Pharaoh’s Dreams – 1715 & Ancient Egypt & Freud

That was pretty rotten of the butler to forget all about Joseph. 

Did Joseph ever get out, or did the king kill him like he did the baker?

It appears that Joseph inherited some good qualities from his ancestors.  Abraham, he was strong, decided, and prudent;  Isaac was patient and gentle; Jacob was warm hearted and affectionate, and he didn’t have his brother’s hatred and anger. 

Jesus has all of the above, and more (Gal 5:22-23).

Dream Interpretation in Ancient Mesopotamia
The Mesopotamian civilization was the first to develop writing. There are detailed accounts of dreams particularly from royalty dating back to the third millennium BC. The earliest of which is called the dream of Dumuzi of Uruk. This is the earliest dream ever recorded in history and not only is the dream itself available but its interpretation as well.

Dumuzi dreams of his own death. He tells his sister Ngeshtin-ana who is a dream interpreter and she tells him that it is a sign that he is about to be overthrown in an uprising by evil and hungry men. Shortly after she interprets his dream a large army is seen on the horizon.

Dream interpretation in ancient Mesopotamia was based on the fact that every event was thought to have personal meaning to the observer. A strong emphasis was placed on detailed recounting of the dream itself. The idea that one thing may cause or lead to another was not as important as the concept that all of these events were seen as communication from the divine.

The Mesopotamians were specialists in the art of predicting the future from various rituals. They foretold events from the murmuring of springs to the shape of plants. They claim the trees spoke to them as well as animals. Serpents were considered to be the wisest of all animals. Atmospheric science, rain, clouds, wind and lightning were interpreted as forebodings. Even the creaking of furniture and wooden panels would be interpreted in terms of future events. Flies and other insects as well as dogs were all the carriers of the messages of the future.

Mesopotamia was noted throughout the ancient world for its magi who were men and women who saw a unity in nature and harmony in the universe which bound together all objects in all events. Nothing was accidental. During dreaming they considered that the soul or some part of it moved from the body of the sleeping person and actually visited place and persons the dreamer would see in his sleep. Sometimes even the God of dreams Marduk is said to have carried to the dreamer.

King Assurbanipal had a dream in which his army attempted to cross the river but became terrified of the rivers current and undertow. He consulted his dream interpreters who said that the goddess Ishtar would protect them. The King decided to continue with the treacherous crossing but his army survived.

Bad dreams dealing with sexual issues or taboo relationships were thought of as being caused by evil demons rising from the lore world to attack Mesopotamians.. Dream interpreters suggested that people having such dreams should tell them to a lump of clay and then dissolve it in water.

The Mesopotamians were the first record dream interpretations. They also place an emphasis on using the details of the dream in a personal context to discover its true meaning. This was the beginning of dream interpretation as we know it today.

“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 favored kine and fat-fleshed; and they fed in a meadow.

And, behold, seven other kine came up after them out of the river, ill-favored and lean-fleshed; and stood by the other kine upon the brink of the river. 

And the ill-favored and lean-fleshed kine did eat up the seven well favored and fat kine.  So Pharaoh awoke.

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.

And it came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled; and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all the wise men thereof: and Pharaoh told them his dream; but there was none that could interpret them unto Pharaoh” (Gen 41:1-8).

Then the butler remembered Joseph and told Pharaoh about him, so Pharaoh sent for him.

“And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I have dreamed a dream, and there is none that can interpret it: and I have heard say of thee, that thou canst understand a dream to interpret it. 

And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace” (Gen 41:15-16).

Pharaoh told him his dream.

“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-favored 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” (Gen 41:25-27)

“Behold, there come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt:

And there shall arise after them seven years of famine; and all the plenty shall be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine shall consume the land;

And the plenty shall not be known in the land by reason of that famine following; for it shall be very grievous.

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. 

Now therefore let Pharaoh look out a man discreet and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt. 

Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, and take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt in the seven plenteous years.  

And let them gather all the food of those good years that come, and lay up corn under the hand of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities. 

And that food shall be for store to the land against the seven years of famine, which shall be in the land of Egypt; that the land perish not through the famine” (Gen 41:29-36).

This pleased Pharaoh and he appointed Joseph over Egypt; making him vizier of Egypt. 

He also gave Joseph the ring off his finger, fine clothing, a gold chain, the second best chariot, and Asenath, the daughter of Poti-pherah, the priest of On. 

