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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.”
44
The Brothers Are Brought Back
1And he commanded the steward of his house, saying, “Fill the men’s sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put every man’s [grain] money in the mouth of the sack. 2Put my [personal] cup, the silver cup, in the mouth of the sack of the youngest, with his grain money.” And the steward did as Joseph had told him. 3As soon as the morning was light, the men were sent away, they and their donkeys. 4When they had left the city, and were not yet far away, Joseph said to his steward, “Get up, follow after the men; and when you overtake them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid evil [to us] for good [paid to you]? 5Is this not my lord’s drinking cup and the one which he uses for divination? You have done [a great and unforgivable] wrong in doing this.’ ”
6So the steward overtook them and he said these words to them. 7They said to him, “Why does my lord speak these things? Far be it from your servants to do such a thing! 8Please remember, the money which we found in the mouths of our sacks we have brought back to you from the land of Canaan. Is it likely then that we would steal silver or gold from your master’s house? 9With whomever of your servants your master’s cup is found, let him die, and the rest of us will be my lord’s slaves.” 10And the steward said, “Now let it be as you say; he with whom the cup is found will be my slave, but the rest of you shall be blameless.” 11Then every man quickly lowered his sack to the ground and each man opened his sack [confident the cup would not be found among them]. 12The steward searched, beginning with the eldest and ending with the youngest, and the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. 13Then they tore their clothes [in grief]; and after each man had loaded his donkey again, they returned to the city.
14When Judah and his brothers came to Joseph’s house, he was still there; and they fell to the ground before him. 15Joseph spoke harshly to them, “What is this thing that you have done? Do you not realize that such a man as I can indeed practice divination and foretell [everything you do without outside knowledge of it]?” 16So Judah said, “What can we say to my lord? What can we reply? Or how can we clear ourselves, since God has exposed the sin and guilt of your servants? Behold, we are my lord’s slaves, the rest of us as well as he with whom the cup is found.” 17But Joseph said, “Far be it from me that I should do that; but the man in whose hand the cup has been found, he will be my servant; and as for [the rest of] you, get up and go in peace to your father.”
18Then Judah approached him, and said, “O my lord, please let your servant say a word to you in private, and do not let your anger blaze against your servant, for you are equal to Pharaoh [so I speak as if directly to him]. 19My lord asked his servants, saying, ‘Have you a father or a brother?’ 20We said to my lord, ‘We have an old father and a young [brother, Benjamin, the] child of his old age. Now his brother [Joseph] is dead, and he alone is left of [the two sons born of] his mother, and his father loves him.’ 21Then you said to your servants, ‘Bring him down to me that I may actually see him.’ 22But we said to my lord, ‘The #The Hebrew word for “young man” does not indicate extreme youth. Benjamin was about thirty-three years old at this time.young man cannot leave his father, for if he should leave his father, his father would die.’ 23You said to your servants, ‘Unless your youngest brother comes with you, you shall not see my face again.’ 24So when we went back to your servant my father, we told him what my lord had said. 25Our father said, ‘Go back [to Egypt], and buy us a little food.’ 26But we said, ‘We cannot go down [to Egypt]. If our youngest brother is with us, then we will go down [there]; for we [were sternly told that we] cannot see the man’s face unless our youngest brother is with us.’ 27Your servant my father said to us, ‘You know that my wife [Rachel] bore me [only] two sons. 28And one [son] went out from me, and I said, “Surely he is torn to pieces,” and I have not seen him since. 29If you take this one also from me, and harm or an accident happens to him, you will bring my gray hair down to Sheol in sorrow.’ 30Now, therefore, when I come to your servant my father, and the young man is not with us, since #Lit his soul is knit with the young man’s soul.his life is bound up in the young man’s life, 31when he sees that the young man is not with us, he will die; and your servants will bring the gray hair of your servant our father down to Sheol in [great] sorrow. 32For your servant became security for the young man to my father, saying, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, then let me bear the blame before my father forever.’ 33Now, therefore, please let your servant (Judah) remain here instead of the youth [to be] a slave to my lord, and let the young man go home with his brothers. 34How can I go up to my father if the young man is not with me—for fear that I would see the tragedy that would overtake my [elderly] father [if Benjamin does not return]?”