Genesis 41:3 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 41:3, NIV: After them, seven other cows, ugly and gaunt, came up out of the Nile and stood beside those on the riverbank.

Genesis 41:3, ESV: And behold, seven other cows, ugly and thin, came up out of the Nile after them, and stood by the other cows on the bank of the Nile.

Genesis 41:3, KJV: And, behold, seven other kine came up after them out of the river, ill favoured and leanfleshed; and stood by the other kine upon the brink of the river.

Genesis 41:3, NASB: Then behold, seven other cows came up after them from the Nile, ugly and thin, and they stood by the other cows on the bank of the Nile.

Genesis 41:3, NLT: Then he saw seven more cows come up behind them from the Nile, but these were scrawny and thin. These cows stood beside the fat cows on the riverbank.

Genesis 41:3, CSB: After them, seven other cows, sickly and thin, came up from the Nile and stood beside those cows along the bank of the Nile.

What does Genesis 41:3 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The king of Egypt, known by the title "Pharaoh," is dreaming (Genesis 41:1–2). As he stands by the Nile River, he has seen seven good-looking, plump cows come up out of the water and begin to eat the grass along the bank. Cows were symbolic of certain Egyptian deities, such as Osiris and Isis. Their healthy, sleek appearance would have been comforting.

Now, Pharaoh sees seven more cows, but these appear to be starving. The two Hebrew phrases used here can literally be interpreted as "terrible looking" and "thin of flesh." These emaciated animals stand next to the seven healthy-looking cows. These skeletal cows will consume the healthy ones (Genesis 41:4).

Pharaoh likely would have understood this dream to have greater meaning. As it happens, he will immediately see another dream, using similar symbolism, which convinces him to search for an interpretation (Genesis 41:5–8).