Some people think dreams in the bible are messages from God, while others believe that they are simply an attempt by God to show people things that may not be true. But there are many dreams in the bible that are more than just mere coincidences or random visions. I have collected all of them for your reading pleasure and studying, so you can explore what happens behind your closed eyes when you sleep.
Meaning of dreams in the bible
Dreams play a significant role in the Bible, and they are often regarded as a means through which God communicates with people. Throughout the biblical text, dreams are used to convey messages, provide guidance, offer prophetic insights, and reveal divine will. Here are a few key points regarding the meaning of dreams in the Bible:
In the Bible, God used dreams to communicate His messages to individuals. For example, in the Old Testament, God spoke to Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, and many prophets through dreams, giving them guidance, warnings, and promises.
Prophetic dreams in the Bible are visions of future events or revelations. They often contain symbolic imagery and require interpretation. The prophet Daniel, for instance, had many dreams and visions that revealed future kingdoms and events.
Symbolism and Interpretation
Dreams in the Bible often involve symbolic elements and require interpretation to understand their meaning. Joseph, the son of Jacob, had dreams that symbolized his future rise to power and authority. Likewise, the pharaoh of Egypt had dreams that Joseph interpreted as foretelling a coming famine.
Warning and Guidance
Dreams in the Bible were sometimes used to warn individuals or provide them with guidance. For example, Joseph, Mary’s husband, received divine instructions in a dream to take Mary as his wife and flee to Egypt to protect Jesus from King Herod’s harm.
Dreams were also a way for people in the Bible to have encounters with the divine. Jacob famously had a dream of a ladder reaching heaven with angels ascending and descending, which symbolized God’s presence and promise to him.
It’s important to note that not all dreams mentioned in the Bible are considered divine revelations or have prophetic significance. Some dreams may be simply the product of the dreamer’s thoughts, desires, or subconscious experiences. Therefore, discernment and understanding are necessary to distinguish between ordinary dreams and those with spiritual meaning.
Where are dreams mentioned in the Bible?
The first reference to a dream in the Bible comes in Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.” The Hebrew word “heaven” here is derived from a root meaning “fly through.” In other words, God created everything through an act of flying or levitation.
The following reference to a dream comes in Genesis 37:5-10: “And she dreamed yet another dream and told it to her husband and said, ‘I had another dream, and this time I thought You were an angel of God who came down to me. But now that I have woken up and seen it clearly before me, I know this is but a dream, so let us fear Him.’ So he did not despise her.”
At this point in history, there was no written record of dreams being interpreted by others. They were interpreted by each person individually based on their own experiences with dreams.
Dreams in the Bible are also mentioned in Daniel’s vision; he saw a great image of a man with a head of gold, a chest, arms of silver, and legs of iron. He was standing on the toes of his feet, holding up the four winds (Dan. 2:32). This image is an interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Daniel’s chapter two.
In Ezekiel’s vision, he saw a wheel within a wheel. The outer wheel had eyes all around and it represented kingdoms (Ezek. 1:15–21). The inner wheel was made up of four faces: one face looked toward one direction, another face looked toward another direction, and so on (Ezek. 1:26–28). These represent four kingdoms that would come into existence after Israel left Egypt (Ezek. 4:1–3).
What is the difference between dreams and visions in the Bible?
Dreams in the Bible and visions in the Bible are different from each other.
Dreams are usually interpreted as the result of a natural process, such as sleeping or dreaming. In this case, the dreamer does not know what has happened to him or her.
Visions, on the other hand, are considered supernatural events during sleep. These events are usually obvious and sometimes have a message for us.
Does God speak through dreams and visions?
Dreams and visions are one of the most powerful ways that God communicates with us, but it can be difficult to distinguish between the messages we receive in our dreams and those that come from God.
Many believe God speaks through dreams and visions, but many others don’t. This article will explore why God may or may not speak through these forms of communication, as well as what you can do to better understand them.
What does God say about following your dreams?
The Bible is full of stories about people who follow their dreams. Moses, David, and Daniel all had huge dreams in the bible that came true. One of my favorite stories is in 1 Samuel 17. David was just a shepherd boy who had no idea what he would someday become. But God gave him a dream and told him to go for it.
“And [David] fell on his face: and they kissed one another, and wept” (1 Samuel 18:3).
