Genesis 41:21 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 41:21, NIV: But even after they ate them, no one could tell that they had done so; they looked just as ugly as before. Then I woke up.

Genesis 41:21, ESV: but when they had eaten them no one would have known that they had eaten them, for they were still as ugly as at the beginning. Then I awoke.

Genesis 41:21, KJV: And when they had eaten them up, it could not be known that they had eaten them; but they were still ill favoured, as at the beginning. So I awoke.

Genesis 41:21, NASB: Yet when they had devoured them, it could not be detected that they had devoured them, for they were just as ugly as before. Then I awoke.

Genesis 41:21, NLT: But afterward you wouldn't have known it, for they were still as thin and scrawny as before! Then I woke up.

Genesis 41:21, CSB: When they had devoured them, you could not tell that they had devoured them; their appearance was as bad as it had been before. Then I woke up.

What does Genesis 41:21 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Pharaoh is describing the first of his two disturbing dreams (Genesis 41:1–7). He dreamt that he was standing on the bank of the Nile River when seven healthy, fat, good-looking cows came out of the river. As they began to feed along the bank, seven ugly, skinny cows came out of the river and devoured the seven healthy cows (Genesis 41:17–20).

Now Pharaoh adds a detail not included in the description of his dreams at the start of this chapter. After the ugly, skinny cows had eaten the healthy, fat ones, they remained ugly and skinny. Eating the healthy cows didn't appear to fatten them up in any way. Their starving, skeletal condition was so severe that even eating other cows made no difference.

These explanations are being given to Joseph, summoned from prison for his ability to interpret dreams (Genesis 41:8–16). Pharaoh will continue to describe his second dream (Genesis 41:22–24).