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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
1Joseph ordered his household supervisor, “Fill the men's sacks with as much grain as they can hold and put each man's money at the top of his sack. 2Then put my special silver cup at the top of the sack of the youngest, along with the money for his grain.” He did as Joseph told him. 3At sunrise they were sent on their way with their donkeys. 4They had hardly left the city when Joseph told his household supervisor, “Go after those men, and when you catch up with them, ask them, ‘Why have you paid back good with evil by stealing my master's silver cup?#44:4. “By stealing my master's silver cup”: Septuagint addition, used for clarity. 5This is the cup he personally drinks from, and which he uses for divination.#44:5. “Divination”: a way of discovering secrets or hidden knowledge. Sometimes this is close to magic, but, in this case, it may be that Joseph is using a common superstition to cover up his plan. What you've done is really evil!’”
6When he caught up with them, he told them what Joseph had said.
7“My lord, what are you saying?” they replied. “We your servants wouldn't do anything like that! 8Remember that we brought back the money we found at the top of our sacks when we returned from Canaan. Why would we steal silver or gold from your master's house? 9If any one of us is found with it, he shall die, and all of us will become your slaves.”
10“Whatever you say,” the man replied, “but only the one found with it will become my slave since the rest of you will be free of any blame.” 11They all unloaded their sacks and put them on the ground. They each opened their own sacks. 12The household supervisor searched the sacks, beginning with the oldest and working his way down to the youngest. The cup was found in Benjamin's sack. 13The brothers tore their clothes in grief. Then they loaded their sacks back on their donkeys and headed back to the city.
14Joseph was still at home when Judah and his brothers arrived, and they fell to the ground before him. 15“Why did you do this?” Joseph asked. “Don't you know a man like me can find out things through divination?”
16“My lord, what can we say?” Judah replied. “How can we explain this to you? In what way can we prove our innocence? God has exposed the guilt of your servants. My lord, we are your slaves—all of us, including the one who was found with the cup.”
17“I wouldn't do anything like that!” Joseph replied. “Only the man who was found with the cup will become my slave. The rest of you are free to return to your father.”
18Judah came closer and said to him, “If you please, my lord, let your servant just say a word. Please don't become angry with your servant, even though you are as powerful as Pharaoh himself. 19My lord, previously you asked us, ‘Do you have a father or a brother?’ 20We told you, my lord, ‘We have an elderly father, and a younger brother, born when our father was already old. The boy's brother is dead. He is the only one of his mother's children left, and his father loves him dearly.’
21Then you ordered us, ‘Bring him here to me so I can see him.’ 22We told you, ‘The boy can't leave his father; if he did, his father would die.’ 23But you told us, ‘If your youngest brother doesn't come with you, you won't see me again.’
24So when we went back to your servant, our father, we explained to him everything you had told us. 25However, later on, our father told us, ‘Go back and buy some more food.’ 26But we said, ‘There's no way we can go back unless Benjamin our youngest brother goes with us, because we won't be able to see the man if Benjamin isn't with us.’
27Then my father said to us, ‘You realize that my wife#44:27. “My wife”: referring to Rachel. Evidently Jacob considered her as his one true wife. had two sons for me. 28One is no more, ripped to pieces no doubt,#44:28. See 37:33. for I've never seen him since. 29If you take this one away from me too, and something bad happens to him, you'll send this old man to his grave in grief.’
30So if the boy isn't with us when I go back to my father, whose life depends on the life of the boy, 31as soon as he sees the boy isn't there he'll die, and we will really send this old man, our father, to his grave in grief. 32In fact I gave myself as the guarantee for the boy to my father. I told him, ‘If I don't bring him back to you, then I will always carry the blame!’
33So please let me stay here as my lord's slave instead of the boy. Let him go back home with his brothers. 34For how could I ever go back to my father if the boy wasn't with me? I couldn't stand seeing the anguish that would cause my father.”