The famous, prophetic dream that Pharaoh had is revealed in this parashah. The cows and the corn, the 7 years of abundance to be followed by the same number of years of terrible famine.
Famine was not uncommon in the Middle East; Abraham saw famine, Yitzchak saw famine, Ahab saw famine (and no rain, too, for 3 years) and even in modern times there was the famous famine that was world wide from 1920 -1924.
I believe God is in charge of everything, and also that sometimes things just happen. Just because God can make everything run the way He wants it to run, that doesn’t mean He does. In the case of today’s Parashah, though, I would like to offer my reason to believe why this particular famine was directed by God: simply because it served so many of God’s purposes, some of which He had already told us about.
When this parashah takes place, the “nation” of Israel numbered about 70, give or take children and in-laws. God promised them to become a great nation. We know that they already were pretty awesome in the eyes of their immediate neighbors, assuming that with their slaves and such they were somewhat formidable to a small town or village, but to be considered a nation as we define one, they weren’t there by any stretch of the imagination. And they were living in a world where the strong took what they wanted. They were exposed on all sides to any number of aggressive enemies.
At this same time we have Joseph in jail. He has been there for nearly 12 years already, forgotten by the Cupbearer and not likely to be remembered any time soon.
God’s plan had to get Joseph out of jail, Israel and his entire family out of constant threat of annihilation, and the children of Israel into a place where they can grow from a large family into a nation, safely and securely.
I can just see the Lord, sitting on His throne, stroking his beard of snow-white wool, asking Himself, “What to do? What to do? AHA!!! A famine. Oh, yes, I love a good famine! And dreams- that’s the ticket! Let’s give Pharaoh two dreams- that’ll rattle his bones, and then we can get this show on the road.”
So now the plan starts to take shape. Pharaoh’s dreams are directly from God, so only a man of God can interpret them. The magicians have no chance, and the confusion and concern awakens the Cupbearer to his own negligence of forgetting Joseph, which he quickly admits to Pharaoh. Now, after God has given Joseph the insight he needed to impress Pharaoh and give God’s plan some more momentum, Joseph is in the position God needs him to be in to have the ability to call his family down to Egypt.
Not letting sin go unpunished, God provides also the opportunity for Joseph to have his brothers suffer recompense for the sin they committed against him, which was merciful when you consider that their punishment and suffering was an emotional one whereas Joseph suffered physically. Yet, through God’s design Joseph is out of jail, the seed of the nation of Israel is planted in good soil, protected by the most powerful nation in the known world, and watered with the kindness that Pharaoh showed to Joseph and that Joseph had for his brothers.
That’s how God did it. He designed the famine to bring Joseph to power, Israel to Egypt, the nation to fruition. And later, in Sh’mot (Exodus) we see God’s plan for the nation to receive the promised land fulfilled, as well. In this Parashah we see the promise to Abraham that his descendants will be many and they will suffer for 400 years in slavery being fulfilled before our eyes.
If there is one thing we can learn from the Bible, it is that God’s plans will always come to be. What God wants done, will get done, and what God says He will do, is so absolutely trustworthy that His prophecy is already history. We can trust God absolutely, without reservation, and that trust is necessary to strengthen our faith. Faith is believing in what we cannot see or prove, but we have trust in what we know. Faith is given and trust is earned. God has demonstrated, historically, that His word is true and dependable. The science of archeology has shown us that the Bible is, if nothing else, historically accurate. That’s enough to earn our trust that the stories are true. It is through this trust of the accuracy of the historical events that we can justify (at least, initially, in our walk with God) our faith to believe those events were by Divine design. Once we take that leap of faith and accept God is in charge, that Yeshua is the Messiah, and (finally) take that most important step- decide to live our life a slave to God and not a slave to sin (for, as Yeshua said, we are all slaves to something)- then we can ask for (and know we have received) forgiveness through Yeshua’s sacrificial death. We can also request and receive the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) and begin our walk with God. After that your faith will grow in leaps and bounds if you continue to be fertile soil for the seed of the Word being sown within you.
I have said that God will never give us “scientific proof” of His existence because it is through faith we are saved, and scientific proof (meaning that the event can be reproduced at will) is the antithesis of faith. But once you are faithful, and you prove to God your T’Shuvah, He will absolutely let you feel His presence, see His goodness, and He will reveal Himself to you in so many different ways that you will have unquestionable proof He exists; thus, your hope for salvation will be confirmed and you will know that it will really happen. He will let you know Him, intimately, and you will experience His love. As you continue to grow in spiritual maturity, you will know more and more His trustworthiness and see His awesome power and compassion in your life, and in the lives of others.
God is in charge: whatever happens, whether designed by Him or simply allowed to run it’s own course by Him, is by His will and by His power. Trust in the deeds, have faith in the promises, and be secure in the hope of eternal joy and peace you will have once this world is no more.