ESL Lesson 10 – Joseph Gets Out of Prison

Lesson 10

Joseph Gets Out of Prison

Genesis 41


When Joseph was in prison, he interpreted a dream for the cupbearer.  He told the cupbearer, “In three days Pharaoh will make you his cupbearer again.  When you get your job back, please tell Pharaoh about me.  Tell him that I do not deserve to be in prison.  Maybe Pharaoh will take me out of prison.”


The cupbearer got out of prison as Joseph said he would.  But he forgot his promise to Joseph.  He did not tell Pharaoh about Joseph.


Two years later Pharaoh had a dream.  He dreamed that seven fat cows were eating grass near a river.  Then seven skinny cows came out of the river.  The seven skinny cows ate the seven fat cows, but the skinny cows didn’t get any fatter.  Then he woke up.


The dream troubled Pharaoh very much.  He sent for all of the men in Egypt who had been trained to interpret dreams.  The men came.  Pharaoh told the men his dream, but none of them could tell him the meaning of the dream.  Then the cupbearer remembered Joseph.  The cupbearer told Pharaoh how Joseph had interpreted his dream in prison. 


So Pharaoh sent for Joseph.  Joseph was taken out of prison.  He shaved, got cleaned up, and changed his clothes.  Then he came before Pharaoh.


Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream last night, and no one can tell me what the dream means.  I hear you can interpret dreams.  Is that true?”


“No,” Joseph said.  “I cannot tell what dreams mean.  Only God knows the meaning of dreams.  He will help you.”


Pharaoh told Joseph about his dream of fat and skinny cows.  Joseph said, “God is using your dream to tell you what He is going to do very soon.  The seven fat cows are seven good years.  For seven years the crops in Egypt will grow very well.  The harvest of grain will be abundant.  But after that will come seven bad years of famine.  The famine during the bad years will be so bad that everyone will forget about the good years.  You should save up grain during the good years to use during the bad years.  Then your people  will have enough to eat during the years of famine.”



interpret (v)

crop (n)

fat (adj)

harvest (n)

skinny (adj)

grain (n)

train (v)

abundant (adj)

shave (v)

famine (n)



1.  What did Pharaoh dream?

2.  Who did Pharaoh first send for to tell him what the dream meant?

3.  Could they interpret the dream for Pharaoh?

4.  Pharaoh asked Joseph if he could interpret the dream.  What  was Joseph’s answer?

5.  What did the seven fat cows in the dream mean?

6.  What did the seven skinny cows in the dream mean?

7.  What did Joseph tell Pharaoh he should do?


Pharoah liked the plan.  He told Joseph, “You must be a wise man because God has told you the meaning of my dream.  You will be in charge of storing grain for Egypt.  You will rule over the whole land of Egypt.  All of my people must obey you.  Only I will be greater than you in Egypt.”


Then Pharaoh took the signet ring off his finger and gave it to Joseph.  He gave Joseph beautiful clothes and a gold chain to wear.  He gave Joseph a chariot.  He commanded men to run ahead of the chariot and shout, “Bow down!”  When Joseph rode through Egypt on his chariot, people would have to stop what they were doing and bow down to Joseph.  Joseph became second-­in-­command in all of Egypt.  Only Pharaoh had more authority than Joseph. 


Joseph was thirty years old when he started serving Pharaoh.  He traveled all over Egypt and collected grain and stored it in the cities of Egypt.  He had many men working for him.  During the seven good years Joseph stored up huge quantities of grain.  It was so much that he stopped keeping records.  The grain became too much to count.


Joseph’s brothers had treated him badly and sold him to be a slave in Egypt.  Potiphar’s wife had lied about him and Potiphar had thrown him in prison.  But Joseph was not bitter.  He knew that God would take care of him.  Joseph was now a wealthy man with a family of his own.  He was a powerful man, second only to Pharaoh in all of Egypt.  Joseph had forgotten his troubles.  He had a good life.  But he wondered one thing.  Would he ever see his father and his brothers again?



store (v)

huge (adj)

signet (adj)

quantity (n)

chain (n)

keep records

chariot (n)

bitter (adj)

command (v)

powerful (adj)


wonder (v)

authority (n)




 8.  Who did Pharaoh put in charge of storing food for Egypt?

 9.  What gifts did Pharaoh give to Joseph?

10.  How much grain did Joseph store in Egypt during the seven         good years?


To Think About

1.  Joseph had many bad things happen to him.  His brothers and Potiphar’s wife treated him unfairly.  He served as a slave or in prison for 13 years.  Do you think he had a right to be bitter?


2.  Can you think of an example of a person who became bitter because of something that happened to him?  What did the bitterness do to that person?


3.  If a friend treats you unfairly and you become bitter towards him, what does that do to your friendship with him? 


4.  If something bad happens to you and you become bitter at God or bitter at life, what will that do to you?  Will bitterness make you happy?  Will bitterness help you to become a better person?