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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Genesis 44

Verses 1-2

FURTHER TROUBLES, AND JUDAH’S APPEAL, Genesis 44:1-34.

2. My cup, the silver cup A large silver goblet or bowl, out of which, according to Genesis 44:5, Joseph was wont to divine . The practice of divining from goblets obtained among the Egyptians and the Persians, and is mentioned by several ancient authors . The practice was to pour clean water into the goblet, and then look into it as into a mirror to discern the future. Sometimes small pieces of gold and silver and precious stones were dropped into the water, and their appearance closely scrutinized, and certain incantations were pronounced in order to evoke some intelligible answer from the unknown and mysterious divinity supposed to abide within the water. There is nothing said in this chapter that necessarily implies that Joseph practiced divination. All his action in the case was designed to awe and prove his brothers, and bring out their real feeling towards Benjamin. Yet, in that time of strange mixture of superstition and religion, it is possible that Joseph, intimate with the arts of the Egyptian priests, and skilled in the interpretation of dreams, may have had something to do with the magic of the people whose manners he so largely adopted.

Verse 9

9. Let him die Their words on the occasion show the intensity of their feeling and excitement, and their entire action evinced their consciousness of innocency as to the charge of stealing the cup .

Verse 13

13. Rent their clothes They were now horror-stricken, and utterly overwhelmed with dismay . They could not utter any word of explanation, and they hastened back to the city .

Verse 14

14. Fell before him Another fulfilling of Joseph’s dream . See on Genesis 43:26.

Verse 18

18. Judah came near and said Nothing in all literature surpasses this appeal of Judah in behalf of his brother and his father . It is remarkable that he makes no attempt to deny the charge of taking the cup; he makes no plea of innocence, but assumes, in utter helplessness through other sins, that God was in all this discovering the iniquity of himself and his brethren. Luther says: “I would give very much to be able to pray to our Lord God as well as Judah here prays to Joseph.” Kalisch observes: “Judah, the lion, could never degrade his dignity by an outburst of impotent rage; the tempest of his feelings was checked by controlling reason, and the chaotic confusion of his emotions gave way to manly composure and lucid thought. Stepping forward towards the inexorable man with the courage and modesty of a hero, he delivered that address which is one of the masterpieces of Hebrew composition. It is not distinguished by brilliant imagination, or highly poetical diction; its inimitable charm and excellence consist in the power of psychological truth, easy simplicity, and affecting pathos. It possesses the eloquence of facts, not of words; it is, in reality, scarcely more than a simple recapitulation of past incidents; but the selection, arrangement, and intrinsic emphasis of the facts produce an effect attainable only by consummate art. The deep and fervent love of the aged father for his youngest son forms the center, round which the other parts of the speech, the allusion to Joseph, to Rachel, and to the struggle of the brothers before their departure from Canaan are skilfully grouped. Jacob would never survive the loss of Benjamin; and if the brothers returned without him, they would see their father expire in agony before their eyes.… Could Joseph still remain unmoved? One trait more completed the victory over his heart.… Anxious to seal his filial love by the greatest sacrifice he could possibly offer, Judah was ready to renounce his home, his wife, and his children, and forever to toil in the drudgery of Egyptian bondage.”

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Genesis 44". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/genesis-44.html. 1874-1909.