Genesis 44
Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary
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 his sack's mouth.
The Test. - After the dinner Joseph had his brothers' sacks filled by his steward with corn, as much as they could hold, and every one's money placed inside; and in addition to that, had his own silver goblet put into Benjamin's sack.

And put my cup, the silver cup, in the sack's mouth of the youngest, and his corn money. And he did according to the word that Joseph had spoken.
As soon as the morning was light, the men were sent away, they and their asses.
Then as soon as it was light (אור, 3rd pers. perf. in o: Ges. 72, 1), they were sent away with their asses. But they were hardly outside the town, "not far off," when he directed his steward to follow the men, and as soon as he overtook them, to say, "Wherefore have ye rewarded evil for good? Is it not this from which my lord drinketh, and he is accustomed to prophesy from it? Ye have done an evil deed!" By these words they were accused of theft; the thing was taken for granted as well known to them all, and the goblet purloined was simply described as a very valuable possession of Joseph's. נחשׁ: lit., to whisper, to mumble out formularies, incantations, then to prophesy, divinare. According to this, the Egyptians at that time practised λεκανοσκοπίη or λεκανομαντεία and ὑδρομαντεία, the plate and water incantations, of which Jamblichus speaks (de myst. iii. 14), and which consisted in pouring clean water into a goblet, and then looking into the water for representations of future events; or in pouring water into a goblet or dish, dropping in pieces of gold and silver, also precious stones, and then observing and interpreting the appearances in the water (cf. Varro apud August. civ. Dei 7, 35; Plin. h. n. 37, 73; Strabo, xvi. p. 762). Traces of this have been continued even to our own day (see Norden's Journey through Egypt and Nubia). But we cannot infer with certainty from this, that Joseph actually adopted this superstitious practice. The intention of the statement may simply have been to represent the goblet as a sacred vessel, and Joseph as acquainted with the most secret things (Genesis 44:15).

And when they were gone out of the city, and not yet far off, Joseph said unto his steward, Up, follow after the men; and when thou dost overtake them, say unto them, Wherefore have ye rewarded evil for good?
Is not this it in which my lord drinketh, and whereby indeed he divineth? ye have done evil in so doing.
And he overtook them, and he spake unto them these same words.
And they said unto him, Wherefore saith my lord these words? God forbid that thy servants should do according to this thing:
In the consciousness of their innocence the brethren repelled this charge with indignation, and appealed to the fact that they brought back the gold which was found in their sacks, and therefore could not possibly have stolen gold or silver; and declared that whoever should be found in possession of the goblet, should be put to death, and the rest become slaves.

Behold, the money, which we found in our sacks' mouths, we brought again unto thee out of the land of Canaan: how then should we steal out of thy lord's house silver or gold?
With whomsoever of thy servants it be found, both let him die, and we also will be my lord's bondmen.
And he said, Now also let it be according unto your words: he with whom it is found shall be my servant; and ye shall be blameless.
The man replied, "Now let it be even (גּם placed first for the sake of emphasis) according to your words: with whom it is found, he shall be my slave, and ye (the rest) shall remain blameless." Thus he modified the sentence, to assume the appearance of justice.

Then they speedily took down every man his sack to the ground, and opened every man his sack.
They then took down their sacks as quickly as possible; and he examined them, beginning with the eldest and finishing with the youngest; and the goblet was found in Benjamin's sack. With anguish and alarm at this new calamity they rent their clothes (vid., Genesis 37:34), loaded their asses again, and returned to the city. It would now be seen how they felt in their inmost hearts towards their father's favourite, who had been so distinguished by the great man of Egypt: whether now as formerly they were capable of giving up their brother, and bringing their aged father with sorrow to the grave; or whether they were ready, with unenvying, self-sacrificing love, to give up their own liberty and lives for him. And they stood this test.

