*In the Pharaoh’s jail* with Joseph were also the Pharaoh’s chief butler and the Pharaoh’s chief baker. Joseph, being a special status prisoner, was put in charge of the butler and baker.
“What did you two do to make the Pharaoh put you in here?” Joseph asked of them.
“He thought we were trying to poison him” they said, “But we did no such thing. We are innocent of what the Pharaoh accused us of.”
“Isn’t this usual?” said Joseph. “I’ll bet nearly everyone in this jail didn’t do what they’re told they did.”
“What are you in here for?” asked the butler and baker of Joseph.
“Violating the wife of the captain of the guard who’s also in charge of this jail” said Joseph. “But I’m as innocent of that as you two are of trying to poison the Pharaoh.”
“Rum business, isn’t it?”
The next morning Joseph noticed that the butler and baker looked particularly downcast and were silent.
“You two aren’t exactly a barrel of laughs this morning are you?” said Joseph.
“I had a dream last night”, said the butler.
“Me too,” said the baker.
“Is that so bad?”
“Dreaming is for women, not men. There must be something wrong with us.”
“I have dreams all the time.”
“You can’t be a real man, then. Come to think of it, you look too pretty to be a man. Maybe that’s why you didn’t violate the captain of the guard’s wife when you had the chance.”
“I’m as much a man as you two are. Being emotionally repressed is more likely why you don’t normally dream than because you are men. What did you dream about?”
“In my dream,” said the butler, “there was a vine in front of me. On the vine were three branches, and as soon as it budded, it blossomed and its clusters ripened into grapes. I had the Pharaoh’s cup in my hand, and I plucked the grapes, crushed them into Pharaoh’s cup and put the cup in his hand. I can’t think what this dream means. Do you have any ideas, pretty boy?”
“Here’s what your dream means”, said Joseph. “The three branches represent three days. Within three days the Pharaoh will restore you to your post as chief butler, and you will put the cup in Pharaoh’s hand just as you used to.”
“I’m happy to hear this. I’ll believe it, though, only when it happens.”
“It’ll happen. Trust me. And when it does happen, I’d like you to put in a good word for me with the Pharaoh. I’m as anxious to get out of this jail as you must be.”
“I’ll try to remember to, but my memory has never been of the best.”
“And what did you dream of?” asked Joseph of the baker.
“Well, there were three baskets of white bread on my head. In the top basket were bakemeats of the sort I prepare for the Pharaoh, and birds were eating these bakemeats. Have you any idea what this dream means?”
“I do. The three baskets represent three days. Within three days Pharaoh will order that your head be chopped off and your headless body hanged from a tree for the birds to eat.”
“Ha ha ha. You have a good sense of humour”, said the baker, “ha ha ha….”
“I’m serious. You’d better start getting used to the idea that your head will soon be cut off. Just try to enjoy yourself in the meantime.”
The Pharaoh’s birthday fell on the third day after this conversation. He sent for the butler and the baker.
“Thank you for coming, gentlemen.” said the Pharaoh, “Your case is awkward, and I’m consequently put in an invidious position. While it’s been determined that it’s likely you were trying to poison me, it cannot absolutely be proved. However, given the seriousness of this suspicion, it wouldn’t be right to free both of you. At the same time it wouldn’t be right to kill both of you. So I’ve decided on a compromise. I’ll let one of you go, and I’ll have the other one of you killed. To show my heart is in the right place, the man I’ll free, I’ll also restore to his former position.”
Looking at the butler, the Pharaoh said, “Well butler, it’s your lucky day. I’m immediately freeing you and making you again my chief butler.”
“Thank you, thank you, your Majesty. You won’t regret this I promise you. I’ll be the best butler you ever had,” said the butler while prostrating himself and kissing the Pharaoh’s feet.
“As for you”, said the Pharaoh to the baker, “it’s my unpleasant duty to tell you that your head will shortly be cut off and your headless body hanged from a tree for the birds to eat.”
“If you let me go and make me again your chief baker, I’ll be the best baker you ever had. I’ll bake you food so delicious you’ll think you’re in heaven. Please, your Majesty, reconsider”, said the baker while also prostrating himself and kissing the Pharaoh’s feet.
“‘Fraid I can’t old chap. Awfully sorry and all that, but that’s how it is.”
The butler failed to remember to put in a good word for Joseph with the Pharaoh.
Source: Genesis 40