Genesis 44
Genesis 44 Kingcomments Bible Studies


This chapter contains the full confession of guilt of the brothers, pronounced by Judah. God brings the brothers, through the wisdom given to Joseph, as it were back to the field of Dothan, where they threw Joseph into the pit and sold him (Gen 37:17-24). At the time, Joseph’s cries of fear did not work out anything (cf. Gen 42:21). What will they do with Benjamin, who is loved by his father (Gen 44:20)? Will they sacrifice him too?

The Cup in Benjamin’s Sack

Again, the brothers receive an abundant measure of grain, while they also receive the money back with them. Throughout their trial the LORD remains the Same in showing His grace.

The cup must be put into Benjamin’s sack. He is the only one of the brothers who is innocent of Joseph’s rejection, but all the guilt is imputed to him. This is also what happened to the Lord Jesus. The Just has suffered for the unjust (1Pet 3:18). The brothers (and we) must learn that.

We can see the house steward as a picture of the Holy Spirit. He does everything Joseph says. He follows the brothers and ‘discovers’ the cup in Benjamin’s sack. Because of this, the brothers come into great dismay. They have no more excuses. This is what the Holy Spirit always wants to bring a soul to: a confession without excuse.

As for the cup, they are indeed innocent. For their consciences however, this has no meaning. Judah does not even mention it. Once conscience is awakened and convinced of sin, it only deals with the real question of guilt. They tear their clothes, as Jacob once did when they brought him the hypocritical news of Joseph’s death (Gen 37:32-34).

Confession before Joseph

When they come back to Joseph, this time they don’t only bow, but they fall to the ground before him. The brothers acknowledge the righteousness of God. They say that He brought their guilt to light, by which they perhaps mean the evil they did to Joseph. They experience what happens to them now, as the righteous reckoning of God. No more rebuttal comes from their lips. All they can do is offer themselves as slaves, together with Benjamin. The brothers show solidarity with Benjamin.

But Joseph continues to test their mind. He leads them further and further toward the goal, which is a complete confession and restoration of fellowship with him. Joseph knows they are innocent as far as the cup is concerned, but have they also confessed the past? Therefore, he has put them in a situation similar to that of the past. What will they do now? Will they leave their brother in slavery, knowing he is innocent? Will they deceive their father Jacob again with an invented story, now with regard to Benjamin? Then it turns out that grace has done its work in their hearts.

Judah Pleads for His Father

In this section we listen to a heart-moving plea of Judah. Joseph has achieved the goal. He notices how Judah has changed. There is nothing left of insensitivity toward his father, as it was in the announcement of Joseph’s rejection. His plea also expresses his love for Benjamin, the son of the old age of Jacob. He has learned to empathize with the feelings of his father and his youngest brother.

This is also important in the relationships between believers. It is especially important with regard to the relationship between the Father and the Son, that we get a sense of what the Father felt when His Son was suffering, both from the side of men and from the side of God. Are we not too often insensitive to this?

This change in the heart of Judah only God has been able to bring about. Judah does not plead to be released, but to get Benjamin back with his father. There is also no strong defense to prove Benjamin’s innocence. He does not seek words of justification, but appeals to Joseph’s compassion. Judah does not argue to exonerate Benjamin, but asks for mercy (Job 9:15).

There is nothing left in Judah’s feelings about his father that indicates that he wants to cheat on his father, as was the case with Joseph in the past. Judah has been the driving force behind the rejection of Joseph. His personal life is also reprehensible (Gen 38:1-26). Here we hear the confession that God has brought their crime to light (Gen 44:16).

He describes in an impressive way Jacob’s love for Benjamin and how hard it was to get Benjamin along. He expresses the grief that Jacob will have when Benjamin does not return – fourteen times he calls the name ‘father’; twelve times he speaks about his ‘brother’. Finally, he offers himself to be a slave instead of Benjamin.

Here Judah represents the whole people. As a tribe Judah is most responsible for the rejection of the Messiah. They are, as the returnees from Babylon, at the time of the public service of Lord Jesus in the land.

© 2023 Author G. de Koning

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