Joseph’s Silver Cup
1When his brothers were ready to leave, Joseph gave these instructions to his palace manager: “Fill each of their sacks with as much grain as they can carry, and put each man’s money back into his sack. 2Then put my personal silver cup at the top of the youngest brother’s sack, along with the money for his grain.” So the manager did as Joseph instructed him.
3The brothers were up at dawn and were sent on their journey with their loaded donkeys. 4But when they had gone only a short distance and were barely out of the city, Joseph said to his palace manager, “Chase after them and stop them. When you catch up with them, ask them, ‘Why have you repaid my kindness with such evil? 5Why have you stolen my master’s silver cup,#44:5 As in Greek version; Hebrew lacks this phrase. which he uses to predict the future? What a wicked thing you have done!’”
6When the palace manager caught up with the men, he spoke to them as he had been instructed.
7“What are you talking about?” the brothers responded. “We are your servants and would never do such a thing! 8Didn’t we return the money we found in our sacks? We brought it back all the way from the land of Canaan. Why would we steal silver or gold from your master’s house? 9If you find his cup with any one of us, let that man die. And all the rest of us, my lord, will be your slaves.”
10“That’s fair,” the man replied. “But only the one who stole the cup will be my slave. The rest of you may go free.”
11They all quickly took their sacks from the backs of their donkeys and opened them. 12The palace manager searched the brothers’ sacks, from the oldest to the youngest. And the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack! 13When the brothers saw this, they tore their clothing in despair. Then they loaded their donkeys again and returned to the city.
14Joseph was still in his palace when Judah and his brothers arrived, and they fell to the ground before him. 15“What have you done?” Joseph demanded. “Don’t you know that a man like me can predict the future?”
16Judah answered, “Oh, my lord, what can we say to you? How can we explain this? How can we prove our innocence? God is punishing us for our sins. My lord, we have all returned to be your slaves—all of us, not just our brother who had your cup in his sack.”
17“No,” Joseph said. “I would never do such a thing! Only the man who stole the cup will be my slave. The rest of you may go back to your father in peace.”
Judah Speaks for His Brothers
18Then Judah stepped forward and said, “Please, my lord, let your servant say just one word to you. Please, do not be angry with me, even though you are as powerful as Pharaoh himself.
19“My lord, previously you asked us, your servants, ‘Do you have a father or a brother?’ 20And we responded, ‘Yes, my lord, we have a father who is an old man, and his youngest son is a child of his old age. His full brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother’s children, and his father loves him very much.’
21“And you said to us, ‘Bring him here so I can see him with my own eyes.’ 22But we said to you, ‘My lord, the boy cannot leave his father, for his father would die.’ 23But you told us, ‘Unless your youngest brother comes with you, you will never see my face again.’
24“So we returned to your servant, our father, and told him what you had said. 25Later, when he said, ‘Go back again and buy us more food,’ 26we replied, ‘We can’t go unless you let our youngest brother go with us. We’ll never get to see the man’s face unless our youngest brother is with us.’
27“Then my father said to us, ‘As you know, my wife had two sons, 28and one of them went away and never returned. Doubtless he was torn to pieces by some wild animal. I have never seen him since. 29Now if you take his brother away from me, and any harm comes to him, you will send this grieving, white-haired man to his grave.#44:29 Hebrew to Sheol; also in 44:31.’
30“And now, my lord, I cannot go back to my father without the boy. Our father’s life is bound up in the boy’s life. 31If he sees that the boy is not with us, our father will die. We, your servants, will indeed be responsible for sending that grieving, white-haired man to his grave. 32My lord, I guaranteed to my father that I would take care of the boy. I told him, ‘If I don’t bring him back to you, I will bear the blame forever.’
33“So please, my lord, let me stay here as a slave instead of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers. 34For how can I return to my father if the boy is not with me? I couldn’t bear to see the anguish this would cause my father!”
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1 Then Joseph instructed the steward of his house, saying: "Fill their sacks with grain, as much as they are able to hold. And place each one's money at the top of the sack.
2 But place my silver bowl, and the price that he gave for the wheat, in the mouth of the sack of the youngest." And so it was done.
3 And when morning arose, they were sent away with their donkeys.
4 And now they had departed from the city and had set out a short distance. Then Joseph, sending for the steward of his house, said: "Rise up and pursue the men. And when you have overtaken them, say: 'Why have you returned evil for good?
5 The cup that you have stolen, it is that from which my lord drinks, and in which he is accustomed to discern signs. You have done a very sinful thing.' "
6 He did as he had been ordered. And having overtaken them, he spoke to them according to the order.
7 And they responded: "Why does our lord speak in this way, as though your servants had committed such a shameful act?
8 The money, which we found at the top of our sacks, we carried back to you from the land of Canaan. So in what way does it follow that we would steal, from the house of your lord, gold or silver?
9 Whichever of your servants will be found to have what you seek, may he die, and we shall be the servants of my lord."
10 And he said to them: "Let it be according to your verdict. With whomever it will be found, let him be my servant, but you will be unharmed."
11 And so, they quickly placed their sacks down to the ground, and each one was opened.
12 And when he had searched, beginning with the oldest, all the way to the youngest, he found the cup in Benjamin's sack.
13 But they, tearing their garments and burdening their donkeys again, returned to the town.
14 And Judah, first among his brothers, entered to Joseph (for he had not yet departed from the place) and together they all fell down before him to the ground.
15 And he said to them: "Why would you choose to act in this way? Could you be ignorant that there is no one like me in the knowledge of discerning signs?"
16 And Judah said to him, "What could we answer to my lord? And what would we be able to say, or to justly claim? God has discovered the iniquity of your servants. See, we have all become servants to my lord, both we, and he with whom the cup was found."
17 Joseph responded: "Far be it from me that I should act in this way. He who stole the cup, he will be my servant. But you may go away free to your father."
18 Then Judah, approaching closer, said confidently: "I beg you, my lord, let your servant speak a word in your ears, and do not be angry with your servant. For you are next to Pharaoh.
19 My lord, you questioned your servants before: 'Do you have a father or a brother?'
20 And we answered you, my lord: 'There is our father, an old man, and a young boy, who was born in his old age. His brother of the same womb has died, and he alone is left to his mother and father, who truly love him tenderly.'
21 And you said to your servants, 'Bring him to me, and I will set my eyes on him.'
22 We suggested to my lord: 'The boy is not able to leave his father. For if he sends him away, he will die.'
23 And you said to your servants: 'Unless your youngest brother arrives with you, you will not see my face any more.'
24 Therefore, when we had gone up to your servant our father, we explained to him all that my lord had spoken.
25 And our father said: 'Return and buy us a little wheat.'
26 And we said to him: 'We cannot go. If our youngest brother descends with us, we will set out together. Otherwise, in his absence, we do not dare to see the face of the man.'
27 To which he responded: 'You know that my wife conceived twice by me.
28 One went out, and you said, "A beast devoured him." And since then, he has not appeared.
29 If you take this one also, and anything happens to him on the way, you will lead my grey hairs down with grief to the grave.'
30 Therefore, if I would have gone to your servant, our father, with the boy not present, (though his life depends upon the life of him)
31 and if he were to see that he is not with us, he would die, and your servants will lead his grey hairs down with sorrow to the grave.
32 Let me be your very own servant, for I accepted this one into my trust, and I promised, saying: 'Unless I lead him back, I will be guilty of a sin against my father for all time.'
33 And so I, your servant, will remain in place of the boy, in ministry to my lord, and then let the boy go up with his brothers.
34 For I cannot return to my father without the boy, lest I appear as a witness to the calamity that will oppress my father."