Why are some dreams literal, while most are symbolic?
Some people, like creatives, visionaries—really right-brained people—have more literal dreams. But for 95 percent of us, our dreams are usually symbolic, speaking to us in a figurative language we need to learn to understand. Symbolic language does not make the dream any less valid or true.
Example: Joseph’s dreams
Though the meaning was veiled in figurative expressions, it was a true message to Joseph from God.
First Dream: Genesis 35:5-8
One time Joseph had a dream. When he told his brothers about it, they hated him even more. Joseph said, “Listen to the dream I had. We were in the field tying bundles of wheat together. My bundle stood up, and your bundles of wheat gathered around mine. Your bundles bowed down to mine.”
His brothers said, “Do you really think you will be king over us? Do you truly think you will rule over us?” His brothers hated him even more now. They hated him because of his dreams and what he had said.
Second Dream: Genesis 35:9-11
Then Joseph had another dream. He told his brothers about it also. He said, “Listen, I had another dream. I saw the sun, moon and 11 stars bowing down to me.” Joseph also told his father about this dream. But his father scolded him, saying, “What kind of dream is this? Do you really believe that your mother, your brothers and I will bow down to you?” Joseph’s brothers were jealous of him. But his father thought about what all these things could mean.
Meaning of the Symbolic Dream
The Sun – Father
The Moon – Mother
The 11 Starts – His brothers
Fun Activity: What are the names of the 11 brothers? Starting from the oldest to the youngest?
Were the Dreams Actualized? Genesis 46:1-5, 28-34
Jacob Goes to Egypt
So Jacob, also called Israel, took all he had and started his trip. He went to Beersheba. There he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. 2 During the night God spoke to Israel in a vision. He said, “Jacob, Jacob.”
And Jacob answered, “Here I am.”
3 Then God said, “I am God, the God of your father. Don’t be afraid to go to Egypt. I will make your descendants a great nation there. 4 I will go to Egypt with you. And I will bring you out of Egypt again. Joseph’s own hands will close your eyes when you die.”
5 Then Jacob left Beersheba. The sons of Israel loaded their father, their children and their wives. They put them in the wagons the king of Egypt had sent. 6 They also took their farm animals and everything they had gotten in Canaan. So Jacob went to Egypt with all his descendants. 7 He took his sons and grandsons, his daughters and granddaughters. He took all his family to Egypt with him.
Jacob Arrives in Egypt
28 Jacob sent Judah ahead of him to see Joseph in Goshen. Then Jacob and his people came into the land of Goshen. 29 Joseph prepared his chariot and went to meet his father Israel in Goshen. As soon as Joseph saw his father, he hugged his neck. And he cried there for a long time.
30 Then Israel said to Joseph, “Now I am ready to die. I have seen your face. And I know that you are still alive.”
31 Joseph said to his brothers and his father’s family, “I will go and tell the king you are here. I will say, ‘My brothers and my father’s family have left the land of Canaan. They have come here to me. 32 They are shepherds and take care of farm animals. And they have brought their flocks and their herds and everything they own with them.’ 33 When the king calls you, he will ask, ‘What work do you do?’ 34 This is what you should tell him: ‘We, your servants, have taken care of farm animals all our lives. Our ancestors did the same thing.’ Then the king will allow you to settle in the land of Goshen. This is away from the Egyptians. They don’t like to be near shepherds.”
Bow to the Governor of Egypt
Now Joseph was governor over Egypt. He was the one who sold the grain to people who came to buy it. So Joseph’s brothers came to him. They bowed facedown on the ground before him.