David’s dream in the Bible was to be king over all of Israel; he wanted to be like Saul, who had been king for many years. But Saul had rejected God’s plan for him, so David could not follow in his footsteps. Instead, David followed his dream to become king!
We can learn many things from this story: First, you should never give up on your dreams just because someone else has failed before you! David had nothing but doubts when he began his journey, but then he said “yes!” And look at what happened! He became one of the most fabulous kings in history! His success story teaches us that if we believe in our dreams enough and ask God for help along the way, then anything is possible!
List of Dreams in the Bible and their meaning
1. Abimelech’s warning
Long before the nation of Israel settled between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River, their ancestor Abraham sojourned throughout the territory with his wife, Sarah. Abraham was a rich guy (and therefore a pretty big deal), so it’s not like he and Sarah just stopped at a Holiday Inn late at night before leaving the next day at first. So when Abraham moved to a new city, that city’s leadership took note.
There was a big problem, though: Sarah was gorgeous. And some city leaders had enough power to take whatever they wanted by force. So if a king had a crush on the new girl in town, all he had to do was murder her husband and take the woman for himself. (Nice people.)
So when Abraham makes his way to Gerar, he’s concerned that his wife is so attractive that Gerar’s king, Abimelech, will kill him to be with her. Abraham has a backup plan: he tells everyone Sarah is his sister.
It turns out that Abimelech is totally into Sarah. He takes Sarah into his harem, but God comes to him in a dream before he goes anywhere near the woman. You can read the whole exchange for yourself in Genesis 20, but the gist is: “Back off, dude: she’s taken.”
It’s probably worth noting here that Sarah is about 89 years old when this goes down. Mesopotamian pilates is one of the world’s lost treasures.
2. Jacob’s ladder
Jacob’s twin brother wants to kill him—though, to be fair, Jacob did cheat him out of the family blessing. So Jacob’s on the run. He stops to sleep one night and dreams of a grand stairway stretching from earth to heaven, with divine beings moving up and down.
At the top of the ladder is the Lord, who promises that Jacob will return home and his descendants will possess the land of Canaan.
3. Jacob’s call home
Jacob loves the land of his relative Laban, where he marries Laban’s daughters and works with his herds. Laban’s a tricky guy. He takes advantage of Jacob on several occasions. However, God still provides for Jacob—so much so that Jacob’s wealth overtakes Laban’s. Laban’s sons aren’t too happy with this, and Jacob senses that he is not among friends.
God comes to Jacob in a dream. The dream recaps Laban’s mistreatment of Jacob and shows that God has been providing for Jacob despite Laban’s schemes. The dream’s message is clear: it’s time to go home.
4. Laban’s warning
Jacob takes off with his flocks and family—Laban’s daughters and grandchildren. Laban isn’t pleased about this, so he pursues Jacob. But before he catches up to Jacob, God comes to Laban in a dream. God warns Laban not to say anything good or bad to Jacob—just let him go.
5 & 6. Joseph’s grain and stars
Jacob’s favorite son Joseph has two dreams in the bible that wrench the family dynamic. In the first dream, Joseph and his brothers gather the grain into sheaves. Joseph’s sheaf stands upright, but the brother’s bundles of grain bow down to Joseph’s sheaf.
This aggravates Joseph’s brothers. Not only is Joseph the favorite son, but now he thinks that he’s going to rule over the rest of them?
Then Joseph has another dream. The sun, moon, and eleven stars bow down to him this time. This peeves his brothers and his father. “Kid? You think we’re all going to bow to you?”
Joke’s on them (Gn 42:6–9).
7. The cupbearer’s grapes
Through a series of unfortunate events, Joseph finds himself in prison. He meets two other prisoners with troubling dreams: Pharaoh’s former cupbearer and former baker.
The cupbearer dreams in the Bible of a grapevine with three branches, which he harvests and presses into Pharaoh’s cup. The three branches represent three days between the dream and the cupbearer’s restoration to Pharaoh’s court.
8. The baker’s baskets
The baker has a dream, too. In the dream, he carries three bread baskets on his head—but the birds eat the bread from them.
Not all dreams in the bible are good ones. The three baskets represent another three days—at the end of which Pharaoh beheads the baker, and the birds eat the baker’s flesh.
9 & 10. Pharaoh’s cows and grain
Pharaoh has two disturbing dreams in the bible. In one, seven fat cows are devoured by seven skinny ones. In another, seven plump ears of grain are devoured by seven thin ones.
