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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
Joseph’s Cup
1And he commanded the #Gen. 43:16steward of his house, saying, #Gen. 42:25“Fill the men’s sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put each man’s money in the mouth of his sack. 2Also put my cup, the silver cup, in the mouth of the sack of the youngest, and his grain money.” So he did according to the word that Joseph had spoken. 3As soon as the morning dawned, the men were sent away, they and their donkeys. 4When they had gone out of the city, and were not yet far off, Joseph said to his steward, “Get up, follow the men; and when you overtake them, say to them, ‘Why have you #1 Sam. 25:21repaid evil for good? 5Is not this the one from which my lord drinks, and with which he indeed practices divination? You have done evil in so doing.’ ”
6So he overtook them, and he spoke to them these same words. 7And they said to him, “Why does my lord say these words? Far be it from us that your servants should do such a thing. 8Look, we brought back to you from the land of Canaan #Gen. 43:21the money which we found in the mouth of our sacks. How then could we steal silver or gold from your lord’s house? 9With whomever of your servants it is found, #Gen. 31:32let him die, and we also will be my lord’s slaves.”
10And he said, “Now also let it be according to your words; he with whom it is found shall be my slave, and you shall be blameless.” 11Then each man speedily let down his sack to the ground, and each opened his sack. 12So he searched. He began with the oldest and left off with the youngest; and the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. 13Then they #Gen. 37:29, 34; Num. 14:6; 2 Sam. 1:11tore their clothes, and each man loaded his donkey and returned to the city.
14So Judah and his brothers came to Joseph’s house, and he was still there; and they #Gen. 37:7, 10fell before him on the ground. 15And Joseph said to them, “What deed is this you have done? Did you not know that such a man as I can certainly practice divination?”
16Then Judah said, “What shall we say to my lord? What shall we speak? Or how shall we clear ourselves? God has #(Num. 32:23)found out the iniquity of your servants; here #Gen. 44:9we are, my lord’s slaves, both we and he also with whom the cup was found.”
17But he said, #Prov. 17:15“Far be it from me that I should do so; the man in whose hand the cup was found, he shall be my slave. And as for you, go up in peace to your father.”
Judah Intercedes for Benjamin
18Then Judah came near to him and said: “O my lord, please let your servant speak a word in my lord’s hearing, and #Gen. 18:30, 32; Ex. 32:22do not let your anger burn against your servant; for you are even like Pharaoh. 19My lord asked his servants, saying, ‘Have you a father or a brother?’ 20And we said to my lord, ‘We have a father, an old man, and #Gen. 37:3; 43:8; 44:30a child of his old age, who is young; his brother is #Gen. 42:38dead, and he #Gen. 46:19alone is left of his mother’s children, and his #Gen. 42:4father loves him.’ 21Then you said to your servants, #Gen. 42:15, 20‘Bring him down to me, that I may set my eyes on him.’ 22And we said to my lord, #Gen. 43:3, 5‘The lad cannot leave his father, for if he should leave his father, his father would die.’ 23But you said to your servants, ‘Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you shall see my face no more.’
24“So it was, when we went up to your servant my father, that we told him the words of my lord. 25And #Gen. 43:2our father said, ‘Go back and 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 may not see the man’s face unless our youngest brother is with us.’ 27Then your servant my father said to us, ‘You know that #Gen. 30:22–24; 35:16–18; 46:19my wife bore me two sons; 28and the one went out from me, and I said, #Gen. 37:31–35“Surely he is torn to pieces”; and I have not seen him since. 29But if you #Gen. 42:36, 38; 44:31take this one also from me, and calamity befalls him, you shall bring down my gray hair with sorrow to the grave.’
30“Now therefore, when I come to your servant my father, and the lad is not with us, since #(1 Sam. 18:1; 25:29)his life is bound up in the lad’s life, 31it will happen, when he sees that the lad is not with us, that he will die. So your servants will bring down the gray hair of your servant our father with sorrow to the grave. 32For your servant became surety for the lad to my father, saying, #Gen. 43:9‘If I do not bring him back to you, then I shall bear the blame before my father forever.’ 33Now therefore, please #Ex. 32:32let your servant remain instead of the lad as a slave to my lord, and let the lad go up with his brothers. 34For how shall I go up to my father if the lad is not with me, lest perhaps I see the evil that would come upon my father?”