More Teachings With Opposite Meanings
The Book of Genesis records events that are the oldest in the Holy Scriptures. These early teachings and examples can have meaning for us today. In one section of Genesis, we have early narratives that use a single word in the context of two prophecies, but the intended sign in one prophecy of that same word is the exact opposite from that in the other sign. This is to instruct us that we must use an extra amount of caution in giving God’s answer in interpreting signs. Of course, if we have the spirit of God in us, as did Joseph the son of Jacob (and given the unique authority to reveal the meaning of signs), then we can make the correct interpretation. Look at Genesis 40:823.
“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 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.
“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. But think on me when it shall be well with thee, and shew kindness, I pray thee, unto me, and make mention of me unto Pharaoh, 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.
“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. 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. 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 [exalting his head with a crown] 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: But he hanged the chief baker [the rope around his neck lifted up his head]: as Joseph had interpreted to them. Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him.”
Such puzzles and play on words were used quite often in ancient times. And, as I have shown, they are even used in the Bible as signs and prophecies. One must be profoundly careful in interpreting them. In the secular world, most of us remember the prophetic oracle that was given to King Croesus of Lydia in Asia Minor when he wanted divine knowledge if he would win the war against the Persians that he was evoking. The famous oracle at Delphi stated that if he set out against the Persians he would destroy a great empire.
Croesus, of course, interpreted the prophetic oracle in his own favor. But alas, the prophecy came true. The “great empire” that would be destroyed was that of Croesus himself and his Lydians. It is well known that the oracles that were given to the ancients (before such readings became unpopular by the first century) could almost always be interpreted in a positive or a negative sense and seldom did they ever prove wrong (that is, if the priests were expert and clever in manipulating the words).
There are such prophecies or situations even in the Holy Scriptures. Note the incident involving Haman and Mordecai mentioned in the Book of Esther. Haman hated Mordecai. Indeed, Haman had constructed a gallows for Mordecai, but the Persian king (whose queen was Esther) wanted to honor Mordecai unbeknown to Haman.
“And the king said, What honour and dignity hath been done to Mordecai for this? There is nothing done for him. And the king said, Who is in the court? And the king’s servants said unto him, Behold, Haman standeth in the court. And the king said, Let him come in. So Haman came in. And the king said unto him, What shall be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour? Now Haman thought in his heart, To whom would the king delight to do honour more than to myself?
“And Haman answered the king, For the man whom the king delighteth to honour, Let the royal apparel be brought which the king usethto wear, and the horse that the king rideth upon, and the crown royal which is set upon his head: And let this apparel and horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king’s most noble princes, that they may array the man withalwhom the king delighteth to honour, and bring him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaim before him, Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honour. Then the king said to Haman, Make haste, and take the apparel and the horse, as thou hast said, and do even so to Mordecai the Jew, that sitteth at the king’s gate: let nothing fail of all that thou hast spoken.
“Then took Haman the apparel and the horse, and arrayed Mordecai, and brought him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaimed before him, Thus shall it be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour. And Mordecai came again to the king’s gate. But Haman hasted to his house mourning, and having his head covered. And Haman told Zeresh his wife and all his friends every thing that had befallen him…. And Harbonah, one of the chamberlains, said before the king, Behold also, the gallows fifty cubits high, which Haman had made for Mordecai, who had spoken good for the king, standeth in the house of Haman. Then the king said, Hang him thereon. So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then was the king’s wrath pacified” (excerpts from Esther chapters 6 & 7).
This true story is again pertinent to our study of interpreting signs or any biblical circumstance. Haman made a big mistake in his interpretation. This event is recorded by God to show that we must learn to be careful in what we might hastily assume to be proper.
Taken from: http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d980210.htm