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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.”

Genesis 44

44
Benjamin and the Silver Cup
1Then Joseph instructed his steward: “Fill the men’s sacks with as much food as they can carry, and put each one’s silver in the mouth of his sack. 2Put my cup, the silver one, in the mouth of the youngest one’s sack, along with the silver for his grain.”
So the steward did as Joseph had instructed.
3At daybreak, the men were sent on their way with their donkeys. 4They had not gone far from the city when Joseph told his steward, “Pursue the men at once, and when you overtake them, ask, ‘Why have you repaid good with evil?#44:4 LXX includes Why have you stolen my silver cup? 5Is this not the cup #44:5 Hebrew Is it not this which my master drinks from and uses for divination? What you have done is wicked!’”
6When the steward overtook them, he relayed these words to them.
7“Why does my lord say these things?” they asked. “Your servants could not possibly do such a thing. 8We even brought back to you from the land of Canaan the silver we found in the mouths of our sacks. Why would we steal silver or gold from your master’s house? 9If any of your servants is found to have it, he must die, and the rest will become slaves of my lord.”
10“As you say,” replied the steward. “But only the one who is found with the cup will be my slave, and the rest of you shall be free of blame.”
11So each one quickly lowered his sack to the ground and opened it. 12The steward searched, beginning with the oldest and ending with the youngest—and the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. 13Then they all tore their clothes, loaded their donkeys, and returned to the city.
14When Judah and his brothers arrived at Joseph’s house, he was still there, and they fell to the ground before him.
15“What is this deed you have done?” Joseph declared. “Do you not know that a man like me can surely divine the truth?”
16“What can we say to my lord?” Judah replied. “How can we plead? How can we justify ourselves? God has exposed the iniquity of your servants. We are now my lord’s slaves—both we and the one who was found with the cup.”
17But Joseph replied, “Far be it from me to do this. The man who was found with the cup will be my slave. The rest of you may return to your father in peace.”
Judah Pleads for Benjamin
18Then Judah approached Joseph and said, “Sir, please let your servant speak personally to my lord. Do not be angry with your servant, for you are equal to Pharaoh himself. 19My lord asked his servants, ‘Do you have a father or a brother?’
20And we answered, ‘We have an elderly father and a younger brother, the child of his old age. The boy’s brother is dead. He is the only one of his mother’s sons left, and his father loves him.’
21Then you told your servants, ‘Bring him down to me so that I can see him for myself.’
22So we said to my lord, ‘The boy cannot leave his father. If he were to leave, his father would die.’
23But you said to your servants, ‘Unless your younger brother comes down with you, you will not see my face again.’
24Now when we returned to your servant my father, we relayed your words to him.
25Then our father said, ‘Go back and buy us some food.’
26But we answered, ‘We cannot go down there unless our younger brother goes with us. So if our younger brother is not with us, we cannot see the man.’
27And your servant my father said to us, ‘You know that my wife bore me two sons. 28When one of them was gone, I said: “Surely he has been torn to pieces.” And I have not seen him since. 29Now if you also take this one from me and harm comes to him, you will bring my gray hair down to Sheol in sorrow.’
30So if the boy is not with us when I return to your servant, and if my father, whose life is wrapped up in the boy’s life, 31sees that the boy is not with us, he will die. Then your servants will have brought the gray hair of your servant our father down to Sheol in sorrow. 32Indeed, your servant guaranteed the boy’s safety to my father, saying, ‘If I do not return him to you, I will bear the guilt before you, my father, all my life.’
33Now please let your servant stay here as my lord’s slave in place of the boy. Let him return with his brothers. 34For how can I go back to my father without the boy? I could not bear to see the misery that would overwhelm him.”