Final Test.#Joseph’s pressure on his brothers and Judah’s great speech. Judah has the longest speech in the Book of Genesis; it summarizes the recent past (vv. 18–29), shows the pain Joseph’s actions have imposed on their aged father (vv. 30–32), and ends with the offer to take the place of Benjamin as servant of Joseph (vv. 33–34). The role of Judah in the entire story is exceedingly important and is easily underrated: he tries to rescue Joseph (37:26–27), his “going down away from the brothers” is parallel to Joseph’s (chap. 38) and prepares him (as it prepares Joseph) for the reconciliation, his speech in chap. 44 persuades Joseph to reveal himself and be reconciled to his brothers. Here, Judah effectively replaces Reuben as a spokesman for the brothers. Jacob in his testament (chap. 49) devotes the most attention to Judah and Joseph. In one sense, the story can be called the story of Joseph and Judah. 1Then Joseph commanded his steward: “Fill the men’s bags with as much food as they can carry, and put each man’s money in the mouth of his bag. 2In the mouth of the youngest one’s bag put also my silver goblet, together with the money for his grain.” The steward did as Joseph said. 3At daybreak the men and their donkeys were sent off. 4They had not gone far out of the city when Joseph said to his steward: “Go at once after the men! When you overtake them, say to them, ‘Why did you repay good with evil? Why did you steal my silver goblet? 5Is it not the very one from which my master drinks and which he uses for divination?#Divination: seeking omens through liquids poured into a cup or bowl was a common practice in the ancient Near East; cf. v. 15. Even though divination was frowned on in later Israel (Lv 19:31), it is in this place an authentic touch which is ascribed to Joseph, the wisest man in Egypt. What you have done is wrong.’”
6When the steward overtook them and repeated these words to them, 7they said to him: “Why does my lord say such things? Far be it from your servants to do such a thing! 8We even brought back to you from the land of Canaan the money that we found in the mouths of our bags. How could we steal silver or gold from your master’s house? 9If any of your servants is found to have the goblet, he shall die, and as for the rest of us, we shall become my lord’s slaves.” 10But he replied, “Now what you propose is fair enough, but only the one who is found to have it shall become my slave, and the rest of you can go free.” 11Then each of them quickly lowered his bag to the ground and opened it; 12and when a search was made, starting with the oldest and ending with the youngest, the goblet turned up in Benjamin’s bag. 13At this, they tore their garments. Then, when each man had loaded his donkey again, they returned to the city.
14When Judah and his brothers entered Joseph’s house, he was still there; so they flung themselves on the ground before him. 15“How could you do such a thing?” Joseph asked them. “Did you not know that such a man as I could discern by divination what happened?” 16Judah replied: “What can we say to my lord? How can we plead or how try to prove our innocence? God has uncovered your servants’ guilt.#Guilt: in trying to do away with Joseph when he was young. Here we are, then, the slaves of my lord—the rest of us no less than the one in whose possession the goblet was found.” 17Joseph said, “Far be it from me to act thus! Only the one in whose possession the goblet was found shall become my slave; the rest of you may go back unharmed to your father.”
18Judah then stepped up to him and said: “I beg you, my lord, let your servant appeal to my lord, and do not become angry with your servant, for you are the equal of Pharaoh. 19My lord asked his servants,#My lord asked his servants: such frequently repeated expressions in Judah’s speech show the formal court style used by a subject in speaking to a high official. ‘Have you a father, or another brother?’ 20So we said to my lord, ‘We have an aged father, and a younger brother, the child of his old age. This one’s full brother is dead, and since he is the only one by his mother who is left, his father is devoted to him.’#Gn 42:13. 21Then you told your servants, ‘Bring him down to me that I might see him.’ 22We replied to my lord, ‘The boy cannot leave his father; his father would die if he left him.’ 23But you told your servants, ‘Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you shall not see me again.’#Gn 43:3. 24When we returned to your servant my father, we reported to him the words of my lord.
25“Later, our father said, ‘Go back and buy some food for us.’ 26So we reminded him, ‘We cannot go down there; only if our youngest brother is with us can we go, for we may not see the man if our youngest brother is not with us.’ 27Then your servant my father said to us, ‘As you know, my wife bore me two sons. 28One of them, however, has gone away from me, and I said, “He must have been torn to pieces by wild beasts!” I have not seen him since.#Gn 37:20, 33. 29If you take this one away from me too, and a disaster befalls him, you will send my white head down to Sheol in grief.’
