What Does the Bible Say About Dreams?

You blink a few times and wake up in bed or maybe from a nap on your couch. That was so vivid, you think, as the images from your mind slowly come back to you. You just had a dream that was so real. Or perhaps surreal. Maybe you dreamt about a loved one or perhaps the dream just felt symbolic? Was it from God? Did it mean something? What does the Bible say about our dreams?

Saul. Daniel. Even Herod.

These are just a few people mentioned in the Bible that are said to have had dreams that changed the course of their lives, but what do they mean and how can we know? How does God use dreams? And can anyone interpret dreams? Let’s take a look at one of the most notable figures in the Old Testament pertaining to dreams: Joseph.

Owen Jones – Joseph dreams of stars

Joseph’s Dream (Read Gen. 37:5-11)

Joseph’s ten older brothers resent their father’s favoritism as much as Joseph’s attitude. Young Joseph fails to understand the depth of his brothers’ loathing toward him. With little tact and wisdom, Joseph shares his dreams with his family.

One night, Joseph dreams that his brothers and parents bow before him. The Bible does not say that Joseph’s dreams come from God. In fact, we do not know that is the case until the end of the story, when the dreams become reality. It is also the straw that breaks the camel’s back for his brothers. 

Of Dreams and Gods

Dreams were important in the ancient world, especially in Egypt. The Egyptians had texts that priests would use to interpret dreams. Dreams were windows into the world of the gods. For this reason, priests were the people who could best interpret them.

When Pharaoh asks Joseph to interpret his dreams, Joseph replies, “I cannot do it, but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires” (Gen. 41:16). Joseph claims that his God, the God of the Bible, can do something Pharaoh’s gods failed to do. Joseph is confident because, as he said before, “Do not interpretations belong to God?” (Gen. 40:8). It is an astonishing claim.

Although the Egyptians were quite open to other people’s gods, they were confident their own gods were superior. Joseph’s claim suggests that the interpretation of dreams belongs to God because revelation through dreams comes from God! Joseph is proclaiming God’s superiority over the Egyptians’ gods.

Did you enjoy this post? You can learn more about Joseph’s story and about dreams in the Bible in the Life of Joseph pamphlet, which is jam packed with simple summaries, timelines, charts, and so much more!


Life of Joseph Pamphlet

The Life of Joseph, is an easy-to-use, beautifully illustrated guide through God’s purposes in suffering. Follow the story of Joseph from the beginning—God’s promise to Abraham—to the reconciliation of Joseph’s family in Egypt. As Joseph was being betrayed by his brothers, God was working behind the scenes to save Joseph and his family. Life of Joseph includes a time line of the important events in the life of Joseph, a family tree of Jacob’s (Israel) sons, and a map of the journeys of Jacob and Joseph. Also included is a side-by-side comparison of the dreams Joseph interpreted and how God was working in the lives of Joseph, Jacob, his brothers, and Judah to ultimately bring about the promised Messiah, Jesus!

14 full-color, laminated panels, 8.5 x 5.5 inches. Fits inside most Bibles.

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