Joseph told the manager of his house what to do. "Fill the men's sacks with as much food as they can carry," he said. "Put each man's money in his sack.
"Then put my silver cup in the youngest one's sack. Put it there along with the money he paid for his grain." So the manager did what Joseph told him to do.
When morning came, the men were sent on their way with their donkeys.
They hadn't gone very far from the city when Joseph spoke to his manager. "Go after those men at once," he said. "Catch up with them. Say to them, 'My master was good to you. Why have you paid him back by doing evil?
Isn't this the cup my master drinks from? Doesn't he also use it to figure things out? You have done an evil thing.' "
When the manager caught up with them, he told them what Joseph had said.
But they said to him, "Why do you say these things? We would never do anything like that!
We even brought back to you from Canaan the money we found in our sacks. So why would we steal silver or gold from your master's house?
"If you find out that any of us has the cup, he will die. And the rest of us will become your slaves."
"All right, then," he said. "As you wish. The one who is found to have the cup will become my slave. But the rest of you will be free from blame."
Each of them quickly put his sack down on the ground and opened it.
Then the manager started to search. He began with the oldest and ended with the youngest. The cup was found in Benjamin's sack.
When that happened, they were so upset they tore their clothes. Then all of them loaded their donkeys and went back to the city.
Joseph was still in the house when Judah and his brothers came in. They threw themselves down on the ground in front of him.
Joseph said to them, "What have you done? Don't you know that a man like me has ways to figure things out?"
"What can we say to you?" Judah replied. "What can we say? How can we prove we haven't done anything wrong? God has shown you that we are guilty. We are now your slaves. All of us are, including the one who was found to have the cup."
But Joseph said, "I would never do anything like that! Only the man who was found to have the cup will become my slave. The rest of you may go back to your father in peace."
Then Judah went up to him. He said, "Please, sir. Let me speak a word to you. Don't be angry with me, even though you are equal to Pharaoh himself.
You asked us, 'Do you have a father or a brother?'
We answered, 'We have an old father. A young son was born to him when he was old. His brother is dead. He's the only one of his mother's sons left. And his father loves him.'
"Then you said to us, 'Bring him down to me. I want to see him for myself.'
"We said to you, 'The boy can't leave his father. If he does, his father will die.'
"But you told us, 'Your youngest brother must come down here with you. If he doesn't, you won't see my face again.'
So we went back to my father. We told him what you had said.
"Then our father said, 'Go back. Buy a little more food.'
"But we said, 'We can't go down. We'll only go if our youngest brother goes there with us. We can't even see the man's face unless our youngest brother goes with us.'
"Your servant my father said to us, 'You know that my wife had two sons by me.
One of them went away from me. And I said, "He must have been torn to pieces." I haven't seen him since.
What if you take this one from me too and he is harmed? Then you would cause me to die as a sad old man. I would go down into the grave full of pain and suffering.'
"So now, what will happen if the boy isn't with us when I go back to my father? His life is closely tied up with the boy's life.
When he sees that the boy isn't with us, he'll die as a sad old man. Because of us, he'll go down into the grave full of sorrow.
"I promised my father I would keep the boy safe. I said, 'Father, I'll bring him back to you. If I don't, you can put the blame on me for the rest of my life.'
"Now then, please let me stay here. Let me be your slave in place of the boy. Let the boy return with his brothers.
How can I go back to my father if the boy isn't with me? Don't let me see the pain and suffering that would come to my father."