Dreams in the Bible

Do not interpretations belong to God? Genesis 40:8

If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. Numbers 12:1

If there arise among you ... a dreamer of dreams ... Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of ... that dreamer of dreams. ... That dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death. Deuteronomy 13:1-5


Abimelech's Dream

God threatens to kill Abimelech and his people. (For believing Abraham's lie)

But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man's wife.

But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation?

Said he not unto me, She is my sister? and she, even she herself said, He is my brother: in the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this.

And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her. Genesis 20:3-6

Jacob's Ladder

While Jacob was sleeping with a pillow of stones, he dreamed of a stairway to heaven.

And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep.

And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. Genesis 28:11-12

Jacob's sheep

Laban agreed to let Jacob take all the speckled sheep and goats as payment for his labors. So Jacob had a brilliant idea: he'd paint stripes on rods and display them to the animals while they copulated. That way all of their offspring would be striped and speckled! And it worked. (See Genesis 30:32-43)

Just before Jacob left Laban's place, God contacted him in a dream praising him for his fancy science experiment, and telling him to go home.

Thus God hath taken away the cattle of your father, and given them to me.

And it came to pass at the time that the cattle conceived, that I lifted up mine eyes, and saw in a dream, and, behold, the rams which leaped upon the cattle were ringstraked, speckled, and grisled.

And the angel of God spake unto me in a dream, saying, Jacob: And I said, Here am I.

And he said, Lift up now thine eyes, and see, all the rams which leap upon the cattle are ringstraked, speckled, and grisled: for I have seen all that Laban doeth unto thee.

I am the God of Bethell, where thou anointedst the pillar, and where thou vowedst a vow unto me: now arise, get thee out from this land, and return unto the land of thy kindred. Genesis 31:9-13

God's warning to Laban

After Jacob left with his speckled sheep and goats, Laban chased after him. God came to Jacob's rescue by speaking to Laban in a dream, saying, "Don't say anything good or bad to Jacob" -- which apparently did the trick.

God came to Laban the Syrian in a dream by night, and said unto him, Take heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad. Genesis 31:24

Joseph's Dreams

Joseph's brothers hated him because their father loved him more than his other children. They hated him even more when he started telling them about his dreams -- in which they all worship him.

And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more.

And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed:

For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf. Genesis 37:5-7

And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. Genesis 37:9

The Butler and Baker's Dreams

Soon after Joseph arrived in Egypt, he was accused of raping Potiphar's wife and was imprisoned. He soon found favor with the prison keeper, though, and was given charge of the other prisoners.

In the meantime, the Pharaoh's butler and baker were imprisoned. While there, they each had a dream on the same night. Joseph saw them the next day and noticed that they looked sad. So he asked why. They said it was because they couldn't find anyone to interpet their dreams.

Joseph told them that they were in luck. He could interpret them, no sweat.

Here's the butler's dream:

And the chief butler told his dream to Joseph, and said to 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. Genesis 40:9-11

And here's Joseph's interpretation of the dream:

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 Pharaoh's cup into his hand, after the former manner when thou wast his butler. 40:12-13

And by golly, that's just what happened!

And it came to pass the third day, which was Pharaoh's birthday, that he made a feast unto all his servants: and he lifted up the head of the chief butler and of the chief baker among his servants.

And he restored the chief butler unto his butlership again; and he gave the cup into Pharaoh's hand. 40:20-21

When the baker heard Joseph's happy interpretation of the butler's dream, he couldn't wait to tell Joseph his dream, as well.

Here is the baker's dream:

When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was good, he said unto Joseph, I also was in my dream, and, behold, I had three white baskets on my head:

And in the uppermost basket there was of all manner of bakemeats for Pharaoh; and the birds did eat them out of the basket upon my head. 40:16-17

And Joseph's interpretation:

And Joseph answered and said, This is the interpretation thereof: The three baskets are three days:

Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thy head from off thee, and shall hang thee on a tree; and the birds shall eat thy flesh from off thee. 40:18-19

Unfortunately for the baker, Joseph was right on the money again!

Here's what happened:

But he hanged the chief baker: as Joseph had interpreted to them. 40:22

The Pharaoh's Dreams

Two years after the butler and baker's dreams came true (with the help of God and Joseph's interpretation), the Pharoah had two dreams.

His first dream went like this: There were these seven fat, good-looking cows that came out of the Nile, followed by seven skinny, ugly cows. The skinny cows ate the fat ones.

And it came to pass at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh dreamed: and, behold, he stood by the river.

And, behold, there came up out of the river seven well favoured kine and fatfleshed; and they fed in a meadow.

And, behold, seven other kine came up after them out of the river, ill favoured and leanfleshed; and stood by the other kine upon the brink of the river.

And the ill favoured and leanfleshed kine did eat up the seven well favoured and fat kine. So Pharaoh awoke. Genesis 41:1-4

Then the Pharaoh had another dream. This time seven skinny heads of grain at seven fat ones.

And he slept and dreamed the second time: and, behold, seven ears of corn came up upon one stalk, rank and good.

And, behold, seven thin ears and blasted with the east wind sprung up after them.

And the seven thin ears devoured the seven rank and full ears. And Pharaoh awoke, and, behold, it was a dream. 41:5-7

None of the Pharaoh's magicians or wise men could interpret his dreams, so they called Joseph.

Joseph said it was simple. God was going to send seven good years followed by seven years of famine. And the famine would be world-wide and "very grievous."

And Joseph said unto Pharaoh, The dream of Pharaoh is one: God hath shewed Pharaoh what he is about to do.

The seven good kine are seven years; and the seven good ears are seven years: the dream is one.

And the seven thin and ill favoured kine that came up after them are seven years; and the seven empty ears blasted with the east wind shall be seven years of famine.

This is the thing which I have spoken unto Pharaoh: What God is about to do he sheweth unto Pharaoh. ...

And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass. 41:25-32

And it all happened as Joseph predicted. The Pharaoh did what Joseph suggested and had Joseph oversee it all. And Joseph became the most powerful man in Egypt.

And the seven years of dearth began to come, according as Joseph had said: and the dearth was in all lands; but in all the land of Egypt there was bread.

And when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread: and Pharaoh said unto all the Egyptians, Go unto Joseph; what he saith to you, do.

And the famine was over all the face of the earth: and Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold unto the Egyptians; and the famine waxed sore in the land of Egypt.

And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands. 41:54-57

When the famine struck, everyone on earth had to buy their food from Joseph. If they couldn't travel that far or didn't have enough money, they starved. It was all part of God's plan (to make Joseph wealthy).

A man who dreamed of barley cakes

Gideon wasn't worried about attacking a gazillion Midianites with an army of 300 water lappers, because some guy told his friend about a dream he had about barley cakes and tents. The barley cake smote the tents and -- well, anyway, it was a sign from God that he and Gideon would massacre the Midianites.

And when Gideon was come, behold, there was a man that told a dream unto his fellow, and said, Behold, I dreamed a dream, and, lo, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the host of Midian, and came unto a tent, and smote it that it fell, and overturned it, that the tent lay along.

And it was so, when Gideon heard the telling of the dream, and the interpretation thereof, that he worshipped, and returned into the host of Israel, and said, Arise; for the LORD hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian. Judges 7:13-15

Solomon

In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee. 1 Kings 3:5

Solomon said (in a hundred words or so), "Wisdom."

God said (in even more words), "Okay, I'll make you the wisest guy who has ever lived. I'll also make you the richest king. And, if you'll "walk in my ways" like David did, then you'll live a long life."

And Solomon awoke; and, behold, it was a dream. 1 Kings 3:15