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Pharaoh hears that Joseph successfully interprets dreams. He summons him, and Joseph tells him that his dream means 7 years of plenty followed by 7 years of famine. So Pharaoh orders that food be stored for the next 7 years so some food will be available for the 7 years after that.

All this makes sense. But then Pharaoh tells Joseph:

Since God has made all this known to you, there is none so discerning and wise as you... I put you in charge of all the land of Egypt. [Gen. 41:39, 41]

That's a huge leap! First, Pharaoh does not believe in God(*). But second, and most important, Joseph gave him no evidence at all of his managerial excellence. And he puts this slave and foreign convict in charge of the country? Why?

You can always say that Hashem inspired Pharaoh to act that way. But has any commentator provided a more down-to-earth explanation?


(*) The Talmud makes that clear: "As for Pharaoh, who himself blasphemed God, the Holy One, Blessed be He, Himself exacted retribution from him.... Pharaoh blasphemed God, as it is written that he said to Moses and Aaron: “Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice?” (Exodus 5:2)" [Sanhedrin 94a-b]

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  • "Pharaoh does not believe in God." Citation needed. – msh210 Dec 26 '19 at 22:12
  • @msh210 -- "As for Pharaoh, who himself blasphemed God, the Holy One, Blessed be He, Himself exacted retribution from him.... Pharaoh blasphemed God, as it is written that he said to Moses and Aaron: “Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice?” (Exodus 5:2)" [Sanhedrin 94a-b] – Maurice Mizrahi Dec 26 '19 at 22:51
  • The Pharoh Yosef dealt with certainly believed in God. Otherwise, he never would have believed in dreams either. There are people who believe in God but don't believe in dreams. Which atheist believes in dreams? – Schmerel Dec 26 '19 at 22:59
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    @MauriceMizrahi the purpose of comments that ask for clarification is always that such clarification be edited into the post and to elicit more comments. – msh210 Dec 26 '19 at 23:03
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    That quote only shows that Pharaoh ~250 years later committed blasphemy. Even if you say it was the same person, that the blasphemy meant he did not believe in God (itself a stretch, one can both blaspheme and believe), and that he also believed it ~250 years earlier, it's still reasonable to say that Pharaoh believed in the idea of gods (note the lowercase)/magic/sorcery, so even if he felt God was out of the picture, he could have still believed 'something' endowed Joseph with abilities to rule, as written in the Passuk. Not sure why anything more than the Passuk is needed for this question. – Salmononius2 Dec 27 '19 at 0:00
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The medrash relates as follows (after Joseph interprets the dreams and foretells the birth and death of Pharaoh's sons as confirmation):

And the king said ‎unto all his officers: I have thought that forasmuch as the Lord hath made known unto this ‎Hebrew all these things there is none so discreet and wise as he is through all the land. And if it ‎seems good in your eyes, I will set him over the land, for he will deliver the country in all his ‎wisdom.‎

And all the princes answered unto the king saying, and is it not written in the laws of Egypt, ‎which should not be violated, that no man shall be the king of Egypt, nor second to the king, ‎unless he knows all the languages of the sons of man? and now, oh my lord and king, this ‎Hebrew man speaketh only the Hebrew tongue, and how can he be second to the king, who ‎does not even know our language? but send thou for him, I pray thee, and let him come ‎before thee and examine him in all matters, and as thou seest best so do. And the king said: ‎Let it be done so to-morrow, for the words you have spoken are good. And all the princes ‎went away from the presence of the king on that day. And in that night the Lord sent an angel ‎from the angels that are ministering for him, and he came unto the land of Egypt unto Joseph, ‎and the angel stood before Joseph and behold Joseph was lying on his bed in the dungeon of ‎his master's house; for he had Joseph put back into prison on account of his wife. And the ‎angel woke him up from his sleep, and Joseph arose and stood upon his feet and behold an ‎angel of the Lord was standing before him. And the angel of the Lord spoke unto Joseph and ‎he taught him all the tongues of the sons of man on that night, and he called his name ‎Jehoseph, and the angel of the Lord left him, and Joseph returned to his bed, and he was ‎greatly astonished at the vision which he had seen. And in the morning the king sent for ‎Joseph, and the servants of the king went and brought Joseph before Pharaoh. And the king ‎went unto all his princes and servants who were to sit before the king, and Joseph ascended ‎the steps of the throne, and Joseph spoke unto the king in all the tongues, speaking unto the ‎king in his going up, until he reached the king on the seventieth step, and he sat down before ‎the king. And the king rejoiced greatly over Joseph, and all the king's princes rejoiced ‎exceedingly with their king on hearing the words of Joseph

tl;dr -- Joseph said to find the smartest guy and the king, seeing Joseph's interpretation as validated, decided he was the smartest guy. That he miraculously knew all the requisite languages cemented the deal.

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  • So Joseph was a skilled linguist and interpreter of dreams. Where does it say anything about his managerial abilities? – Maurice Mizrahi Dec 27 '19 at 0:18
  • He was the wisest man ("none so discreet and wise as he is through all the land") and his divinely ordained knowledge made Pharaoh a believer ("forasmuch as the Lord hath made known unto this ‎Hebrew all these things"). – rosends Dec 27 '19 at 0:24

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