Genesis 44:1-13

Joseph's Final Test

1 Then Joseph commanded his steward: "Fill the men's bags with as much food as they can carry, and put each one's money at the top of his bag.
2 Put my cup, the silver one, at the top of the youngest one's bag, along with his grain money." So he did as Joseph told him.
3 At morning light, the men were sent off with their donkeys.
4 They had not gone very far from the city when Joseph said to his steward, "Get up. Pursue the men, and when you overtake them, say to them, 'Why have you repaid evil for good?[a]
5 Isn't this the cup that my master drinks from and uses for divination? What you have done is wrong!' "
6 When he overtook them, he said these words to them.
7 They said to him, "Why does my lord say these things? Your servants could not possibly do such a thing.
8 We even brought back to you from the land of Canaan the money we found at the top of our bags. How could we steal gold and silver from your master's house?
9 If any of us is[b] found to have it, he must die, and we also will become my lord's slaves."
10 The steward replied, "What you have said is proper, but only the one who is found to have it will be my slave, and the rest of you will be blameless."
11 So each one quickly lowered his sack to the ground and opened it.
12 The steward searched, beginning with the oldest and ending with the youngest, and the cup was found in Benjamin's sack.
13 Then they tore their clothes, and each one loaded his donkey and returned to the city.

Genesis 44:1-13 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO GENESIS 44

This chapter relates the policy of Joseph in making an experiment of his brethren's regard and affection for Benjamin; he ordered his steward to put every man's money into his sack, and his silver cup in Benjamin's, and when they were got out of the city, to follow after them, and charge them with the theft, as he did; and having searched their sacks, as they desired he would, found the cup with Benjamin, which threw them into the utmost distress, and obliged them to return to Joseph, Ge 44:1-14; who charged them with their ill behaviour towards him; they acknowledge it, and propose to be his servants; but he orders them to depart to their father, retaining Benjamin in servitude, Ge 44:15-17; upon which Judah addressed him in a very polite and affectionate manner, and relates the whole story, both of what passed between Joseph and them, concerning Benjamin, the first time they were in Egypt, and between their father and them upon the same subject, when he directed them to go a second time thither to buy corn, and how he became a surety to his father for him, and therefore proposed to be his bondman now, not being able to see his father's face without Benjamin, Ge 44:18-34.

Genesis 44:1-13 In-Context

1 Then Joseph commanded his steward: "Fill the men's bags with as much food as they can carry, and put each one's money at the top of his bag.
2 Put my cup, the silver one, at the top of the youngest one's bag, along with his grain money." So he did as Joseph told him.
3 At morning light, the men were sent off with their donkeys.
4 They had not gone very far from the city when Joseph said to his steward, "Get up. Pursue the men, and when you overtake them, say to them, 'Why have you repaid evil for good?
5 Isn't this the cup that my master drinks from and uses for divination? What you have done is wrong!' "
6 When he overtook them, he said these words to them.
7 They said to him, "Why does my lord say these things? Your servants could not possibly do such a thing.
8 We even brought back to you from the land of Canaan the money we found at the top of our bags. How could we steal gold and silver from your master's house?
9 If any of us is found to have it, he must die, and we also will become my lord's slaves."
10 The steward replied, "What you have said is proper, but only the one who is found to have it will be my slave, and the rest of you will be blameless."
11 So each one quickly lowered his sack to the ground and opened it.
12 The steward searched, beginning with the oldest and ending with the youngest, and the cup was found in Benjamin's sack.
13 Then they tore their clothes, and each one loaded his donkey and returned to the city.
14 When Judah and his brothers reached Joseph's house, he was still there. They fell to the ground before him.
15 "What is this you have done?" Joseph said to them. "Didn't you know that a man like me could uncover the truth by divination?"
16 "What can we say to my lord?" Judah replied. "How can we plead? How can we justify ourselves? God has exposed your servants' iniquity. We are now my lord's slaves-both we and the one in whose possession the cup was found."
17 Then Joseph said, "I swear that I will not do this. The man in whose possession the cup was found will be my slave. The rest of you can go in peace to your father."

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. LXX adds Why have you stolen my silver cup?
  • [b]. Lit If your servants are