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Genesis 44

44
The Brothers Are Brought Back
1Then he commanded his house steward, saying, “Fill the men’s sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put each man’s money in the opening of his sack. 2And put my cup, the silver cup, in the opening of the sack of the youngest, and his money for the grain.” And he did #Or according to the wordas Joseph had told him. 3#Lit The morning was lightAs soon as it was light, the men were sent away, they with their donkeys. 4They had just left the city, and were not far away, when Joseph said to his house steward, “Up, follow the men; and when you overtake them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid evil for good? 5Is this not that from which my lord drinks, and which he indeed uses for divination? You have done wrong in doing this!’ ”
6So #I.e., the stewardhe overtook them and spoke these words to them. 7And they said to him, “Why does my lord say such words as these? Far be it from your servants to do such a thing! 8Behold, the money which we found in the opening of our sacks we have brought back to you from the land of Canaan. How then could we steal silver or gold from your lord’s house? 9With whomever of your servants it is found, he shall die, and we also shall be my lord’s slaves.” 10So he said, “Now let it indeed be according to your words; he with whom it is found shall be my slave, but the rest of you shall be considered innocent.” 11Then they hurried, each man lowered his sack to the ground, and each man opened his sack. 12And he searched, beginning with the oldest and ending with the youngest; and the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. 13Then they tore their clothes in grief, and when each man had loaded his donkey, they returned to the city.
14When Judah and his brothers came to Joseph’s house, he was still there, and they fell down to the ground before him. 15Joseph said to them, “What is this thing that you have done? Do you not know that a man who is like me can indeed practice divination?” 16So Judah said, “What can we say to my lord? What words can we speak? And how can we justify ourselves? God has found out the guilt of your servants; behold, we are my lord’s slaves, both we and the one in whose #Lit handpossession the cup has been found.” 17But he said, “Far be it from me to do this. The man in whose #Lit handpossession the cup has been found, he shall be my slave; but as for you, go up in peace to your father.”
18Then Judah approached him and said, “Oh my lord, may your servant please speak a word in my lord’s ears, and #Lit let not your anger burn againstdo not be angry with your servant; for you are equal to Pharaoh. 19My lord asked his servants, saying, ‘Have you a father or a brother?’ 20And we said to my lord, ‘We have an old father and a little boy born in our father’s old age. Now his brother is dead, so he alone is left of his mother, and his father loves him.’ 21Then you said to your servants, ‘Bring him down to me so that I may set my eyes on him.’ 22But we said to my lord, ‘The boy cannot leave his father, for if he should leave his father, #Lit he wouldhis father would die.’ 23You said to your servants, however, ‘Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you will not see my face again.’ 24So it came about when we went up to your servant my father, we told him the words of my lord. 25And our father said, ‘Go back, buy us a little food.’ 26But we said, ‘We cannot go down. If our youngest brother is with us, then we will go down; for we cannot see the man’s face unless our youngest brother is with us.’ 27Then your servant my father said to us, ‘You know that my wife bore me two sons; 28and the one left me, and I said, “Surely he is torn to pieces,” and I have not seen him since. 29If you also take this one from #Lit my faceme, and harm happens to him, you will bring my gray hair down to Sheol in #Lit evilsorrow.’ 30So now, when I come to your servant, my father, and the boy is not with us—since #Lit his soul is bound with his soulour father’s life is so attached to the boy’s life— 31when he sees that the boy is not with us, he will die. So your servants will bring the gray hair of your servant, our father, down to Sheol in sorrow. 32For your servant accepted responsibility for the boy from my father, saying, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, then #Lit I will be culpable for all the days before my fathermy father can let me take the blame forever.’ 33So now, please let your servant remain as a slave to my lord instead of the boy, and let the boy go up with his brothers. 34For how shall I go up to my father if the boy is not with me? I fear that I may see the evil that would #Lit findovertake my father.”
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.”