What does Genesis 40:8 mean?
ESV: They said to him, “We have had dreams, and there is no one to interpret them.” And Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Please tell them to me.”
NIV: We both had dreams,' they answered, 'but there is no one to interpret them.' Then Joseph said to them, 'Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.'
NASB: And they said to him, 'We have had a dream, and there is no one to interpret it.' Then Joseph said to them, 'Do interpretations not belong to God? Tell it to me, please.'
CSB: "We had dreams," they said to him, "but there is no one to interpret them."Then Joseph said to them, "Don't interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams."
NLT: And they replied, 'We both had dreams last night, but no one can tell us what they mean.' 'Interpreting dreams is God’s business,' Joseph replied. 'Go ahead and tell me your dreams.'
KJV: And they said unto him, We have dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter of it. And Joseph said unto them, Do not interpretations belong to God? tell me them, I pray you.
NKJV: And they said to him, “We each have had a dream, and there is no interpreter of it.” So Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell them to me, please.”
Verse Commentary:
Pharaoh's former cupbearer and baker sit languishing in prison for some untold crime (Genesis 40:1–3). Their caretaker is also a prisoner, but one unfairly jailed for a false charge (Genesis 39:11–15). Joseph has proven his use to the jailer and been given considerable responsibilities in the prison (Genesis 39:21–23). That includes some authority over these two men (Genesis 40:4). For all three men, their futures seem bleak. Recently, the baker and cupbearer are troubled for another reason. On the same night, they both had separate, deeply impactful dreams (Genesis 40:5–7).

The Egyptians held dreams to be very important, in general. They believed dreams allowed for contact with the dead and with the gods. Some Egyptians specialized in claiming to interpret significant-seeming dreams for people. The cupbearer and the baker cannot understand their visions, but they know they are important (Genesis 40:5–6). They likely wished they could talk to one of those dream specialists.

Joseph dismisses that superstition with a single statement: interpretations belong to God. Joseph saw his God as the revealer. Dream specialists were not required for someone who was in communication with the one, true God, as Joseph was. He asked the men to tell him the dreams, implying that God would give him the revelation and he would tell it to them. That's exactly what happens (Genesis 40:9, 16).
Verse Context:
Genesis 40:1–23 takes place during Joseph's years in a prison, or dungeon, within the house of the captain of the guard. Two men join him there for a time and experience troubling, prophetic dreams. Joseph's interpretation reveals that the former cupbearer to Pharaoh will be restored to his old job. The former baker for Pharaoh will be executed. Both interpretations are fulfilled exactly, but Joseph is soon forgotten again.
Chapter Summary:
Genesis 40 describes Joseph's interpretation of dreams for two of his fellow prisoners. Pharaoh's chief cupbearer and baker are imprisoned and experience troubling, prophetic visions. Joseph reveals the meaning of those dreams and, just as he predicts, the cupbearer is restored to his position while the baker is executed. The redeemed cupbearer, despite Joseph's plea, says nothing to Pharaoh about Joseph's situation.
Chapter Context:
Joseph remains in prison after being accused of attempted rape by Potiphar's wife (Genesis 39:11–15). The Lord blesses Joseph even in jail (Genesis 39:21–23), but he longs to get out. His chance for release comes through an opportunity to interpret the dreams of two fellow prisoners. The dreams reveal that one will be restored to his old position, while the other will be killed. Joseph pleads with the servant to be restored, asking him to to plead with Pharaoh to get Joseph released, but the man fails to do so. Two years later (Genesis 41:1), another dream requires explanation, and Joseph will finally be freed (Genesis 41:12–14).
Book Summary:
The book of Genesis establishes fundamental truths about God. Among these are His role as the Creator, His holiness, His hatred of sin, His love for mankind, and His willingness to provide for our redemption. We learn not only where mankind has come from, but why the world is in its present form. The book also presents the establishment of Israel, God's chosen people. Many of the principles given in other parts of Scripture depend on the basic ideas presented here in the book of Genesis. Within the framework of the Bible, Genesis explains the bare-bones history of the universe leading up to the captivity of Israel in Egypt, setting the stage for the book of Exodus.
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