Genesis 44

1 Then he commanded the steward of his house, "Fill the men's sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put each man's money in the top of his sack.
2 Put my cup, the silver cup, in the top of the sack of the youngest, with his money for the grain." And he did as Joseph told him.
3 As soon as the morning was light, the men were sent away with their donkeys.
4 When they had gone only a short distance from the city, Joseph said to his steward, "Go, follow after the men; and when you overtake them, say to them, "Why have you returned evil for good? Why have you stolen my silver cup?
5 Is it not from this that my lord drinks? Does he not indeed use it for divination? You have done wrong in doing this.' "
6 When he overtook them, he repeated these words to them.
7 They said to him, "Why does my lord speak such words as these? Far be it from your servants that they should do such a thing!
8 Look, the money that we found at the top of our sacks, we brought back to you from the land of Canaan; why then would we steal silver or gold from your lord's house?
9 Should it be found with any one of your servants, let him die; moreover the rest of us will become my lord's slaves."
10 He said, "Even so; in accordance with your words, let it be: he with whom it is found shall become my slave, but the rest of you shall go free."
11 Then each one quickly lowered his sack to the ground, and each opened his sack.
12 He searched, beginning with the eldest and ending with the youngest; and the cup was found in Benjamin's sack.
13 At this they tore their clothes. Then each one loaded his donkey, and they returned to the city.
14 Judah and his brothers came to Joseph's house while he was still there; and they fell to the ground before him.
15 Joseph said to them, "What deed is this that you have done? Do you not know that one such as I can practice divination?"
16 And Judah said, "What can we say to my lord? What can we speak? How can we clear ourselves? God has found out the guilt of your servants; here we are then, my lord's slaves, both we and also the one in whose possession the cup has been found."
17 But he said, "Far be it from me that I should do so! Only the one in whose possession the cup was found shall be my slave; but as for you, go up in peace to your father."
18 Then Judah stepped up to him and said, "O my lord, let your servant please speak a word in my lord's ears, and do not be angry with your servant; for you are like Pharaoh himself.
19 My lord asked his servants, saying, "Have you a father or a brother?'
20 And we said to my lord, "We have a father, an old man, and a young brother, the child of his old age. His brother is dead; he alone is left of his mother's children, and his father loves him.'
21 Then you said to your servants, "Bring him down to me, so that I may set my eyes on him.'
22 We said to my lord, "The boy cannot leave his father, for if he should leave his father, his father would die.'
23 Then you said to your servants, "Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you shall see my face no more.'
24 When we went back to your servant my father we told him the words of my lord.
25 And when our father said, "Go again, buy us a little food,'
26 we said, "We cannot go down. Only if our youngest brother goes with us, will we go down; for we cannot see the man's face unless our youngest brother is with us.'
27 Then your servant my father said to us, "You know that my wife bore me two sons;
28 one left me, and I said, Surely he has been torn to pieces; and I have never seen him since.
29 If you take this one also from me, and harm comes to him, you will bring down my gray hairs in sorrow to Sheol.'
30 Now therefore, when I come to your servant my father and the boy is not with us, then, as his life is bound up in the boy's life,
31 when he sees that the boy is not with us, he will die; and your servants will bring down the gray hairs of your servant our father with sorrow to Sheol.
32 For your servant became surety for the boy to my father, saying, "If I do not bring him back to you, then I will bear the blame in the sight of my father all my life.'
33 Now therefore, please let your servant remain as a slave to my lord in place of the boy; and let the boy go back with his brothers.
34 For how can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? I fear to see the suffering that would come upon my father."

Genesis 44 Commentary

Chapter 44

Joseph's policy to stay his brethren, and try their affection for Benjamin. (1-17) Judah's supplication to Joseph. (18-34)

Verses 1-17 Joseph tried how his brethren felt towards Benjamin. Had they envied and hated the other son of Rachel as they had hated him, and if they had the same want of feeling towards their father Jacob as heretofore, they would now have shown it. When the cup was found upon Benjamin, they would have a pretext for leaving him to be a slave. But we cannot judge what men are now, by what they have been formerly; nor what they will do, by what they have done. The steward charged them with being ungrateful, rewarding evil for good; with folly, in taking away the cup of daily use, which would soon be missed, and diligent search made for it; for so it may be read, Is not this it in which my lord drinketh, as having a particular fondness for it, and for which he would search thoroughly? Or, By which, leaving it carelessly at your table, he would make trial whether you were honest men or not? They throw themselves upon Joseph's mercy, and acknowledge the righteousness of God, perhaps thinking of the injury they had formerly done to Joseph, for which they thought God was now reckoning with them. Even in afflictions wherein we believe ourselves wronged by men, we must own that God is righteous, and finds out our sin.

Verses 18-34 Had Joseph been, as Judah supposed him, an utter stranger to the family, he could not but be wrought upon by his powerful reasonings. But neither Jacob nor Benjamin need an intercessor with Joseph; for he himself loved them. Judah's faithful cleaving to Benjamin, now, in his distress, was recompensed long afterwards by the tribe of Benjamin keeping with the tribe of Judah, when the other tribes deserted it. The apostle, when discoursing of the mediation of Christ, observes, that our Lord sprang out of Judah, ( Hebrews 7:14 ) ; and he not only made intercession for the transgressors, but he became a Surety for them, testifying therein tender concern, both for his Father and for his brethren. Jesus, the great antitype of Joseph, humbles and proves his people, even after they have had some tastes of his loving-kindness. He brings their sins to their remembrance, that they may exercise and show repentance, and feel how much they owe to his mercy.

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Gk Compare Vg: Heb lacks [Why have you stolen my silver cup?]

Chapter Summary

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 Commentaries