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Genesis 44

44
A Silver Cup in a Sack
1Joseph 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. 2Then 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.
3When morning came, the men were sent on their way with their donkeys. 4They hadn’t gone very far from the city when Joseph spoke to his manager. “Go after those men right away,” he said. “Catch up with them. Say to them, ‘My master was good to you. Why have you paid him back by doing evil? 5Isn’t this the cup my master drinks from? Doesn’t he also use it to find things out? You have done an evil thing.’ ”
6When the manager caught up with them, he told them what Joseph had said. 7But they said to him, “Why do you say these things? We would never do anything like that! 8We 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? 9If you find out that any of us has the cup, he will die. And the rest of us will become your slaves.”
10“All right, then,” he said. “As you wish. The one found to have the cup will become my slave. But the rest of you will not be blamed.”
11Each of them quickly put his sack down on the ground and opened it. 12Then the manager started to search. He began with the oldest and ended with the youngest. The cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. 13When that happened, they were so upset they tore their clothes. Then all of them loaded their donkeys and went back to the city.
14Joseph was still in the house when Judah and his brothers came in. They threw themselves down on the ground in front of him. 15Joseph said to them, “What have you done? Don’t you know that a man like me has ways to find things out?”
16“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 found to have the cup.”
17But Joseph said, “I would never do anything like that! Only the man found to have the cup will become my slave. The rest of you may go back to your father in peace.”
18Then 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. 19You asked us, ‘Do you have a father or a brother?’ 20We 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.’
21“Then you said to us, ‘Bring him down to me. I want to see him for myself.’ 22We said to you, ‘The boy can’t leave his father. If he does, his father will die.’ 23But you told us, ‘Your youngest brother must come down here with you. If he doesn’t, you won’t see my face again.’ 24So we went back to my father. We told him what you had said.
25“Then our father said, ‘Go back. Buy a little more food.’ 26But 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.’
27“Your servant my father said to us, ‘You know that my wife had two sons by me. 28One of them went away from me. And I said, “He must have been torn to pieces.” I haven’t seen him since. 29What 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.’
30“So now, what will happen if the boy isn’t with us when I go back to my father? His life depends on the boy’s life. 31When he sees that the boy isn’t with us, he’ll die. Because of us, he’ll go down into the grave as a sad old man. 32I 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.’
33“Now then, please let me stay here. Let me be your slave in place of the boy. Let the boy return with his brothers. 34How can I go back to my father if the boy isn’t with me? No! Don’t let me see the pain and suffering that would come to my father.”

Genesis 44

44
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.”