In Parshas Mikeitz (Beraishis 41), Pharaoh receives an interpretation for this two dreams from necromancers. Rashi (41:8) says that they told Pharaoh that “You will beget seven daughters, and you will bury seven daughters.” According to Rashi, Pharaoh was displeased with this interpretation. Was Pharaoh's displeasure a miracle from Hashem, or is there a logical way of understanding Pharaoh's displeasure with that interpretation?

  • Probably because the interpretation isn't a good one. C'mon, grain? It's got to be about food, right? Commented Dec 16, 2014 at 7:27
  • Yea didn't really think it through to be honest. But dreams are complex anyways, so the first person to interpret it could be accepted , maybe the dream was complex. Why reject it so early when you have an idea of what its about. It seemed Pharaoh was distraught and wouldn't know how specific the dream was
    – TreeKing
    Commented Dec 16, 2014 at 9:08
  • You'd expect a parent not to be upset at being told he'll bury his children? Commented Dec 16, 2014 at 14:38
  • @MonicaCellio and a famine wouldnt?
    – TreeKing
    Commented Dec 17, 2014 at 4:26
  • @armoose a famine he can prepare for because he's getting advance warning, versus the death of his own progeny that he can't do anything about? I'm guessing the direct, personal tragedy causes the greater upset, though I'm probably applying modern values and I don't know what ancient Egyptian pretenders to divine status would have felt. Commented Dec 17, 2014 at 4:50

5 Answers 5


The Y'fe Soar (commentary to the Midrash Raba 89:6) explains that Pharaoh saw the interpretation of the dream in the dream itself but forgot it. Since this interpretation didn't remind him of the one he'd seen, he knew it was wrong.

Y'de Moshe (commentary to the Midrash Raba there) explains that this interpretation didn't fit the dream very well, to Pharaoh's thinking. Specifically, the dream featured the river, the source of sustenance, prominently, and this interpretation wasn't about sustenance. (He seems to be citing a midrash for this, though it doesn't seem to me to be the Midrash Raba there.)


I heard the following approach from R' Rivlin, Mashgiach of Kerem b'Yavneh. Pharaoh was looking for more than just a clever interpretation based on the art of dream interpretation - he was looking for an interpreter who showed himself to know what the dream was and meant. Pharaoh made slight changes in his relating of the dream, and Yosef identified this point to him. In Pharaoh's dream, he was standing on the Nile (Bereishis 41:1):

וְהִנֵּה עֹמֵד עַל הַיְאֹר

However, when he told the dream to Yosef (and everyone else), he was not going to tell them that he dreamt he was standing on top of the god of Egypt, so he made a slight change (Bereishis 41:17):

הנְנִי עֹמֵד עַל שְׂפַת הַיְאֹר

Behold I was standing on the bank of the Nile

Yosef, however, had more than Pharaoh's word to go on - he had Divine inside knowledge of the dream and its meaning. He therefore pointed this out to Pharaoh (Tehillim 81:6):

עדות ביהוסף שמו, בצאתו על ארץ מצרים, שפת לא ידעתי אשמע

A testimony He placed in Yosef, when he went forth over Egypt, "I could not hear [the word] 'bank'"

Yosef identified to Pharaoh the discrepancy in his relating of the dream, and it was therefore clear to Pharaoh that Yosef had more insight into this dream. Therefore he accepted his interpretation.

(I do not know if this comes from any earlier source, but I do not recall R' Rivlin giving one)


In Kovetz Sichos vol. 2 R' Nosson Meir Wachtfogel explains as follows:

A dream's meaning depends on its interpretation (Berachos 55b). A positive interpretation yields a positive fulfillment, and the same with a negative interpretation. When Pharaoh's advisors offered him interpretations, he rejected them because they were undesirable, and so he insisted that they were invalid interpretations in order to avoid them being the interpretation of his dream. When Yosef came along with his (somewhat) positive interpretation, along with the advice of how to deal with the negative, Pharaoh gladly accepted it.

  • Perhaps consider contributing here: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/78714/9682. Though where do we see in the Gemara there that the person has to accept the interpretation for it to be valid?
    – DonielF
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 15:04

Sifte'i Hakhamim on RaSh"I (Bereshit 41:8 s.v. לפערה) states (my translation):

אבל כשאמר לו יוסף שיהיה רעב בארץ היה לו קורת רוח לפי שאמר שלכך הראה לו הקב״ה כדי לעשות תקנה למדינה שלא ימותו ברעב שחלומות המלכים אינם דברים פרטיים רק דברים כוללים כל מלכותו או כל העולם כחלומותיו של נבוכדנצר לכך לא היה לו קורת רוח

But, when Yoseph told him there would be a famine throughout the land he was satisfied. [Par'oh] said that HQB"H [sent him this message] to make a decree throughout the country [to store food] so that they wouldn't die. Behold, the dreams of kings are not about private matters; but, about matters of their kingdom or of the entire world, such as the dreams of Nevukhadnezzar. This is why Par'oh was not satisfied [by the previous interpretations].


Here's my take on it. Pharaoh wasn't satisfied with a prophecy of "you'll have seven daughters and they'll all die" because he didn't want them to die, for obvious reasons.

Also, as Matt commented, his dream was about grain, and that has nothing to do with his daughters.

Yosef's interpretation fits with both options. For the second, that is about grain and livestock. For the first, well, we know he wasn't the nicest of guys, and it's quite possible that he felt he would benefit a lot from the surplus, lose little from the famine (he is the king), and too bad for the population.

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