It is extremely unfair to link the birthday celebration of Pharaoh only with death. Remember, the butler was spared: One life was saved. One life was lost! And, the sparing of the butler's life led to the sparing of Joseph's life, which ultimately led to the saving of the whole family of Israel (see Genesis 45 and 46)! This was all as a direct result of God's gift to Joseph of the interpretation of dreams. The argument that a great deliverance - a great and generous saving and preserving of life - occurred as a result of Pharaoh's birthday celebration is actually a stronger argument for birthdays than the one used against it. One life was lost, but countless other were saved.
Did You Know . . . ?
From 1973 to 1999 the most common day of birth date in the United States was September 16 and the least common was December 25th.
The current most common date of birth in the U.S. is October 5th. This makes the most common date of conception around New Year's Eve.
On any given day around 750,000 Americans celebrate their birth.
Sources: ABC News
The only other mention in the Bible of a birthday being celebrated is that of Herod Antipas (one of Herod the Great's sons). The account can be found in Matthew 14 and Mark 6. Herod, befuddled with wine, became obsessed with lust over Salome, following her sensuous dance. Notice that he "wanted to put him to death" (John the Baptist) much earlier, but he did not because "he feared the multitude" (Matthew 14:5). This is an important point, for it renders entirely incidental and coincidental the events that transpired on this day.
Herod had already plotted to murder John. It remained for him to bolster his courage, and find some excuse or other with which to allay the anger of the people, who looked to John as a prophet. Herodias (Herod's wife) was aware of his attraction to her daughter, Salome. The mother and daughter plotted to play upon Herod's lust, and his wine-induced magnanimity, to kill John. Salome's dance so pleased Herod that he promised her "Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half my kingdom." (Mark 6:23). Mark's account adds details not included by Matthew (Mark 6:16-29), showing that Herodias was far more the instigator of John's murder than Herod.
Herod's birthday was completely incidental, providing merely an opportunity for Herodias' plan. Note that the celebration is explained as a generous gesture on his part - that of GIVING a party for others: "Then an opportune day came when Herod on his birthday gave a feast for his nobles, the high officers, and the chief men of Galilee." (Mark 6:21).
Historical evidence firmly proves that birthday celebrations among rulers were universally used as a time for magnanimity; for generosity - even for the release of prisoners (as in the case of the butler, and, later, Joseph), rather than as a time for death or murder.
Is Dead better than Alive?
Some have thought to use the lament of Job, during his incredible sufferings, as some sort of prooftext that birthdays are not to be observed. Job said: "'Why did I not die at birth? Why did I not perish when I came from the womb? . . . Or why was I not hidden like a stillborn child, like infants who never saw light?" (Job 3:11, 16). Job, in his self-righteousness, unable to see the real sin within him, is feeling deep self-pity. He is "wishing he had never been born"! Millions have experienced the feeling. But is the extreme depression of acute human suffering; the moribund desire to cease to exist - to have never been - biblical grounds for condemning the celebration of LIFE and of the significant years of a human life?
Some have tried to pair Job's statement with that of Solomon, concerning the day of one's death. He said, "For who knows what is good for man in life, all the days of his vain life which he passes like a shadow? . . . A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of one's birth" (Ecclesiastes 6:12-7:1). Using this scripture to condemn birthdays is shallow reasoning that does not see the fallacy of attempting to wrest an easily understandable lament into some vague condemnation of remembering "the day of one's birth." Should we take what Solomon said literally, and instead of celebrating one's birth we should have others rejoice when we DIE? How ludicrous would it be to see your family enjoying a special meal, giving gifts, and rejoicing when YOU die? No, Solomon was lamenting the terrible trials and troubles of this vain life. His book in the Bible is written from man’s point of view, and it shows Solomon became a candidate for suicide. To him, life was futile at best! (Ecclesiastes 2:17).
What does the Bible ultimately say about birthdays? There simply is no teaching in God's word concerning these celebrations one way or the other. There is no scripture from Genesis to Revelation which says it is wrong for us to keep track of the passing years. Neither is there a single scripture which says it is forbidden for families to rejoice at a patriarchal father reaching a great age, or hugging and loving a child, giving them a gift and congratulating them on the occasion of their birthday! In the end, it is not a sin for a person to observe the day they, or others, were born.