Only the prisoner Joseph can interpret this dream riddle: Egypt is destined to have seven years of good harvest, followed by seven years of devastating famine.
Joseph’s wisdom earns him the second-highest position in the kingdom, which allows him to accommodate his father and brothers when they seek refuge from the famine. (By the way: this is the biblical story of how Israel’s ancestors came to Egypt, where their descendants were eventually enslaved.)
11. The runaway barley loaf
Fast-forward to the book of Judges: Jacob’s and Joseph’s descendants have followed Moses and Joshua back to Canaan and settled in the land. But they still conflict with the surrounding nations, including the Midianites. After Midian oppresses Israel for seven years, God raises a leader named Gideon to overthrow them.
The night before Gideon storms the Midianite camp, Gideon overhears two Midianites discussing a dream one of them had: a loaf of barley rolls into camp and overturns a tent.
Somehow, the other guy can tell what the dream means: “This can be nothing other than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite. God has given the Midianites and the whole camp into his hands.”
Way to connect the dots, guy.
12. Solomon’s blank check
Suppose the Creator of the universe came to you in a dream one night and said, “You know what? Ask me for anything—anything you want. I’ll give it to you.” What would you ask for?
That’s what happens to king Solomon, son of the giant-slayer David. God comes to him in a dream offering him a divine blank check. Solomon plays it smart and asks for wisdom—not wealth, power, or long life. So God grants him all of the above.
It’s a pretty sweet deal.
13. Nebuchadnezzar’s statue
The king of Babylon has terrifying dreams in the Bible, and nobody can interpret them but the Hebrew wise man, Daniel. This dream involves an enormous statue made of various materials—which represent different world kingdoms. The statue is smashed by a stone which becomes a mountain, representing the coming kingdom of God.
14. Nebuchadnezzar’s tree
The same king, same problem: a troubling dream that only Daniel can interpret. This time a huge, magnificent tree is cut down to earth, and the stump and roots are left to go mad.
The dream represents Nebuchadnezzar’s coming downfall: God’s judgment on him for his arrogance.
15. Daniel’s beasts
Now it’s Daniel’s turn to have dreams. In this dream, Daniel sees a lion, a bear, a leopard, and another strange, ten-horned beast come out of the sea. The Ancient of Days judges the beasts, and the Son of Man is given dominion over all the earth. The four beasts represent human empires.
16–20. Dreams in the bible surrounding Jesus’ birth
A cluster of five dreams in the bible surrounds the birth of Christ in the first two chapters of :
- Joseph’s message. An angel tells Mary’s betrothed that there is no need to divorce her. The child she is expecting is the savior (Matthew 1:18–24).
- Magi’s warning. The wise men visit the young Jesus. God tells them in a dream to avoid King Herod as they return home—the jealous king wants to kill the boy.
- Joesph’s warning. Likewise, God warns Joseph to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt before Herod hunts down the children of Bethlehem.
- Return to Nazareth. After Herod dies, God tells Joseph he can come back home from Egypt.
- But not via Judea. However, Herod’s son is in power, so God warns Joseph to steer clear of his territory.
21. Pilate’s wife’s nightmare
Jesus is on trial, right before he’s crucified. Pontius Pilate’s wife has a nightmare about the trial her husband is presiding over because she knows that Jesus is innocent.
Interpretation of Dreams in the Bible
Dream interpretation in the Bible involves understanding the symbolic and spiritual meaning of the elements, events, and messages within a dream. Here are a few principles and examples of dream interpretation in the Bible:
Seek Divine Guidance:
In the Bible, dream interpretation was often sought from God or individuals gifted with the ability to interpret dreams. Joseph, for instance, had the ability to interpret dreams and was called upon by Pharaoh to interpret his dreams about the coming famine in Egypt.
Dreams in the Bible often contain symbolic elements that need to be deciphered. These symbols may represent individuals, objects, or events. For example, in the book of Daniel, the dream of a statue composed of different materials represented various kingdoms.
Context and Personal Relevance:
Dream interpretation takes into account the context and personal relevance of the dreamer. Dreams are influenced by the dreamer’s experiences, emotions, and circumstances. Joseph’s dreams in the book of Genesis, which symbolized his future rule and authority, were personally relevant to him and his family.
Divine Messages and Warnings:
Dreams can convey messages, warnings, or instructions from God. For instance, in the New Testament, Joseph, Mary’s husband, received a dream warning him of King Herod’s intention to harm Jesus and instructing him to flee to Egypt.
