(Gen 44:1 NASB) Then he commanded his house steward, saying, “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.
(Gen 44:2 NASB) “And put my cup, the silver cup, in the mouth of the sack of the youngest, and his money for the grain.” And he did as Joseph had told him.
Gen 44:2: Then mention of silver or money occurs twenty times in this account of Joseph and his brothers. Joseph was sold by his brothers for twenty pieces of silver. Now Joseph tests his brothers with silver.
Joseph is very generous with them. He gives them more than their monies worth and secretly gives them their money back. This makes their supposed “ingratitude” they are accused of seem even worse.
(Gen 44:3 NASB) As soon as it was light, the men were sent away, they with their donkeys.
(Gen 44:4 NASB) They had just gone out of the city, and were not far off, when Joseph said to his house steward, “Up, follow the men; and when you overtake them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid evil for good?
Gen 44:4: Joseph set his brothers up once again. He is going to have his men overtake them and accuse them of theft.
(Gen 44:5 NASB) ‘Is not this the one from which my lord drinks, and which he indeed uses for divination? You have done wrong in doing this.'”
Gen 44:5: Joseph obviously did not use the cup to practice divination. That comment was used to attach significance to the cup. The use of divination was probably assumed of someone that had Joseph’s position as second in command to Pharaoh.
(Gen 44:6 NASB) So he overtook them and spoke these words to them.
(Gen 44:7 NASB) And they said to him, “Why does my lord speak such words as these? Far be it from your servants to do such a thing.
(Gen 44:8 NASB) “Behold, the money which we found in the mouth of our sacks we have brought back to you from the land of Canaan. How then could we steal silver or gold from your lord’s house?
Gen 44:8: The brothers do not believe that anything could possibly be wrong. They know they were treated very well by the royalty of Egypt. So they make a rash statement concerning the their honesty.
(Gen 44:9 NASB) “With whomever of your servants it is found, let him die, and we also will be my lord’s slaves.”
Gen 44:9: They offer to let them kill the one who has stolen anything, if it actually happened. Plus, the rest of them can be taken in slavery. This kind of boastful comment was made by their father also (Gen. 31:32).
(Gen 44:10 NASB) So he said, “Now let it also be according to your words; he with whom it is found shall be my slave, and the rest of you shall be innocent.”
Gen 44:10: The man is going to allow them something less than what they offer. He said they will take the guilty one as a slave only.
(Gen 44:11 NASB) Then they hurried, each man lowered his sack to the ground, and each man opened his sack.
(Gen 44:12 NASB) And he searched, beginning with the oldest and ending with the youngest, and the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack.
(Gen 44:13 NASB) Then they tore their clothes, and when each man loaded his donkey, they returned to the city.
Gen 44:13: The search went from the oldest to the youngest. The cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. The brothers were extremely upset over this. They knew what it would do to their father. Tearing one’s clothes is a sign of mourning (Lev. 10:6).
They are doing what they caused their father to do years earlier (Gen. 37:32-34).
(Gen 44:14 NASB) When Judah and his brothers came to Joseph’s house, he was still there, and they fell to the ground before him.
(Gen 44:15 NASB) And Joseph said to them, “What is this deed that you have done? Do you not know that such a man as I can indeed practice divination?”
Gen 44:15: Joseph is faking importance on that cup in order to make their offense seem worse. Once again, it would be assumed that a person with the rank of Joseph would rely heavily on secret, magical sources of information that are integral to keeping the kingdom strong and dominant.
Once again, this is accusing them of being spies and trying to subvert the kingdom of Egypt.
(Gen 44:16 NASB) So Judah said, “What can we say to my lord? What can we speak? And how can we justify ourselves? God has found out the iniquity of your servants; behold, we are my lord’s slaves, both we and the one in whose possession the cup has been found.”
(Gen 44:17 NASB) But he said, “Far be it from me to do this. The man in whose possession the cup has been found, he shall be my slave; but as for you, go up in peace to your father.”
Gen 44:17: The brothers want to know how they can clear themselves. They know they cannot return home without Benjamin. Joseph knew this. Regardless, Joseph had been listening to their conversations while they thought he could not understand them.
He is going to let them go back, but without Benjamin. He knew what position this offer would put them in. He gave them an opportunity to save their own lives, but at the expense of their brother.
If they stay in Egypt, their father will die of starvation.
(Gen 44:18 NASB) Then Judah approached him, and said, “Oh my lord, may your servant please speak a word in my lord’s ears, and do not be angry with your servant; for you are equal to Pharaoh.
Gen 44:18: Judah now gives a speech which is the longest speech in the book of Genesis. It is a beautiful speech filled with passion and sincerity.
(Gen 44:19 NASB) “My lord asked his servants, saying, ‘Have you a father or a brother?’
(Gen 44:20 NASB) “And we said to my lord, ‘We have an old father and a little child of his old age. Now his brother is dead, so he alone is left of his mother, and his father loves him.’
(Gen 44:21 NASB) “Then you said to your servants, ‘Bring him down to me, that I may set my eyes on him.’
Gen 44:21: Judah starts his eloquent speech by recapitulating recent events in verses 18-29.
(Gen 44:22 NASB) “But we said to my lord, ‘The lad cannot leave his father, for if he should leave his father, his father would die.’
(Gen 44:23 NASB) “You said to your servants, however, ‘Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you shall not see my face again.’
(Gen 44:24 NASB) “Thus it came about when we went up to your servant my father, we told him the words of my lord.
(Gen 44:25 NASB) “And our father said, ‘Go back, buy us a little food.’
Gen 44:25: Judah is appealing to Joseph on the aspect of his father and his loving relationship with his youngest son.
(Gen 44:26 NASB) “But we said, ‘We cannot go down. If our youngest brother is with us, then we will go down; for we cannot see the man’s face unless our youngest brother is with us.’
(Gen 44:27 NASB) “And your servant my father said to us, ‘You know that my wife bore me two sons;
(Gen 44:28 NASB) and the one went out from me, and I said, “Surely he is torn in pieces,” and I have not seen him since.
(Gen 44:29 NASB) ‘And if you take this one also from me, and harm befalls him, you will bring my gray hair down to Sheol in sorrow.’
Gen 44:29: His father cannot live without his only son of the woman he truly loved. This is going to appeal to Joseph in a way that Judah could not have imagined since Judah did not know who he was talking to.
(Gen 44:30 NASB) “Now, therefore, when I come to your servant my father, and the lad is not with us, since his life is bound up in the lad’s life,
(Gen 44:31 NASB) it will come about when he sees that the lad is not with us, that he will die. Thus your servants will bring the gray hair of your servant our father down to Sheol in sorrow.
(Gen 44:32 NASB) “For your servant became surety for the lad to my father, saying, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, then let me bear the blame before my father forever.’
Gen 44:32: Judah is stating that he will be to blame if Benjamin is not brought back to his father. And it will be the end of his father’s life if that happens.
(Gen 44:33 NASB) “Now, therefore, please let your servant remain instead of the lad a slave to my lord, and let the lad go up with his brothers.
(Gen 44:34 NASB) “For how shall I go up to my father if the lad is not with me, lest I see the evil that would overtake my father?”
Gen 44:34: Judah finishes his plea by offering to take the punishment of Benjamin upon himself. It is a beautiful illustration of what his Descendant will do for the world in generations to come.
Patrick McGuireCopyright 2014 Patrick McGuire and Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly All rights reserved, no portion of this Lesson may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations in articles and reviews. Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly Fort Smith, Arkansas