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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
1And he commandeth him who [is] over his house, saying, ‘Fill the bags of the men [with] food, as they are able to bear, and put the money of each in the mouth of his bag;
2and my cup, the silver cup, thou dost put in the mouth of the bag of the young one, and his corn-money;’ and he doth according to the word of Joseph which he hath spoken.
3The morning is bright, and the men have been sent away, they and their asses —
4they have gone out of the city — they have not gone far off — and Joseph hath said to him who [is] over his house, ‘Rise, pursue after the men; and thou hast overtaken them, and thou hast said unto them, Why have ye recompensed evil for good?
5Is not this that with which my lord drinketh? and he observeth diligently with it; ye have done evil [in] that which ye have done.’
6And he overtaketh them, and speaketh unto them these words,
7and they say unto him, ‘Why doth my lord speak according to these words? far be it from thy servants to do according to this word;
8lo, the money which we found in the mouth of our bags we brought back unto thee from the land of Canaan, and how do we steal from the house of thy lord silver or gold?
9with whomsoever of thy servants it is found, he hath died, and we also are to my lord for servants.’
10And he saith, ‘Now, also, according to your words, so it [is]; he with whom it is found becometh my servant, and ye are acquitted;’
11and they hasten and take down each his bag to the earth, and each openeth his bag;
12and he searcheth — at the eldest he hath begun, and at the youngest he hath completed — and the cup is found in the bag of Benjamin;
13and they rend their garments, and each ladeth his ass, and they turn back to the city.
14And Judah — his brethren also — cometh in unto the house of Joseph, and he is yet there, and they fall before him to the earth;
15and Joseph saith to them, ‘What [is] this deed that ye have done? have ye not known that a man like me doth diligently observe?’
16And Judah saith, ‘What do we say to my lord? what do we speak? and what — do we justify ourselves? God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants; lo, we [are] servants to my lord, both we, and he in whose hand the cup hath been found;’
17and he saith, ‘Far be it from me to do this; the man in whose hand the cup hath been found, he becometh my servant; and ye, go ye up in peace unto your father.’
18And Judah cometh nigh unto him, and saith, ‘O, my lord, let thy servant speak, I pray thee, a word in the ears of my lord, and let not thine anger burn against thy servant — for thou art as Pharaoh.
19My lord hath asked his servants, saying, Have ye a father or brother?
20and we say unto my lord, We have a father, an aged one, and a child of old age, a little one; and his brother died, and he is left alone of his mother, and his father hath loved him.
21‘And thou sayest unto thy servants, Bring him down unto me, and I set mine eye upon him;
22and we say unto my lord, The youth is not able to leave his father, when he hath left his father, then he hath died;
23and thou sayest unto thy servants, If your young brother come not down with you, ye add not to see my face.
24‘And it cometh to pass, that we have come up unto thy servant my father, that we declare to him the words of my lord;
25and our father saith, Turn back, buy for us a little food,
26and we say, We are not able to go down; if our young brother is with us, then we have gone down; for we are not able to see the man's face, and our young brother not with us.
27‘And thy servant my father saith unto us, Ye — ye have known that two did my wife bare to me,
28and the one goeth out from me, and I say, Surely he is torn — torn! and I have not seen him since;
29when ye have taken also this from my presence, and mischief hath met him, then ye have brought down my grey hairs with evil to sheol.
30‘And now, at my coming in unto thy servant my father, and the youth not with us (and his soul is bound up in his soul),
31then it hath come to pass when he seeth that the youth is not, that he hath died, and thy servants have brought down the grey hairs of thy servant our father with sorrow to sheol;
32for thy servant obtained the youth by surety from my father, saying, If I bring him not in unto thee — then I have sinned against my father all the days.
33‘And now, let thy servant, I pray thee, abide instead of the youth a servant to my lord, and the youth goeth up with his brethren,
34for how do I go up unto my father, and the youth not with me? lest I look on the evil which doth find my father.’