Genesis 44:1-17

A Silver Cup in a Sack

1 Now Joseph gave these instructions to the steward of his house: “Fill the men’s sacks with as much food as they can carry, and put each man’s silver in the mouth of his sack.
2 Then put my cup, the silver one, in the mouth of the youngest one’s sack, along with the silver for his grain.” And he did as Joseph said.
3 As morning dawned, the men were sent on their way with their donkeys.
4 They had not gone far from the city when Joseph said to his steward, “Go after those men at once, and when you catch up with them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid good with evil?
5 Isn’t this the cup my master drinks from and also uses for divination? This is a wicked thing you have done.’ ”
6 When he caught up with them, he repeated these words to them.
7 But they said to him, “Why does my lord say such things? Far be it from your servants to do anything like that!
8 We even brought back to you from the land of Canaan the silver we found inside the mouths of our sacks. So why would we steal silver or gold from your master’s house?
9 If any of your servants is found to have it, he will die; and the rest of us will become my lord’s slaves.”
10 “Very well, then,” he said, “let it be as you say. Whoever is found to have it will become my slave; the rest of you will be free from blame.”
11 Each of them quickly lowered his sack to the ground and opened it.
12 Then the steward proceeded to search, beginning with the oldest and ending with the youngest. And the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack.
13 At this, they tore their clothes. Then they all loaded their donkeys and returned to the city.
14 Joseph was still in the house when Judah and his brothers came in, and they threw themselves to the ground before him.
15 Joseph said to them, “What is this you have done? Don’t you know that a man like me can find things out by divination?”
16 “What can we say to my lord?” Judah replied. “What can we say? How can we prove our innocence? God has uncovered your servants’ guilt. We are now my lord’s slaves—we ourselves and the one who was found to have the cup.”
17 But Joseph said, “Far be it from me to do such a thing! Only the man who was found to have the cup will become my slave. The rest of you, go back to your father in peace.”

Genesis 44:1-17 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 44:1-17 In-Context

1 Now Joseph gave these instructions to the steward of his house: “Fill the men’s sacks with as much food as they can carry, and put each man’s silver in the mouth of his sack.
2 Then put my cup, the silver one, in the mouth of the youngest one’s sack, along with the silver for his grain.” And he did as Joseph said.
3 As morning dawned, the men were sent on their way with their donkeys.
4 They had not gone far from the city when Joseph said to his steward, “Go after those men at once, and when you catch up with them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid good with evil?
5 Isn’t this the cup my master drinks from and also uses for divination? This is a wicked thing you have done.’ ”
6 When he caught up with them, he repeated these words to them.
7 But they said to him, “Why does my lord say such things? Far be it from your servants to do anything like that!
8 We even brought back to you from the land of Canaan the silver we found inside the mouths of our sacks. So why would we steal silver or gold from your master’s house?
9 If any of your servants is found to have it, he will die; and the rest of us will become my lord’s slaves.”
10 “Very well, then,” he said, “let it be as you say. Whoever is found to have it will become my slave; the rest of you will be free from blame.”
11 Each of them quickly lowered his sack to the ground and opened it.
12 Then the steward proceeded to search, beginning with the oldest and ending with the youngest. And the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack.
13 At this, they tore their clothes. Then they all loaded their donkeys and returned to the city.
14 Joseph was still in the house when Judah and his brothers came in, and they threw themselves to the ground before him.
15 Joseph said to them, “What is this you have done? Don’t you know that a man like me can find things out by divination?”
16 “What can we say to my lord?” Judah replied. “What can we say? How can we prove our innocence? God has uncovered your servants’ guilt. We are now my lord’s slaves—we ourselves and the one who was found to have the cup.”
17 But Joseph said, “Far be it from me to do such a thing! Only the man who was found to have the cup will become my slave. The rest of you, go back to your father in peace.”
18 Then Judah went up to him and said: “Pardon your servant, my lord, let me speak a word to my lord. Do not be angry with your servant, though you are equal to Pharaoh himself.
19 My lord asked his servants, ‘Do you have a father or a brother?’
20 And we answered, ‘We have an aged father, and there is a young son born to him in his old age. His brother is dead, and he is the only one of his mother’s sons left, and his father loves him.’
21 “Then you said to your servants, ‘Bring him down to me so I can see him for myself.’

Cross References 41

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