The Prison Chronicles

Posted on January 25, 2022

by Lauren Stinton

In Genesis 40:4–23, Joseph interpreted two dreams. 

The cupbearer dreamed about a vine with three branches. The branches budded and bore fruit, and he squeezed the grapes into a cup, which he put in Pharaoh’s hand. 

The baker dreamed about three baskets on his head, but birds ate the bread out of the top basket. 

To one guy, Joseph said, “Good news—you’re going to be restored to your former position in three days!” To the other guy, Joseph said, “You’re going to die in three days.”

How did he hear two similar dreams and discern two very different outcomes?

Both dreams have three items: three branches, three baskets. That’s obviously where Joseph got the idea of three units of time; however, in one dream, the time factor makes more sense.

The more obvious dream is the baker’s. Without preservatives, bread quickly goes stale. This man baked fresh bread for Pharaoh every day. Three baskets, three days. 

But birds ate the bread. How did Joseph understand this meant the man was going to die? 

Well, they were in prison! No doubt, they’d seen many people die. They were familiar with executions and how the birds picked at the bodies afterward. I doubt this metaphor was difficult for Joseph to figure out.

The less obvious dream is the cupbearer’s. A vine with three branches doesn’t automatically suggest “three days.” I think Joseph received the timing for this dream directly from God—it was revelation. 


As dream interpreters, we have to understand that learning dream principles is good—but to really grasp what God is saying, we need His voice.

Episode 12 of The Dream’s Guy podcast is filled with dream elements and interpretive principles. Check it out, and see what God shows you about your dreams.