The Gemara in Brachos 56 brings various accounts about dreams and makes mention that a dream is based on the interpretation.

Why would Yosef interpret the baker's dream for bad? Was his interpretation more of a prophecy which he had to say accurately or did he interpret the dream based off what he understood?

3 Answers 3


After doing some research I found in the Malbim 41:9-10 which says that Yosef had Ruach Hakodesh to interpret the dreams of the cupbearer and master baker. The cupbearer had a more gross offense since he could have prevented the fly from being in the cup. However the master baker didn't know the stone was in the bread since he didn't bake, rather he just presented it. So the fact that Yosef said that the baker will be hanged proved that his words were divinely inspired.

The Malbim in Parshas va'yeishiv explains that the way it worked was that the cupbearer had servants and the master baker had servants. So in reality based off a court case the cupbearer's offense was a lesser offense if we put guilt on the cupbearer's servants since a fly can jump into the wine at any moment, but if we put the guilt on the cupbearer himself than it is a very great offense since he is holding the cup the whole time. On the other hand, the master baker himself did a small offense since he could not have known about the rock, but his servants did a very serious offense. Based off this information, a regular court would find the cupbearer himself more guilty than the baker since he should have known better. However, the inside information Yosef received from HaShem is that the court will now punish the main ministers (cupbearer and baker) based off the actions of their servants, and the baker therefore is more culpable since his servants put a rock in the bread which is a terrible offence much worse than a fly.

So it seems that Yosef was divinely inspired and explained the dream in a way which seems counter intuitive to the case. However, this itself gave credibility to Yosef' s ability when it came to interpreting Pharaoh's dream.

Since it was done through Ruach Hakodesh Yosef would not change the interpretation.

  • 1
    +1 I was waiting all day to get home to post this Malbim. But you beat me:) See here also sefaria.org/Malbim_on_Genesis.40.2?lang=en
    – user6591
    Commented Dec 4, 2018 at 2:58
  • Sorry ,you would have save me the trouble, lol . The Malbim is amazing
    – sam
    Commented Dec 4, 2018 at 3:02

I saw this in the Art Scroll Chumash this past Shabbat. I am going by memory, now. I'll try to edit in the sources, later, B"N.

The big difference is that the wine steward demonstrated that he dreamt that he was doing his job. He says things such as "I squeezed the grapes and I gave Pharaoh the cup."

On the other hand, the baker described how he wanted to do his job but was prevented because the birds ate the bread from the basket.

That was probably a hint that Pharaoh would not allow him to continue doing his previous work.

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    This idea is from Rav Elchanan Wasserman ,he said the fact that birds weren't afraid to go near the baker shows that he was dead in the dream,bit my question is why couldn't Yosef make it into a positive interpretation?
    – sam
    Commented Dec 3, 2018 at 22:29
  • You and I could surmise about dream interpretation theory until we tire of it and fall asleep. I can only assume that Yosef saw something about the birds eating what the baker produced was detrimental. Secondly, as Yosef says - it wasn't his interpretation; it was G-d's interpretation. As to whether that makes Yosef a navi is a separate question / discussion.
    – DanF
    Commented Dec 4, 2018 at 3:04

Two answers:

1) the baker's dream was unequivocally bad. There was no plausibe good interpretation.

2) one of Joseph's character flaws was that he liked to mess with people. He repeatedly taunted his brothers by prophesying how he will one day rule them and he would always tattle on them. He detained Shimon and Benjamin in disregard of how it would hurt his father. When viceroy of Egypt he used his advance knowledge to speculate on grain prices and reduce the entire population of Egypt to peonage rather than disburse the grain for humanitarian purposes. He had no consideration of the baker's emotions.

  • This doesn't answer the question at all. The 2nd comment sounds like your own analysis, but in any case, is irrelevant to how he interpreted the 2 people's dreams.
    – DanF
    Commented Dec 3, 2018 at 20:27
  • Even if there was a positive interpretation of the baker's dream, yoseph would not neccesarily choose it because he had a character flaws of being a bit of a sadist. Commented Dec 3, 2018 at 20:31
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    Why did this answer receive so many downvotes? Joseph was no angel, he wasn't perfection. Evoking jealousy and just messing with people is a serious flaw. He could've withheld the information. He very well knew that his brothers hated him for the prefered treatment of his father. Yet he somewhat thrived on their jealousy. On chabad.org I read the in-depth Parshah study. The Talmud states that the reason why Joseph had such difficult circumstances before suceeding was exactly because of his character flaw of flaunting his blessings.
    – user16556
    Commented Dec 4, 2018 at 0:51
  • The Malbim says that he thought his brothers would be happy about his dreams and his success. He also mentions that the Shevatim where afraid maybe only one son will take over Yaakovs heritage ,like Yitzchak and Yaakov,but they didmt know that all Shevatim will have a part in it
    – sam
    Commented Dec 4, 2018 at 1:28

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