I had an interesting idea, and I wondered if anyone knows of sources that use it.
Yosef deals with three sets of dreams: his own, the dreams of the sommelier and baker, and the dreams of Pharaoh. In the last two sets, repetition means time. By the sommelier and baker, Yosef says that the three branches are three days (Genesis 40:12) and the three baskets are three days (40:18): the events he describes will happen then. By Pharaoh's dreams, the seven cows or the seven ears of corn are seven years (41:26), and again the events will happen after that time.
But Yosef's second dream also had repetition: eleven stars, and the sun and the moon. I know that Yaakov Avinu interpreted that as having to do with eleven brothers and Yosef's father and his "mother". But I wonder if it might also have to do with time. Yosef was 17 years old (37:2), and in 11+2 years he'd be thirty, which is how old he was (41:46) when Pharaoh appointed him over Egypt and everyone bowed to him (not his brothers, not for several more years). Also, he should have been appointed two years earlier, after just eleven years, as the Midrash says.
His first dream doesn't mention numbers so I wouldn't know what to do with it.
Anyhow, does this idea appear anywhere?

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    The chiluk you have pointed out reminds me of a Gra which Rav Hutner is fond of quoting on וְעִנּוּ אֹתָם אַרְבַּע מֵאוֹת שָׁנָה - וְדוֹר רְבִיעִי יָשׁוּבוּ הֵנָּה - that talah ha'kilkul be'meshech ha'zman ve'hatikun be'hemeshech ha'doros.
    – pcoz
    Commented Dec 2, 2021 at 5:31
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    Beautiful הערה!
    – Dov
    Commented Dec 2, 2021 at 10:04
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    I'd mention as a point against, that later when Yosef sees his brothers, the Torah says that he remembered the dreams. I don't see how that fits with this interpretation.
    – MichoelR
    Commented Dec 6, 2021 at 18:10
  • The time spans are appropriate for each dream. Paro's birthday was in three days and it was based on events happening immediately. Paro's dream was based on seven cycles of crops so of course each cow or each grain stalk was one cycle of crop growth (a year). Rav Hirsch says each dream was internally consistant. The other dreams do not have to do with specific time periods. Commented Dec 7, 2021 at 0:05
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    It's an interesting idea, but the problem is if it meant years, it should have been all the same thing, not eleven stars plus the sun and moon.
    – N.T.
    Commented Dec 11, 2023 at 10:21

1 Answer 1


בָּרוּךְ שֶׁכִּוַּנְתָּ

The צרור המור provides this explanation, albeit with some variations:

And behold Hashem showed Yosef two things [in the second dream]: one the fulfillment of what he saw in the first dream, second the number of years in which his domination will come into fruition. To explain, in the first dream he saw his domination and its cause. In this dream he saw the timing, which comes from the sun and moon. This is why the verse specifically singles out the sun and moon but leaves the eleven stars general. So this dream is coming to inform Yosef that the peace, ruling, and interpretation of the dream will be after thirteen years -- equal to the two luminaries plus the eleven stars.

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  • Whoa. Thank you!
    – MichoelR
    Commented Dec 20, 2023 at 12:07

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