Genesis 41:5 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 41:5, NIV: "He fell asleep again and had a second dream: Seven heads of grain, healthy and good, were growing on a single stalk."

Genesis 41:5, ESV: "And he fell asleep and dreamed a second time. And behold, seven ears of grain, plump and good, were growing on one stalk."

Genesis 41:5, KJV: "And he slept and dreamed the second time: and, behold, seven ears of corn came up upon one stalk, rank and good."

Genesis 41:5, NASB: "But he fell asleep and dreamed a second time; and behold, seven ears of grain came up on a single stalk, plump and good."

Genesis 41:5, NLT: "But he fell asleep again and had a second dream. This time he saw seven heads of grain, plump and beautiful, growing on a single stalk."

Genesis 41:5, CSB: "He fell asleep and dreamed a second time: Seven heads of grain, plump and good, came up on one stalk."

What does Genesis 41:5 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Pharaoh, the ruler of Egypt, has just experienced a troubling dream (Genesis 41:1–4). In his vision, he saw seven thin, gaunt cows eating seven fat, healthy-looking cows. After waking up, he has fallen back to sleep and entered another dream. In this one, he sees seven lush, healthy ears of grain growing on a single stalk. As with the prior dream, this begins with a comforting image, which will soon turn into horror (Genesis 41:6–7). Pharaoh's search for an explanation will eventually lead him to Joseph (Genesis 40:23) and his interpretive gifts.

Modern readers will notice the King James Version using the word "corn," here. The plant modern English-speakers call "corn" did not exist in the ancient middle east. Our modern corn plant was originally called "maize," and came from the Americas. This is not an error, however, but an example of changing language. The English word "corn" used to mean a single seed or piece of grain. When the KJV was written, all major grain crops were called "corn." Over time, the word "corn" came to be used for a single plant: what had once been called "maize." Modern translations use the word "grain," here.

This passage also uses the Hebrew root word sibbō'lēt, describing something that flows or branches. The word was used to describe the fruit-producing part of a plant, so it's translated here into English as an "ear" or "head" of grain. This term was pronounced very differently in regional accents, so much so that it was used almost as a password (Judges 12:6).