And he searched, and began at the eldest, and left at the youngest: and the cup was found in Benjamin's sack.
Then they rent their clothes, and laded every man his ass, and returned to the city.
And Judah and his brethren came to Joseph's house; for he was yet there: and they fell before him on the ground.
Result of the Test. - Genesis 44:14-17. With Judah leading the way, they came into the house to Joseph, and fell down before him begging for mercy. Joseph spoke to them harshly: "What kind of deed is this that ye have done? Did ye not know that such a man as I((a man initiated into the most secret things) would certainly divine this?" נחשׁ augurari. Judah made no attempt at a defence. "What shall we say to my lord? how speak, how clear ourselves? God (Ha-Elohim, the personal God) has found out the wickedness of thy servants (i.e., He is now punishing the crime committed against our brother, cf. Genesis 42:21). Behold, we are my lord's slaves, both we, and he in whose hand the cup was found." But Joseph would punish mildly and justly. The guilty one alone should be his slave; the others might go in peace, i.e., uninjured, to their father.

And Joseph said unto them, What deed is this that ye have done? wot ye not that such a man as I can certainly divine?
And Judah said, What shall we say unto my lord? what shall we speak? or how shall we clear ourselves? God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants: behold, we are my lord's servants, both we, and he also with whom the cup is found.
And he said, God forbid that I should do so: but the man in whose hand the cup is found, he shall be my servant; and as for you, get you up in peace unto your father.
Then Judah came near unto him, and 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 thou art even as Pharaoh.
But that the brothers could not do. Judah, who had pledged himself to his father for Benjamin, ventured in the anguish of his heart to approach Joseph, and implore him to liberate his brother. "I would give very much," says Luther, "to be able to pray to our Lord God as well as Judah prays to Joseph here; for it is a perfect specimen of prayer, the true feeling that there ought to be in prayer." Beginning with the request for a gracious hearing, as he was speaking to the ears of one who was equal to Pharaoh (who could condemn or pardon like the king), Judah depicted in natural, affecting, powerful, and irresistible words the love of their aged father to this son of his old age, and his grief when they told him that they were not to come into the presence of the lord of Egypt again without Benjamin; the intense anxiety with which, after a severe struggle, their father had allowed him to come, after he (Judah) had offered to be answerable for his life; and the grievous fact, that if they returned without the youth, they must bring down the grey hairs of their father with sorrow to the grave.

My lord asked his servants, saying, Have ye 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 loveth him.
And thou saidst unto thy servants, Bring him down unto me, that I may set mine eyes upon him.
To "set eyes upon him" signifies, with a gracious intention, to show him good-will (as in Jeremiah 39:12; Jeremiah 40:4).

And we said unto my lord, The lad cannot leave his father: for if he should leave his father, his father would die.
And thou saidst unto thy servants, Except your youngest brother come down with you, ye shall see my face no more.
And 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 cannot go down: if our youngest brother be with us, then will we go down: for we may not see the man's face, except our youngest brother be with us.
And thy servant my father said unto us, Ye know that my wife bare me two sons:
"That my wife bore to me two (sons):" Jacob regards Rachel alone as his actual wife (cf. Genesis 46:19).

And the one went out from me, and I said, Surely he is torn in pieces; and I saw him not since:
ואמר, preceded by a preterite, is to be rendered "and I was obliged to say, Only (nothing but) torn in pieces has he become."

And if ye take this also from me, and mischief befall 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 be not with us; seeing that his life is bound up in the lad's life;
"His soul is bound to his soul:" equivalent to, "he clings to him with all his soul."

It shall come to pass, when he seeth that the lad is not with us, that he will die: and thy servants shall 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 unto thee, then I shall 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 brethren.
Judah closed his appeal with the entreaty, "Now let thy servant (me) remain instead of the lad as slave to my lord, but let the lad go up with his brethren; for how could I go to my father without the lad being with me! (I cannot,) that I may not see the calamity which will befall my father!"

For how shall I go up to my father, and the lad be not with me? lest peradventure I see the evil that shall come on my father.
Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch [1857-78].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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