Joseph named his first born Manasseh because he felt that God made him forget all of his past problems.  He named his second Ephraim, because God allowed him to be fruitful.

The seven plenteous years came as Joseph predicted, and then the famine came.

“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(Gen 41:55-56).

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

1 Nothing happens anywhere unless God causes is or allows it.

2 The Bible doesn’t name Pharaoh, nor does it show that he died in Joseph’s time.  But going by historical documents it appears as though Seosotris II was Pharaoh that had the dreams, and his son, Sesotris III was Pharaoh during the great famine.

Herakleopolitan King Kheti, who wrote a book called “Teachings for Merikare” sometime between 2070 and 2100 BC, took another approach. In this book of lessons, or instructions, for his son Merikare, Kheti advises him that the true key to the interpretation of dreams lies in the fact that the dream means the exact opposite of its symbols. Therefore, according to Kheti, a joyous dream indicated upcoming adversity. Dreams could also serve as windows through which the living could see the activities of the deceased. However, since the dreamer had no control while dreaming, there was a pervading fear that he could be accessible to malicious spirits, opening a disturbing portal to unwanted beings in the afterlife.

3 Visier of Egypt was probably equivalent to a Prime Minister.  He served as chief justice of the Egyptian courts, controlled the reservoirs and food supply, supervised industries and conservation programs, maintained a census of cattle and herds, kept agricultural statistics, including tax records, storehouse receipts, and crop assessments, and conducted censuses of the population.

4 It isn’t known exactly how many people were on the earth at this time, but Egypt was the only food supplier in existence and it was only approximately 10,000 square miles, roughly the size of Maryland.

Ancient Egypt & Freud

Who was Thutmosis IV, and why would he come here, to the area of the Sphinx?

Thutmosis IV was the eighth king of the 18th dynasty, which is during Egypt’s New Kingdom, a period when Egypt was really at its height.

This area, at that time, was like a recreation area for the pharaohs. They would come here to hunt, ride their chariots, do target practice.

What is the story written on Thutmosis IV’s stela?

The Dream Stela describes a time when he was just newly king. (Scholars put his reign at 1401-1391 B.C.).

According to the stela, Thutmosis IV was strolling here one day, all alone. Around midday, he got very hot and decided to rest in the shadow of the Great Sphinx.

And at the moment when the sun hit the zenith – was at the top of the sky – the god Horem-Akhet-Khepri-Re-Atum came to him in a dream and basically told him that if he cleared away the sands that had been building up around (the Sphinx), the god would make sure that Thutmosis IV was the ruler of upper and lower Egypt, unified.

Who was the god with whom Thutmosis IV supposedly had this bargain.

The stela describes him as Horem-Akhet, which means Horus in the horizon – that is, the aspect of Horus as a sun god, i.e., the Evil Eye of Horus

He also describes him as Khepri-Re-Atum, which is all the aspects of the sun god rolled into one—the sun god in the morning, the sun god in the day, and the sun god at night.

The stela says that the god appeared to Thutmosis IV in the form of the Sphinx itself.

There is clearly significance to the time of day. The zenith, when the sun is right at the highest point, is a time when the sun seems to stand still.

For the Egyptians, of course, the sun god was of primary importance, and that’s when he was overhead.

In ancient Egypt, when pharaohs wanted to record something for eternity and have it be known not only to mortals, but more importantly, to the gods, they wrote in stone.

The hieroglyphs carved into the Dream Stela of Thutmosis IV, an enormous upright slab at the base of the Sphinx, tell a portentous story of a young king’s bargain with the sun god. In this interview, Egyptologist Kasia Szpakowska deciphers the stela for Gary Glassman, producer of NOVA’s “Riddles of the Sphinx.”

The Dream Stela describes a time when he was just newly king. [Scholars put his reign at 1401–1391 B.C.] According to the stela, Thutmosis IV was strolling here one day, all alone. Around midday, he got very hot and decided to rest in the shadow of the Great Sphinx.

And at the moment when the sun hit the zenith—was at the top of the sky—the god Horem-Akhet-Khepri-Re-Atum came to him in a dream and basically told him that if he cleared away the sands that had been building up around [the Sphinx], the god would make sure that Thutmosis IV was the ruler of upper and lower Egypt, unified.

In addition, a lot of magical texts mention noontime as a time when the barriers between this world and the divine world are lowered.

And in that way, the gods could more easily communicate with people like the king. It was a time when scary things could happen, but also wondrous things.