30“So now, if the boy is not with us when I go back to your servant my father, whose very life is bound up with his, he will die as soon as he sees that the boy is missing; 31and your servants will thus send the white head of your servant our father down to Sheol in grief. 32Besides, I, your servant, have guaranteed the boy’s safety for my father by saying, ‘If I fail to bring him back to you, father, I will bear the blame before you forever.’#Gn 43:9. 33So now let me, your servant, remain in place of the boy as the slave of my lord, and let the boy go back with his brothers. 34How could I go back to my father if the boy were not with me? I could not bear to see the anguish that would overcome my father.”
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Joseph tests his brothers
1Joseph told the servant who took care of his house, ‘Fill the men's bags. Give them as much food as their animals can carry. Put each man's money back in the top of his bag. 2Then take my silver cup and put it in the top of the youngest man's bag. Put it with the money that he brought to pay for his food.’ The servant did what Joseph had told him to do. 3When morning came, the men started their journey with their donkeys. 4They had travelled only a short way from the city. Then Joseph said to his servant, ‘Go now and follow those men. When you find them, say to them, “My master was kind to you. So why have you done this bad thing against us? 5You have taken my master's own special cup. It is the cup that he drinks from. He also uses it to find out about future things. You have done a very bad thing!” ’
6So Joseph's servant followed the men and he reached them. He told them Joseph's message. 7But the brothers said to him, ‘Sir, why do you say these things? We are your servants. We would not do anything like that! 8When we found the money in our bags last time, we brought it back to you from Canaan. So we would never take valuable silver or gold things from your master's house. 9If any one of us has this silver cup, he must die. We others will become your slaves, sir.’ 10The servant said, ‘What you say is fair. Whoever has the cup, will become my slave. The rest of you will go free.’
11Each of the brothers quickly put his bag on the ground and opened it. 12Then the servant began to look in the bags. He began with the oldest brother's bag and he finished with the youngest brother's bag. Then he found the cup in Benjamin's bag! 13When this happened, all the brothers were very upset. They tore their clothes. Then they put their bags back on their donkeys. They returned to the city.
14Joseph was still in his house when Judah and his brothers arrived. They threw themselves on the ground in front of Joseph. 15Joseph said, ‘Why have you done this bad thing? You should have known about an important man like me. I can use magic to find out what people do.’ 16Judah said, ‘We do not know what to say to you, my lord. We cannot say that we did not do this. God has shown that we are guilty of this sin. Now we are your slaves. We are all your slaves, as well as the one who had your cup in his bag.’
17But Joseph said, ‘I would not do a thing like that! Only the man who had the cup will be my slave. The rest of you can return to your father. You may go as my friends.’
18Then Judah went and he spoke to Joseph. He said, ‘Please, my lord. Let me speak to you. You have all of Pharaoh's authority, but please do not be angry with me, your servant. 19You asked us, “Do you have a father or another brother?” 20And we replied, “We have a father who is very old. He has a young son who was born when our father was already old. That son's brother is dead. He is the only son of his mother who still lives. His father loves him.” 21Then you said, “Bring your youngest brother to me so that I can see him.” 22And we said, “The boy cannot leave his father. If he leaves him, his father will die.” 23But you said to us, “Your youngest brother must come with you. If he does not come, I will not let you see me again.” 24We returned to our father and we told him what you said. 25After some time, our father said, “Go back to Egypt and buy some more food for us.” 26But we said, “We cannot go back there. We can only go if our youngest brother goes with us. If he is not with us, we will not be able to see the man again.” 27Then my father said to us, “My wife gave birth to two sons. 28One of them went away and he never returned. So I said, ‘A wild animal must have eaten him.’ I have not seen him since that happened. 29If you take my youngest son away from me too, something bad may happen to him. I am already an old man. If I lose Benjamin, I would be so sad that I would die.” ’
30Judah continued and he said, ‘So, my lord, I could not go back to my father without his youngest son. My father stays alive because of this boy. 31If my father sees that his son is not with us, he will die. Because we did not bring the boy back to him, he will be sad enough to die. 32I promised my father that I would take care of the boy. I said, “I will bring the boy back. If I do not, then you can say that I am guilty. I will be guilty for all of my life.” 33Please sir, let me stay here as your slave, instead of the boy. Let the boy return home with his brothers. 34I cannot go back to my father if the boy is not with me. I never want to see how upset my father would be.’ #44:34 In chapter 44, Joseph wants to see if his brothers have changed. Will they leave Benjamin in Egypt, so that they can return to Canaan? Judah shows that he has changed. He says that he will stay in Egypt, as a slave. He will stay so that Benjamin can go home to his father.
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