And so he commanded the steward of his house, saying, Fill the men"s sacks ( Genesis 44:1 )
Well, let"s see. "And he sat them before him according to birthright."
And he took and sent messes unto them from before him: but Benjamin"s mess was five times so much as any of theirs. And they drank, and were merry with him ( Genesis 43:34 ).
So they had a big party and they were merry. But he showed favoritism towards Benjamin. Sort of like family, you eat more than all the rest. And so he gave to Benjamin five times the portion that he gave to his other brothers. "And 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 money in the sack"s mouth. And put my cup, the silver cup, in the sack"s mouth of the youngest, and his wheat money also. And the steward did according to the word that Joseph had spoken. And as soon as the morning was light, the men were sent away, they and their donkeys. And when they were gone out of the city, they were not yet very far off, Joseph said to his steward, Up, and follow after the men; and when you overtake them, say unto them, Why have you rewarded evil for good? Is not this in it which my lord drinketh, and whereby indeed he divines? And you have done evil in so doing ( Genesis 44:1-5 ).
In other words, the steward was to follow them and say, "Hey, you guys, he did you a favor, he was kind to you. You ate in his house. Why would you rip off his silver cup? Don"t you know this was his divining cup?"
Now the Egyptians were very skillful in the arts of magic. In fact, they still have some of the ancient books of the magic of Egypt and so forth. And you remember at the time of Moses when he went in before the Pharaoh, the Pharaoh had his Egyptians that were able to pull off some pretty shrewd tricks. And so they were gifted in arts of magic and one of the things that they have were divining cups made of pieces of silver and gold. And it was sort of like reading the dregs in the cups, like tea leaves are read and so forth. And so Joseph said, "Hey, you". They were accused of stealing his divining cup, his silver cup. "Don"t you know that he divines in that thing?"
And so the steward went out and he overtook them, and he spoke to them these same words. And he said unto them, Why saith my lord ( Genesis 44:6-7 ).
And so they said,
Why saith my these words? God forbid that your servants should do according to this thing: Behold, the money, which we found in our sacks" mouths, we brought it again unto thee out of the land of Canaan: why should we steal out of my lord"s house silver or gold ( Genesis 44:7-8 )?
So the brothers are protesting. "Hey, we haven"t stolen anything. What do you mean? Why would we want to do that? We brought back the money that was in our sacks the first time and we have no intention of ripping off your master."
With whomsoever of thy servants it be found, both let him die, and we also will be my lord"s bondsmen. And so he said, [All right], let it be according to your words: with him with whom it is found he will be the servant; and you will all be blameless ( Genesis 44:9-10 ).
In other words, they all promised to be bondsmen and kill the one that you find it with. They said, "No, we"ll take you at your word but we"ll just let the one that we find it with, let him be the servant. The rest of you are blameless. You can go on home." Joseph was trying to keep his younger brother down there that he might have a great time with him and let him know who he was.
And so they speedily took down every man his sack to the ground, and he opened every man his sack. And they searched, and they began with the eldest, and they finished with the youngest: and the cup was found in Benjamin"s sack. And they tore their clothes, every one of them and they loaded back up their donkeys, and they returned to the city. And Judah and his brethren came to Joseph"s house; for he was still there: and they fell before him on the ground. And Joseph said unto them, What deed is this that you have done? Don"t you know that such a man as I can divine ( Genesis 44:11-15 )?
You think you could get away with that? Don"t you realize that the position I"m in I"m able to divine these things? You know, I"m able to see these things that are taking place and all.
And Judah said, What shall we say unto my lord? what shall we speak? How can we clear ourselves? God has found out the iniquity of thy servants: behold, we are my lord"s servants, both we, and also him with whom the cup is found ( Genesis 44:16 ).
Judah is saying, "Hey, what can I say? How can I clear myself? God has found us out." In other words, the iniquity. Again going back to their selling of their brother Joseph. Now they had the bags of silver that they have brought down the first time, ten brothers. They came, they had come back with that silver plus more silver. The ten brothers that came back again because Simeon was still there, twenty sacks of silver. I wonder if that maybe rang a bell. They had sold Joseph for twenty pieces of silver. And so they said, "What can we say? Our iniquity has been found out. We can"t clear ourselves. And so we"ll be your servants and the boy here will just be your servant."
