0

In Gen. 40:13, regarding the chief butler, it is written,

13 Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thine head, and restore thee unto thy place: and thou shalt deliver Pharaoh’s cup into his hand, after the former manner when thou wast his butler. KJV, 1769

In Gen. 40:19, regarding the chief baker, it is written,

19 Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thy head from off thee, and shall hang thee on a tree; and the birds shall eat thy flesh from off thee. KJV, 1769

However, in Gen. 40:20, regarding both the chief baker and the chief butler, it is written,

20 And it came to pass the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, that he made a feast unto all his servants: and he lifted up the head of the chief butler and of the chief baker among his servants. KJV, 1769

This phrase, “lift up the head,” seems ambiguous, for Joseph intimates that both their heads will be lifted up,1 yet one was restored to his original position2 and the other hanged.3 Could the lifting up of the heads be the release from prison to stand trial?


Footnotes

1 Gen. 40:20
2 Gen. 40:21
3 Gen. 40:22

0

This is actually a great question. You are correct that one particular verse1 seems to suggest that the heads of both the chief baker and the chief butler were lifted up in an identical manner.

20 And it came to pass the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, that he made a feast unto all his servants: and he lifted up the head of the chief butler and of the chief baker among his servants. KJV, 1769

Regarding the chief butler, Joseph states יִשָּׂא פַרְעֹה אֶת רֹאשֶׁךָ—“Pharoah shall lift up your head.”2 However, regarding the chief baker, Joseph states, יִשָּׂא פַרְעֹה אֶת רֹאשְׁךָ מֵעָלֶיךָ וְתָלָה אוֹתְךָ עַל עֵץ—“Pharoah shall lift up your head off you and hang you up upon a tree.”3

Clearly, then, Joseph’s two interpretations are not identical, for he adds מֵעָלֶיךָ וְתָלָה אוֹתְךָ עַל עֵץ concerning the chief baker. The word מֵעָלֶיךָ—consisting of the preposition מ, combined with the preposition עַל, and the 2nd person, singular number, masculine gender pronominal suffix—can be understood as “off you,” although it is literally “from upon you.” Consider a few other examples of its usage: וַתּוֹרֶד כַּדָּהּ מֵעָלֶיהָ—“and she took the pitcher down off her”4; וַתִּפֹּל מֵעַל הַגָּמָל—“she lighted off the camel.”5

In conclusion, both heads were indeed lifted up, the chief butler’s without qualification, thus to his benefit, yet the chief baker’s with the qualification that it would be off him—he would be beheaded—and he would be hung on a tree.


Footnotes

1 Gen. 40:13
2 Gen. 40:19
3 Gen. 40:20
4 Gen. 24:46
5 Gen. 24:64

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.