Genesis Segment 30 (44:1-34)

Genesis 44:1-3 And he commanded the steward of his house, saying, Fill the men’s sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put every man’s money in his sack’s mouth. (2) And put my cup, the silver cup, in the sack’s mouth of the youngest, and his corn money. And he did according to the word that Joseph had spoken. (3) As soon as the morning was light, the men were sent away, they and their asses.

Joseph put the money they had brought for the grain and his own silver cup in Benjamin’s sack and sent them off. This made Benjamin look guilty of theft. Joseph wanted to see their reaction to this in order to test their loyalty to their father and their youngest brother.

Genesis 44:4-6 And when they were gone out of the city, and not yet far off, Joseph said unto his steward, Up, follow after the men; and when thou dost overtake them, say unto them, Wherefore have ye rewarded evil for good? (5) Is not this it in which my lord drinketh, and whereby indeed he divineth? ye have done evil in so doing. (6) And he overtook them, and he spoke unto them these same words.

This seems like a devious trick. It was not. Joseph had to know that his brothers had indeed repented of their sin toward him and this was a test to learn whether or not they did.

Genesis 44:7 And they said unto him, Wherefore saith my lord these words? God forbid that thy servants should do according to this thing:

They asked, “Why are you accusing us? We would never do such a thing!”

Genesis 44:8-9 Behold, the money, which we found in our sacks’ mouths, we brought again unto thee out of the land of Canaan: how then should we steal out of thy lord’s house silver or gold? (9) With whomsoever of thy servants it be found, both let him die, and we also will be my lord’s bondmen.

They reminded him that they had brought back the money from their last trip and were willing to pay it, so why should they want to steal from Joseph? They so were certain that the steward was mistaken that they made a foolish oath to serve him if the money was found in the possession of any one of them. They also said that the steward could kill the one found with the money. This, of course, was in the design of the test.

Genesis 44:10 And he said, Now also let it be according unto your words: he with whom it is found shall be my servant; and ye shall be blameless.

The steward altered the contract by telling them that the only one who would be blamed was the one found with the loot. If the steward found the loot in any person’s possession, that person would become his slave.

Genesis 44:11-12 Then they speedily took down every man his sack to the ground, and opened every man his sack. (12) And he searched, and began at the eldest, and left at the youngest: and the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack.

They readily agreed because they knew with certainty that no one had stolen from Joseph. This cup was the exact cup Benjamin had drunk from at the noon meal. This would naturally make the brethren suspicious that Benjamin had indeed stolen the cup.

Genesis 44:13 Then they rent their clothes, and laded every man his ass, and returned to the city.

What a shock! Tearing the clothing was a sign of displeasure, distress, and sorrow. They were certainly displeased with the circumstances, and in distress because of them. Their sorrow was for their father and brother, for now Benjamin would be kept in Egypt, or so they thought.

Was this cruel trickery on the part of Joseph? Some may think so. No, Joseph was blessed with much wisdom that had been honed by his time in power at the right hand of Pharaoh. This was not trickery, but a final test to see if they really had repented of their deeds with Joseph years earlier, and to find out if they would treat his full brother with the contempt they had shown for him. It was important that Joseph know this before he sent for the rest of the family.

Genesis 44:14-15 And Judah and his brethren came to Joseph’s house; for he was yet there: and they fell before him on the ground. (15) And Joseph said unto them, What deed is this that ye have done? know ye not that such a man as I can certainly divine?

Joseph was waiting for them. He treated them sternly through an interpreter and led them to believe he had divined what was going on, even though Joseph actually set this up in the first place. They did not know that.

Genesis 44:16 And Judah said, What shall we say unto my lord? what shall we speak? or how shall we clear ourselves? God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants: behold, we are my lord’s servants, both we, and he also with whom the cup is found.

Judah, knowing they had been caught red-handed, exclaimed, “What can I say? We are guilty and cannot prove our innocence.” Note that he said that God had found out their iniquity. What iniquity? Although Benjamin may have stolen he cup in their estimation, the remaining brethren had done nothing wrong here. Judah was admitting to Joseph that God had found out the iniquity they had committed when they sold Joseph into slavery.

And, of course this is the fulfillment of Joseph’s dreams in Genesis 37:5-11. His brothers now make obeisance to Joseph. Judah admitted that they were his servants and they had all had fallen on the ground before him in Gen 44:14 above.

Genesis 44:17 And he said, God forbid that I should do so: but the man in whose hand the cup is found, he shall be my servant; and as for you, get you up in peace unto your father.

Here was the crux of the test. Joseph would take Benjamin as his slave and the brothers would be scot-free and could leave and return to Canaan without blemish upon them. They could be rid of all suspicion and return freely without a care to their father in Canaan. This is what unscrupulous people would do. The test was to see what they would actually do under these circumstances. Would they accept the deal and leave Benjamin behind as a slave in Egypt as they had done to Joseph, thus killing their father, or would they do the right thing? By the outcome of this test, Joseph would know how to proceed toward his brethren.

Genesis 44:18 Then Judah came near unto him, and said, Oh my lord, let thy servant, I pray thee, speak a word in my lord’s ears, and let not thine anger burn against thy servant: for thou art even as Pharaoh.

Judah boldly approached the man with the power to do anything he wished with them. He had to pluck up his courage for Joseph had the same power as Pharaoh, which was the power of life or death over everyone in Egypt.

Genesis 44:19-34 My lord asked his servants, saying, Have ye a father, or a brother? (20) And we said unto my lord, We have a father, an old man, and a child of his old age, a little one; and his brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother, and his father loveth him. (21) And thou saidst unto thy servants, Bring him down unto me, that I may set mine eyes upon him. (22) And we said unto my lord, The lad cannot leave his father: for if he should leave his father, his father would die. (23) And thou saidst unto thy servants, Except your youngest brother come down with you, ye shall see my face no more. (24) And it came to pass when we came up unto thy servant my father, we told him the words of my lord. (25) And our father said, Go again, and buy us a little food. (26) And we said, We cannot go down: if our youngest brother be with us, then will we go down: for we may not see the man’s face, except our youngest brother be with us. (27) And thy servant my father said unto us, Ye know that my wife bore me two sons: (28) And the one went out from me, and I said, Surely he is torn in pieces; and I saw him not since: (29) And if ye take this also from me, and mischief befall him, ye shall bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave. (30) Now therefore when I come to thy servant my father, and the lad be not with us; seeing that his life is bound up in the lad’s life; (31) It shall come to pass, when he seeth that the lad is not with us, that he will die: and thy servants shall bring down the gray hairs of thy servant our father with sorrow to the grave. (32) For thy servant became surety for the lad unto my father, saying, If I bring him not unto thee, then I shall bear the blame to my father forever. (33) Now therefore, I pray thee, let thy servant abide instead of the lad a bondman to my lord; and let the lad go up with his brethren. (34) For how shall I go up to my father, and the lad be not with me? lest peradventure I see the evil that shall come on my father.

Here Judah recounts all that happened when they returned from Egypt on their last visit, including what Joseph had demanded of them. Joseph was unaware of these events, though he may have suspected what went through Jacob’s mind when the brethren told him they would have to take Benjamin with them on the next trip. Judah makes him fully aware of all that had occurred. Then Judah asked Joseph to let him be the slave and to let Benjamin go home for the sake of Jacob. In this request, Judah proved to Joseph that he had indeed repented and was willing to give up his own life, desires, plans, and freedom for another person. All the brethren were, and this had the full concurrence of his brothers. They were all of one mind with Judah. This struck Joseph to the quick as we shall see in the next chapter.

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