And he said, God forbid that I should do so: but the man in whose hand the cup is found, he"ll be my servant; and as for the rest of you, go in peace back to your father ( Genesis 44:17 ).
I believe that Joseph is still testing. I believe that he is really anxious to see what their attitude is, their true attitude towards Benjamin. Are they jealous of Benjamin, as they were jealous of Joseph? Would they like to get rid of Benjamin like they got rid of Joseph? Does that deep jealousy still burn in their hearts? If it does, how can the purposes of God ever be accomplished through them? And I believe that Joseph is just really testing his brothers at this point to see the attitude that they have towards Benjamin.
I think the whole thing was set up by Joseph. He wants to see, "are they willing to dump him?" You see, here"s an easy opportunity. All right, we"ll go home and you know, you just keep the little guy and we got rid of the other brother that was a trial to us and now we get rid of Benjamin. Now we all inherit the old man"s goods. And so the old man dies, we become the heirs anyhow. So sure, keep him.
Testing their attitude to see if time has changed their attitude. Now he has already received the confession of guilt from them. This is a good sign. "Our iniquity has caught up with us." And here they"re saying, "Hey, we"ll all be your servants". And he says, "No, no, you don"t have to all be my servants, just the one with whom we found the cup. The rest of you go on back in peace."
Then Judah came near unto him, and he said, Oh my lord, let thy servant, I pray thee, speak a word in my lord"s ears, and let not thine anger burn against thy servant: for you"re even as Pharaoh ( Genesis 44:18 ).
You"re as great as Pharaoh.
My lord asked his servants, saying, Have you a father, or a brother? And we said unto my lord, We have a father, an old man, and a child of his old age, a little one; and his brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother, and his father loves him ( Genesis 44:19-20 ).
You see, the love that was that he had for Joseph was now being lavished upon Benjamin. Did they hate Benjamin for it? Did they have the same animosity towards Benjamin?
And you said unto thy servants, Bring him down unto me, that I may set my eyes upon him. And we said unto my lord, The lad cannot leave his father: for if he should leave his father, his father would die. But you said unto your servants, Except your youngest brother come down with you, you"re not going to even see my face again. And so it came to pass when we came up unto thy servant my father, we told him the words of my lord. And our father said, Go again, and buy us a little food. And we said, We can"t go down: if our youngest brother is not with us, then we will go down: for we pray for we may not see the man"s face, except our youngest brother be with us. So thy servant my father said unto us, Ye know that my wife bore me two sons: and the one went out from me, and I said, Surely he is torn in pieces; and I saw him not since: and if you take this also from me, and mischief befalls him, ye shall bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave. Now therefore when I come to thy servant my father, and the lad is not with us; seeing that his life is bound up in the lad"s life; It shall come to pass, when he sees that the lad is not with us, that he will die: and thy servants will bring down the gray hairs of thy servant our father with sorrow to the grave. For thy servant became surety for the lad unto my father, saying, If I bring him not again unto thee, then I will bear the blame to my father for ever. Now therefore, I pray thee, let thy servant abide instead of the lad a bondman to my lord; and let the lad go up with his brothers. For how shall I go up to my father, and the lad not be with me? lest peradventure I see the evil that shall come upon my father ( Genesis 44:21-34 ).
And so Judah, beautiful intercession. An offering to take the place of Benjamin. Oh, what a change of attitude and a change of heart. Notice how he speaks of the love of Jacob for Benjamin. Our father"s life is bound up in this kid. And if we don"t bring him again, our father will just die. It"ll bring the death to my father and it shows a love still for the ancient Jacob that Judah had and it shows really no animosity at all. Willing to take the place of Benjamin in becoming a bondman instead of Benjamin. The final test is being passed. Joseph now knows that the brothers truly have repented. He now knows that the feelings of bitterness and animosity are gone. He knows that that"s all in the past. And they are passing the test royally; Judah offering to take the place, to take the guilt and to suffer in the place.
Now it is interesting that from Judah Christ was to come. The Lion of the tribe of Judah who offered to take our guilt and our place and took our punishment for us. Here Judah offering to do that for his brother. "
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Genesis 44". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany