What does Genesis 41:6 mean?
ESV: And behold, after them sprouted seven ears, thin and blighted by the east wind.
NIV: After them, seven other heads of grain sprouted--thin and scorched by the east wind.
NASB: Then behold, seven ears, thin and scorched by the east wind, sprouted up after them.
CSB: After them, seven heads of grain, thin and scorched by the east wind, sprouted up.
NLT: Then seven more heads of grain appeared, but these were shriveled and withered by the east wind.
KJV: And, behold, seven thin ears and blasted with the east wind sprung up after them.
NKJV: Then behold, seven thin heads, blighted by the east wind, sprang up after them.
Verse Commentary:
Egypt's king carried the title "Pharaoh." He has dreamt of seven gaunt cows eating seven healthy cows (Genesis 41:1–4). Falling back asleep, he dreams again. This time, seven healthy heads of grain are seen (Genesis 41:5). As in the prior dream, seven withered and terrible versions of the first group appear.

Though the region near the Nile river was well watered, crops could suffer from various natural disasters. One of these is suggested here. The original Hebrew only mentions "east," without explicitly mentioning wind. However, this is exactly what's implied. In that region, a type of sandstorm known as chamsin can bring intense winds, incredibly dry air, and scorching heat. The second set of seven grain heads seen by Pharaoh look like they've been parched and ruined by this blasting desert wind.
Verse Context:
Genesis 41:1–8 describes troubling prophetic dreams as seen by the king of Egypt, whose title is "Pharaoh." Both dreams involve a group of seven pleasant-looking images—first cows, then grain—which are consumed by a second group of seven, which are withered and evil-looking. The nature of these dreams makes it clear they have meaning, but none of the Egyptian diviners or scholars can make sense of them. This will lead one servant—the formerly jailed cupbearer—to finally mention Joseph and his ability to interpret dreams (Genesis 40:23).
Chapter Summary:
Joseph's status in Genesis 41 begins as "forgotten Hebrew prison slave" and ends as "the second most powerful man in Egypt." The cupbearer from the previous chapter finally mentions Joseph two years later, when Pharaoh is troubled by dreams which wise men can't interpret. Joseph reveals the meaning of the dreams: seven years of abundance will be followed by seven years of great famine in the land. Pharaoh, recognizing that God's Spirit is with Joseph, makes him second in command over the entire nation and tasks him with preparing for the famine.
Chapter Context:
Joseph was sold into slavery by his own brothers (Genesis 37:24–28). He then excelled in his work for an Egyptian official, only to be falsely accused and imprisoned (Genesis 39:20). There, he accurately interpreted dreams for servants of the Egyptian ruler (Genesis 40:20–22). Unfortunately, the restored cupbearer failed to mention Joseph, leaving him in prison for two more years (Genesis 40:23). A series of disturbing dreams leads to Joseph's audience with Pharaoh. This, in turn, leads to Joseph becoming the second most powerful man in the nation. The following chapters emphasize Joseph's reunion with his family. Details about his administration of food during the famine are recorded in Genesis 47:13–26.
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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