XX. Therefore the king hearing these things, orders men to go in haste and summon the young man before him; but they having cut his hair, for the hair, both of his head and of his beard, had grown very long while he was kept in prison, and having given him a splendid garment instead of a sordid one, and having adorned him in other ways, led him before the king; who, perceiving from his appearance that he was a free-born and noble man (for there are certain outward characteristics which are stamped upon the persons of some people whom one sees, which are not visible to all, but only to such as have very clear-sighted eyes in their mind), said, “My soul forebodes that my dreams will not be altogether permanently hidden in uncertainty; for this young man exhibits an appearance of wisdom, by which he will be able to reveal the truth, and, as it were, dissipate the darkness by light, and the ignorance of the sophists at our court by his knowledge,” And then he related to him his dream. But Joseph, without being at all dismayed at the rank and majesty of the speaker, conversed with him rather as a king with a subject than like a subject with a king, using freedom of speech, though mingled with respect, and he said: God has shown you before what he is about to do in your country. Do not imagine that the two visions which have appeared to thee are two different dreams; they are but one and the reduplication of them is not superfluous, but is intended to produce the conviction of a firmer belief; for the seven fat oxen, and the seven flourishing and vigorous ears of corn, show seven years of great fertility and plenty; and the seven lean and ill-favoured oxen which came up after the fat ones, and the seven withered and shrivelled ears of corn, denote seven other years of famine; therefore the first period of seven years thus denoted will arrive first, having great and abundant fertility of crops, in which the river will every year overflow all the land of Egypt with inundations, and all the plains, as if they had never been irrigated or fertilised before. And after these years there will come a period of seven years entirely contrary to them bringing with it a terrible want and scarcity of necessary things, during which time the river will not overflow, nor will the earth be fertilised, so that it will forget its former prosperity, and so that all that was left from the former abundance of the crops will be consumed. This then is the interpretation of the dreams which have appeared to you. But there is something divine which prompts me and communicates some suggestions to me which may be salutary in this disease; and the most terrible disease of all cities and countries is famine, which must be checked or mitigated to some degree that it may not be so exceedingly strong as to devour the inhabitants; how then can it be mitigated? That which shall be more than sufficient of the crop in the seven years, during which the plenty lasts, after having taken so much as is adequate to the nourishment of the people, and that will be perhaps a fifth part, must be stored up in granaries in the cities and villages, not removing the crops to any great distance but storing them in the countries to which they belong, and keeping them there for the relief of the people who dwell in each district; and it will be well to bring together the crop with the sheaves, not thrashing it out, nor winnowing, nor sifting it at all, for four reasons. First of all, because if it is thus protected by the straw it will remain uninjured a longer time; secondly, in order that every year the people may be reminded of the former period of plenty while they are threshing and winnowing; for the imitation of the former real blessings is calculated to produce a second pleasure; thirdly, in order to prevent any exact calculation of the quantity stored up, as, while the crop is in the ear and in the sheaf, it is of uncertain amount and not easily to be described; that so the hearts of the people of the land may not faint beforehand at the consumption of what has been treasured up, but may use with cheerfulness the nourishment of the corn which is thus provided for them, (for hope is of all things the most strengthening), and so may to a certain extent feel relief in the bitter disease of scarcity; fourthly, because in this way fodder may also be provided for the cattle, as the straw and the chaff derived from the threshing of the wheat will be of use to them in this way. And you must appoint a man to superintend all these measures, of great prudence, and great acuteness, and well approved in all matters, who may be able without incurring hatred or envy to do all that I have here described in a proper manner, without giving to the multitude any reason to suspect the impending famine; for it would be a sad thing for them to anticipate their distress, and so to faint in their souls through despair; and if any one should inquire the reason of all this being done, the superintendent may say that, as in peace it is right to provide things that may be necessary in war, so also it is desirable in years of plenty to provide against want; and that wars and famines are in their nature uncertain, and in short so are all the different events which befall men unexpectedly at different times; for which therefore it is necessary to be prepared; and not when such things have befallen one, then to seek a remedy when it is no longer of any avail.”