Some dreams in the Bible have prophetic significance, providing insights into future events or God’s plans. These dreams often require interpretation. The book of Revelation contains numerous symbolic and prophetic dreams that reveal the end times.
Dream interpretation in the Bible requires spiritual discernment and seeking God’s wisdom. The Holy Spirit can guide individuals in understanding the spiritual significance of dreams and their application in their lives.
Dreams in the Bible Verses with interpretations
|Jacob’s Ladder||The ladder symbolizes a connection between heaven and earth, signifying God’s presence and His promise to bless and protect Jacob.||Genesis 28:10-19|
|Joseph’s Dreams||The dreams indicate Joseph’s future rise to power and authority, representing God’s plan for his life and his role in the salvation of his family.||Genesis 37:5-10|
|Pharaoh’s Dreams||The dreams foreshadow a period of abundance followed by a severe famine, prompting Pharaoh to seek Joseph’s wisdom and provision.||Genesis 41:1-36|
|Solomon’s Dream||God’s appearance in the dream confirms Solomon’s request for wisdom and grants him exceptional insight for his reign as king.||1 Kings 3:5-15|
|Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream||The dream represents the rise and fall of empires, with the ultimate establishment of God’s eternal kingdom.||Daniel 2:1-45|
|Daniel’s Dream of Four Beasts||The four beasts symbolize four future kingdoms, each with its own characteristics and dominion, leading to God’s final reign.||Daniel 7:1-28|
|Nebuchadnezzar’s Tree Dream||The dream illustrates Nebuchadnezzar’s pride and subsequent downfall, followed by his restoration upon acknowledging God’s sovereignty.||Daniel 4:4-37|
|Joseph’s Dream to Flee to Egypt||The dream serves as a divine warning to Joseph, instructing him to protect Jesus from Herod’s persecution by seeking refuge in Egypt.||Matthew 2:13|
|Pilate’s Wife’s Dream||The dream emphasizes the innocence of Jesus and warns Pilate of the consequences of getting involved in His crucifixion.||Matthew 27:19|
|Peter’s Vision||The vision reveals that the Gospel is not limited to the Jews but is also meant for the Gentiles, breaking down cultural barriers.||Acts 10:9-16|
|Paul’s Macedonian Call||The vision compels Paul to venture into Macedonia, guiding him to spread the Gospel and establish churches in that region.||Acts 16:9-10|
|The Cupbearer and the Baker’s Dreams||Joseph’s interpretations accurately foretell the cupbearer’s restoration and the baker’s execution, demonstrating his gift of prophecy.||Genesis 40:1-23|
|Gideon’s Dream||The dream confirms Gideon’s upcoming victory over the Midianites and assures him of God’s presence and assistance in battle.||Judges 7:13-15|
|Samuel’s Call||The dream marks Samuel’s divine calling as a prophet and sets him apart for God’s service in a time of spiritual darkness.||1 Samuel 3:1-18|
|Solomon’s Dream of Wisdom||God’s appearance in the dream grants Solomon’s request for wisdom, leading to his renowned judgment and prosperity as a king.||1 Kings 3:5-15|
|Abimelech’s Warning Dream||The dream warns Abimelech against taking Abraham’s wife, Sarah, as his own, revealing her true identity and preventing wrongdoing.||Genesis 20:3-7|
|Paul’s Dream of a Man in Macedonia||The vision serves as a clear guidance for Paul to travel to Macedonia and bring the Gospel to that region, fulfilling God’s plan.||Acts 16:9-10|
|Joseph’s Dream of Mary’s Pregnancy||The dream assures Joseph that Mary’s child is conceived by the Holy Spirit and confirms Jesus’ divine nature and purpose.||Matthew 1:20-21|
|Solomon’s Dream of the Temple||The dream affirms God’s approval of Solomon’s desire to build the temple and promises His presence and blessing upon its completion.||1 Kings 3:2-4|
|Daniel’s Dream of the Seventy Weeks||The vision unveils the timeline leading to the arrival of the Messiah and provides insight into significant events in history.||Daniel 9:20-27|
|Paul’s Dream of Encouragement||The Lord appears in the dream to encourage Paul, assuring him of divine protection and strengthening his resolve to continue his mission.||Acts 23:11|
- These interpretations capture the key themes and messages conveyed by each dream, as understood from the biblical narratives.