Joseph Tests His Brothers
1Joseph ordered his chief servant, “Fill the men’s sacks with grain, with as much as they can hold, and put each one’s money back in the mouth of his bag. 2As for the youngest one, place my silver goblet in the mouth of his sack, along with the money he paid for his grain.” And he did as Joseph said.
3At dawn, the men loaded their donkeys and set off for home. 4They hadn’t gone far outside of the city when Joseph said to his chief servant, “Now, go at once and pursue the men! And when you catch up to them, say to them, ‘Why did you repay good with evil? 5Why have you stolen the silver goblet # 44:5 As translated from the Septuagint and Vulgate and implied in the Hebrew. from which my master drinks, and the one he uses to discover secrets hidden from men? # 44:5 Or “for divination.” Some historians tell that water was poured into a certain vessel, and then pieces of gold, silver, or precious stones were added, and then, by the shape of the designs that appeared at the surface of the water, the diviner could interpret events. Joseph did not say that he used the goblet for divination but wanted his brothers to think he did. You have done an evil thing!’ ”
6When the chief servant caught up with them, he repeated his master’s words to them. 7They answered him, “Why does my lord accuse us of such things? Far be it from your servants to do anything of the kind! 8Didn’t we return from Canaan with the money we found in our grain sacks? Why then would we steal silver or gold from the house of your lord? 9Look for yourself. If any of your servants is found to have it, then he will die, and the rest of us will become your master’s slaves!”
10“Very well then,” Joseph’s servant replied, “as you have said. But I will show you leniency. The one who has it will be my slave, but the rest of you will go free.”
11Each one quickly lowered his bag to the ground and opened it. 12Then the chief servant searched each bag, beginning with oldest and ending with the youngest—and he found the silver goblet in Benjamin’s bag! # 44:12 They had not stolen Joseph’s silver goblet, but they had stolen Joseph’s dignity and threw him into a pit. They were responsible for all of Joseph’s afflictions. God was seeking to reveal their hearts through how they endured this false accusation. Joseph’s silver goblet, hidden in Benjamin’s bag, was a picture of the years of suffering Joseph went through as a slave sold for “silver.” Joseph was testing their loyalty. Would they stand with Benjamin and love him, or would they sacrifice Benjamin as they had Joseph? Would they be loyal brothers now? Joseph gave them a chance to do away with Benjamin as they had done away with him. 13Aghast, the brothers ripped their clothes in despair. They all loaded their donkeys again and returned to the city.
14Joseph was waiting in his house when Judah and his brothers arrived. When they saw Joseph, they all fell to the ground before him. # 44:14 For the third time, Joseph’s brothers bowed before him. What a sight for Joseph to see them all return. He had to know if they had really changed. Joseph was truly doing them a kindness. He was giving them a chance to pass a test they once had failed! Their guilt could be removed not only by the mercy of Joseph but also by proving their “repentance by a changed life” (Matt. 3:8). 15Joseph said to them, “What have you done? Don’t you know that divination would have given insight to a man like me?”
16Judah replied, “What can we say, my lord? How can we plead our case? How can we prove our innocence? God has revealed the guilt of your servants, # 44:16 Their long-suppressed feelings of guilt surfaced. God was awakening their consciences to what they had done to Joseph. and here we are—our lord’s slaves, both we and the one in whose sack the silver goblet was found.”
17“No,” Joseph commanded. “Only the one who stole my silver goblet will be my slave; the rest of you will go on home in peace to your father.”
Judah Pleads for Benjamin
18Then Judah stepped forward and offered, “My lord, please, may I have a word with you? You are the equal of Pharaoh. Please don’t be angry with me, your servant. 19My lord asked his servants, ‘Do you have a father or another brother?’ 20We answered my lord, ‘We have an aged father and our youngest brother, who is a child of his old age. The child’s full brother is dead, so now he is the only child left of his mother, and his father loves him very much.’ 21Then you said to your servants, ‘Bring him here to me so that I might see him myself.’ 22We said to my lord, ‘But he cannot leave his father; if he were to leave him, his father would die.’ 23Then you said to your servants, ‘You will not see my face again if I do not see your youngest brother.’ 24When we arrived home to your servant, my father, we told him every word you had spoken to us.
25“Sometime later, our father said to us, ‘Go back and buy some more food for us.’ 26We answered, ‘We can only return to Egypt if we take our youngest brother with us. We won’t see the man’s face again, if he doesn’t see our youngest brother.’ 27Then, your servant, my father, said to us, ‘You know that my wife Rachel only gave me two sons. 28One is gone from me—torn by a beast! I haven’t seen him since. 29If you take this one also from me, and something happens to him, you will send my gray hairs in grief down to the grave.’ ”
30-31Judah continued, “My lord, if I went to your servant, my father, without the boy, and he saw that the boy was not with us, he would die! His very life is wrapped up with the life of the boy. # 44:30–31 As father and son, the souls of Jacob and Benjamin were bound together in the bundle of life. Now he is so old that the grief of his loss would kill him. 32Furthermore, I, your servant, have guaranteed the boy’s safety to my father. I told him, ‘If I don’t return the boy back to you, I will bear the blame before you, my father, for the rest of my life!’
33-34“So, please let me take the place of the boy, and I will remain here as a slave to you, my lord. Please let the boy go back with his brothers. # 44:33–34 As Judah spoke for his brothers, he did not attempt to justify himself or pass the blame off onto Benjamin. Unlike in the past, they did not turn on Benjamin as they had turned on Joseph. Judah stood as a savior for his brother. He had changed greatly from the one who conspired to sell his brother into slavery (see Gen. 37:26–27) and now offered himself to be a slave as a substitute for his brother Benjamin. Jewish historians note that for many long years after this event, the tribe of Benjamin walked in faithful love toward the tribe of Judah even when the other ten tribes deserted them. How could I return to my father without the boy? I don’t want to witness the woe and grief that would overtake my father.”
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