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tact of Joseph in obtaining this, recommended him to his keeper. These prisons were apparently regarded as an indispensable appendage to every great construction in Egypt. The reliefs upon the walls of the temples give fearful indications of the cruelties exercised upon their unhappy inmates. Yet the Divine blessing can send prosperity even into such a den of misery! This is a consolatory reflection to those who believe the Bible.
“ And it came to pass after these things, that the cellarman, [keeper of the drinks] of the king of Egypt, and his cook, had offended their lord the king of Egypt. And Pharaoh was wroth against two of his princes (saris,] against the sar of his vineyards, and against the sar of his cooks."
These princes were equal, probably superior in rank to Potiphar. Their offices were of the highest possible consideration. In all pictures of banquets, the eldest son hands the viands and the cup to the father of the family, the eldest daughter to the mother. This is especially the case with Pharaoh, so that in all probability these were princes of the blood . It is very important that this should be understood, as otherwise the force of the succeeding narrative is greatly weakened.
The very ample illustration of which both these offices are susceptible, from the paintings on tombs contemporary with the epoch before us, again suggests the regret we have already expressed, at the want of interest in the question, that withholds all public encouragement from its pursuit, and renders such illustration impossible.
It will be perceived that the principle of the law of Egypt we have before explained, is also in force in the present instance. The superior alone is held responsible for the whole of the acts of his subordinates. Both the departments here in question were of an extent and importance in Ancient Egypt, of which our modern notions will receive but a faint impression. Even in the establishments of the princes and nobles, hundreds of men were employed in gathering the grapes and pressing and storing the wine, and also in the preparation of the viands, for a single banquet of frequent periodical recurrence. There were more than a hundred dishes served in the tri-monthly festivals in honour of the dead, held in the tomb of Nahrai at Benihassan. The bill of fare yet remains. This is also the case with many other tombs. The offence with which those two princes were charged must have been of a very grave character, connected in all probability with some attempt to administer poison. They would not otherwise have been committed to the slave prison.
“ And they (the captive princes) dreamed a dream both of them, each man his dream in one night, each man according to the interpretation of his dream, the vintner and the house-steward of the king of Egypt, which were bound in the prison. And Joseph came in unto them in the morning and looked at them, and behold they were sad. And he asked Pharaoh's princes that were with him in the prison, saying, Wherefore look ye so sadly to-day? And they said unto him, We have dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter of it. And Joseph said unto them, Do not interpretations belong to God ? Tell me them, I pray you. And he that was over the vineyards told his dream to Joseph, and said unto him, In my dream behold a vine was before me. And in the vine were three branches ; and it was as though it budded, and her blossoms shot forth; and the clusters thereof brought forth ripe grapes. And Pharaoh's cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes and pressed them into Pharaoh's cup; and I gave the cup into Pharaoh's hand. And Joseph said unto him, This is the interpretation of it: the three branches are three days. Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thine head and restore thee unto thy place; and thou shalt deliver Pha-. raoh's cup into his hand, after the former manner when thou wast his vintner.” Exod. xl. 5—13.
This passage clearly indicates the office held by the functionary in the court of Pharaoh. He had the oversight both of the king's vineyards and the
king's cellars, as well as the function of cup-bearer to Pharaoh. The office was highly esteemed in Ancient Egypt. Many of the princes of the courts of Suphis and Sephres have inscribed it in the long catalogue of their titles. The peculiarities of the climate and soil of Egypt are especially suited to the culture of the vine, and of these days of old scarcely a tomb remains in which the entire process of the vintner's art, from the planting and watering of the vine-stocks up to the pouring of the expressed juice from vessel to vessel, and storing it in earthen jars, is not most carefully and elaborately depicted. That the oversight of the royal vineyards was also associated with the function of cup-bearer to the king is highly probable, though for the formal statement of the fact we are indebted altogether to the passage before us. It was once imagined that the vine did not grow in Egypt in ancient times, because Herodotus and the Greek authors do not mention it. We believe one of the infidel objections of the last century to the passage before us was founded upon this circumstance. The tombs, however, have a voice to answer it.
“But think on me when it shall be well with thee, and show kindness, I pray thee, unto me; and make mention of me unto Phoraoh, and bring me out of this house. For indeed, I was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews, and here also have I done nothing, that they should put me into the dungeon.”
"And it came to pass the third day, even Pharaoh's birthday, that he made a banquet for all his court (entourage),—and he restored the prince of the vineyards to his office again, and he gave the cup into Pharaoh's hand.”....
“Yet did not the prince of the vineyards remember Joseph, but forgat him.” Gen. xl. 14, 15, 20, 21, 23.
For the elucidation of this passage, there is no occasion to dig among the burning sands of Egypt. It is human nature, and every man's experience will amply illustrate it. Happy they who are taught by a trial somewhat less severe, than that undergone by the poor Hebrew boy in the dungeon, that “it is better to trust in the Lord, than to put any confidence in princes." Psalm cxlvi. 3.
“And when the prince, the high steward (of the cooks, litt), saw that the interpretation was good, he said unto Joseph, I also was in my dream, and behold I had three baskets of white (probably pure) meats upon my head. And in the uppermost basket was all manner of bake-meats for Pharaoh ; and the birds did eat them out of the basket upon my head." Gen. xl. 16, 17.
The illustration of this passage to be found in the cotemporary tombs of Egypt, is to the full as