of the earth was adored. "Dreamed a second time." The repetition is designed to confirm the warning given, as Joseph afterward explains Genesis 41:32. Corn (grain) is the natural emblem of fertility and nurture. "Blasted with the east wind The east wind". The east wind is any wind coming from the east of the meridian, and may be a southeast or a northeast, as well as a direct east. The Hebrews were accustomed to speak only of the four winds, and, therefore, must have used the name of each with great latitude. The blasting wind in Egypt is said to be usually from the southeast. "And, behold, it was a dream." The impression was so distinct as to be taken for the reality, until he awoke and perceived that it was only a dream. "His spirit was troubled." Like the officers in the prison Genesis 40:6, he could not get rid of the feeling that the twofold dream portended some momentous event. "The scribes" - the hieroglyphs, who belonged to the priestly caste, and whose primary business was to make hieroglyphic and other inscriptions; while they were accustomed to consult the stars, interpret dreams, practise soothsaying, and pursue the other occult arts. The sages; whose chief business was the cultivation of the various arts above mentioned, while the engraving or inscribing department strictly belonged to the hieroglyphs or scribes. "His dream;" the twofold dream. "Interpreted them" - the two dreams.CHAPTER 41

Ge 41:1-24. Pharaoh's Dream.

1. at the end of two full years—It is not certain whether these years are reckoned from the beginning of Joseph's imprisonment, or from the events described in the preceding chapter—most likely the latter. What a long time for Joseph to experience the sickness of hope deferred! But the time of his enlargement came when he had sufficiently learned the lessons of God designed for him; and the plans of Providence were matured.

Pharaoh dreamed—"Pharaoh," from an Egyptian word Phre, signifying the "sun," was the official title of the kings of that country. The prince, who occupied the throne of Egypt, was Aphophis, one of the Memphite kings, whose capital was On or Heliopolis, and who is universally acknowledged to have been a patriot king. Between the arrival of Abraham and the appearance of Joseph in that country, somewhat more than two centuries had elapsed. Kings sleep and dream, as well as their subjects. And this Pharaoh had two dreams in one night so singular and so similar, so distinct and so apparently significant, so coherent and vividly impressed on his memory, that his spirit was troubled.

This suits well with the nature of the thing, for both the fruitfulness and the barrenness of Egypt depended, under God, upon the increase or diminution of the waters of that river.

Kine, when they appeared in dreams, did portend, in the opinion of the learned Egyptians, the years or times to come, and them either good or bad, according to their quality. And, behold, there came up out of the river seven well favoured kine, and fatfleshed,.... Seven cows or heifers, sleek, fat, and plump, goodly to look at; these seemed in the dream, as if they came out of the river, because they were fed with the fruits of the earth, which the overflowing of the river Nile, and its canals, produced:

and they fed in a meadow; adjoining to the river, where there was good pasture for them, and gives a reason of their being in so good a condition.

And, behold, there came up out of the river seven well favored kine and fatfleshed; and they fed in a meadow.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2. out of the river] The Nile is the source of the fertility and wealth of Egypt. The cows issuing from the Nile would be a symbol of fertility. The Egyptian goddess Hathor is represented with the head of a cow.

seven kine] The number “seven” is commonly employed for the purposes of symbolism. The god Osiris is represented in Egyptian drawings as an ox accompanied by seven cows.

reed-grass] The Heb. word aḥu transliterates the Egyptian aḥu, or iḥi. It is found also in Genesis 41:18; Job 8:11; Hosea 13:15. LXX ἄχει, which occurs also in Isaiah 19:7; Sir 40:16. Jerome, commenting on Isaiah 19:7, explains ἄχει as quicquid in palude virens nascitur. The word, derived from a root meaning “green,” is applied to the Nile reed-grass whose vivid green, under that bright sky, strikes every traveller in Egypt1[58]

[58]    “Pro junco papyrum transtulerunt LXX, de quo charta fit, addentes de suo Achi, viride, quod in Hebraeo non habetur. Cumque ab eruditis quaererem, quid hic sermo significaret, audivi ab Aegyptiis hoc nomine lingua eorum quicquid in palude virens nascitur appellari” (Comm. in Esai, § 291).Verse 2. - And, behold, there came up out of the river seven well-favored kine and fat-fleshed. According to Plutarch and Clement of Alexandria, the heifer was regarded by the ancient Egyptians as a symbol of the earth, agriculture, and the nourishment derived therefrom. It was therefore natural that the succession of seven prosperous years should be represented by seven thriving cows. That they appeared ascending from the river is explained by the circumstance that the Nile by its annual inundations is the cause of Egypt's fertility (cf. Havernick, 'Introd.,' 21). A hymn to the Nile, composed by Euna (according to the generality of Egyptologers a contemporary of Moses), and translated from a papyrus in the British Museum by Canon Cook (who ascribes to it an earlier date than the nineteenth dynasty), describes the Nile as "overflowing the gardens created by Ra giving life to all animals....watering the land without ceasing... Lover of food, bestower of corn... Bringer of food! Great Lord of provisions! Creator of all good things!" (vide 'Records of the Past,' vol. 4. pp. 107, 108); And they fed in a meadow - בָּאָחוּ, ἐν τῷ Αχει, (LXX.), literally, in the Nile or reed grass. The word XXX appears to be an Egyptian term descriptive of any herbage growing in a stream. It occurs only here and in ver. 18, and Job 8:11. Encouraged by this favourable interpretation, the chief baker also told his dream: "I too,...in my dream: behold, baskets of white bread upon my head, and in the top basket all kinds of food for Pharaoh, pastry; and the birds ate it out of the basket from my head." In this dream, the carrying of the baskets upon the head is thoroughly Egyptian; for, according to Herod. 2, 35, the men in Egypt carry burdens upon the head, the women upon the shoulders. And, according to the monuments, the variety of confectionary was very extensive (cf. Hengst. p. 27). In the opening words, "I too," the baker points to the resemblance between his dream and the cup-bearer's. The resemblance was not confined to the sameness of the numbers-three baskets of white bread, and three branches of the vine-but was also seen in the fact that his official duty at the court was represented in the dream. But instead of Pharaoh taking the bread from his hand, the birds of heaven ate it out of the basket upon his head. And Joseph gave this interpretation: "The three baskets signify three days: within that time Pharaoh will take away thy head from thee ("lift up thy head," as in Genesis 40:13, but with מעליך "away from thee," i.e., behead thee), and hang thee on the stake (thy body after execution; vid., Deuteronomy 21:22-23), and the birds will eat thy flesh from off thee." However simple and close this interpretation of the two dreams may appear, the exact accordance with the fulfilment was a miracle wrought by God, and showed that as the dreams originated in the instigation of God, the interpretation was His inspiration also.
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