Was it unusual, in Egyptian lore, for a god to speak to a mortal?

It was very unusual for a god to speak to a mortal. The kings, however, throughout Egyptian history would be spoken to by gods.

They received communications from gods through revelations and oracles. But seeing a god in a dream was an extremely rare phenomenon.

So that’s also part of the reason that Thutmosis IV erected the stela – to emphasize that he was the person whom the god chose to speak to in this very, very intimate encounter during a dream.

What did the Egyptians think about dreams?

Dreams were considered an external phenomenon. A dream was something that was outside of you.

Egyptians never said, “I was dreaming,” or “I’m dreaming right now,” or “I’d love to be dreaming.”

You saw things in a dream, as if it were something external to you, over which you had no control.

And, in fact, most of the references we have to dreams in ancient Egypt treat them as things to be avoided and feared. So they had many spells to keep away bad dreams.

In part, it’s because dreams seem to be somewhere, again, between the land of the living and the land beyond.

The inhabitants of the beyond included not only the gods, not only the dead, but also the damned, those Egyptians who had not made it successfully to the afterlife or were thought of as enemies of the king or the gods.

And those beings, through a dream, could also access a vulnerable individual while he or she was asleep, as a nightmare.

In the late 19th century, psychotherapist Sigmund Freud developed a theory that the content of dreams is driven by unconscious wish fulfillment.

Freud called dreams the “royal road to the unconscious.”  He theorized that the content of dreams reflects the dreamer’s unconscious mind and specifically that dream content is shaped by unconscious wish fulfillment.

He argued that important unconscious desires often relate to early childhood memories and experiences.

Freud’s theory describes dreams as having both manifest and latent content.

Latent content relates to deep unconscious wishes or fantasies while manifest content is superficial and meaningless. Manifest content often masks or obscures latent content.

In his early work, Freud argued that the vast majority of latent dream content is sexual in nature, but he later moved away from this categorical position.

In Beyond the Pleasure Principle he considered how trauma or aggression could influence dream content. He also discussed supernatural origins in Dreams and Occultism, a lecture published in New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis.

Jungian and Other Views of Dreams

Carl Jung rejected many of Freud’s theories. Jung expanded on Freud’s idea that dream content relates to the dreamer’s unconscious desires.

He described dreams as messages to the dreamer and argued that dreamers should pay attention for their own good.

Sphinx, mythological creature with a lion’s body and a human head, an important image in Egyptian and Greek art and legend. The word sphinx was derived by Greek grammarians from the verb sphingein (“to bind” or “to squeeze”), but the etymology is not related to the legend and is dubious. Hesiod, the earliest Greek author to mention the creature, called it Phix. The winged sphinx of Boeotian Thebes, the most famous in legend, was said to have terrorized the people by demanding the answer to a riddle taught her by the Muses—What is it that has one voice and yet becomes four-footed and two-footed and three-footed?—and devouring a man each time the riddle was answered incorrectly. Eventually Oedipus gave the proper answer: man, who crawls on all fours in infancy, walks on two feet when grown, and leans on a staff in old age. The sphinx thereupon killed herself. From this tale apparently grew the legend that the sphinx was omniscient, and even today the wisdom of the sphinx is proverbial.

He came to believe that dreams present the dreamer with revelations that can uncover and help to resolve emotional or religious problems and fears.

Jung wrote that recurring dreams show up repeatedly to demand attention, suggesting that the dreamer is neglecting an issue related to the dream.

He believed that many of the symbols or images from these dreams return with each dream.

Jung believed that memories formed throughout the day also play a role in dreaming. These memories leave impressions for the unconscious to deal with when the ego is at rest.

The unconscious mind re-enacts these glimpses of the past in the form of a dream. Jung called this a day residue.

Jung also argued that dreaming is not a purely individual concern, that all dreams are part of “one great web of psychological factors.”

Fritz Perls presented his theory of dreams as part of the holistic nature of Gestalt therapy (The whole is greater than the parts)

Dreams are seen as projections of parts of the self that have been ignored, rejected, or suppressed.

Jung argued that one could consider every person in the dream to represent an aspect of the dreamer, which he called the subjective approach to dreams.

Perls expanded this point of view to say that even inanimate objects in the dream may represent aspects of the dreamer.

The dreamer may, therefore, be asked to imagine being an object in the dream and to describe it, in order to bring into awareness the characteristics of the object that correspond with the dreamer’s personality.