Genesis 44
Matthew Poole's 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.
Joseph commands his steward to fill their sacks, restore every man’s money, and put his silver cup into Benjamin’s sack; sends them away, Genesis 44:1-3; thereby contriving to bring them back again: they are pursued, and charged with theft, Genesis 44:4-6; whereat, being greatly perplexed, they ignorantly make themselves liable to punishment, Genesis 44:7-10. The cup is found in Benjamin’s sack; they return to Joseph, submitting to his censure, Genesis 44:11-14. Joseph pretends the gift of prophecy, Genesis 44:15. Judah speaks much and earnestly on Benjamin’s behalf, offering to remain in his stead, Genesis 44:16-34.

No text from Poole on this verse.

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.
It seems to have been a large cup, and of great price, and much used by Joseph.

In the sack’s mouth of the youngest, with design to discover their intentions and affections towards Benjamin, whether they did envy him, and would desert him in his danger, as they did Joseph; or would cleave to him; that hence he might take his measures how to deal with him and them.

As soon as the morning was light, the men were sent away, they and their asses.
No text from Poole on this verse.

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?
No text from Poole on this verse.

Is not this it in which my lord drinketh, and whereby indeed he divineth? ye have done evil in so doing.
Amongst the several kinds of divination in use among the Egyptians and other heathens, this was one, to do it by a cup or bason, which they filled with water, and put in them plates of silver, or precious stones, in which certain characters were engraven, by which, and some words they used, they called upon the devil, who gave them answer. Joseph did not use this course, nor was a diviner, but the people thought him such a one, and the steward might represent him as such, for the better covering or carrying on his design. But this sense agrees not with Genesis 44:15, Wot you not, & c. Which words show that he speaks of something which they all might easily know; but they did not know that Joseph was a diviner, much less that he divined by that cup, whereas that kind of divination was generally performed by a glass, not by a cup. Others observe, that the Hebrew word ofttimes signifies not to divine, but only to observe and discover a thing, as Genesis 30:27 1 Kings 20:33, and render the place thus, whereby he will certainly observe or discover, to wit, what you are and do. But this also seems not to consist with Genesis 44:15, and the supplement is too large and remote. The true sense then is this, the Hebrew bo is not to be rendered by which, but concerning which, as the particle beth is oft used, and it notes not the instrument whereby, but the object about which, he did divine, and the words must be rendered, concerning which he can or would certainly divine. And this agrees well with Genesis 44:15: q.d. Did you think you could deceive my master? Did not you and all others know that he could divine, and discover secret things, whence he had both his name and preferment? And this cup being much prized and used by him, you might easily judge that he would use his art to recover it.

Ye have done evil, i.e. very evil, unjustly, unthankfully, and foolishly.

And he overtook them, and he spake unto them these same words.
No text from Poole on this verse.

And they said unto him, Wherefore saith my lord these words? God forbid that thy servants should do according to this thing:
No text from Poole on this verse.

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?
It is not probable that we who restored that which was in our power to keep, and to conceal without any danger, should steal that which was likely to be discovered with so much shame and hazard to ourselves.

With whomsoever of thy servants it be found, both let him die, and we also will be my lord's bondmen.
This overdaring offer proceeded from hence, that they were all conscious of their own innocency, and did not suspect any fraud or artifice in the matter.

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.
Thus he moderates the conditions which they proposed, exempting the innocent, and exchanging the deserved and offered death of the nocent into slavery.

Then they speedily took down every man his sack to the ground, and opened every man his sack.
No text from Poole on this verse.

And he searched, and began at the eldest, and left at the youngest: and the cup was found in Benjamin's sack.
Began at the eldest, to take off all their suspicion of his fraud.

The cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. He found doubtless the money there, but he accused them not about that matter, both because they had an answer ready to that charge from his own mouth, Genesis 43:23, and because the greater crime, the stealing of the cup which Joseph so much prized and used, might seem to extinguish the less, or at least cause him to neglect it.

Then they rent their clothes, and laded every man his ass, and returned to the city.
Being afraid and ashamed to go to their father without Benjamin, concerning whom they had received so severe a charge, and made such solemn promises and imprecations.

And Judah and his brethren came to Joseph's house; for he was yet there: and they fell before him on the ground.
No text from Poole on this verse.

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?
No text from Poole on this verse.

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.
Judah speaks in the cause, as being one of the eldest, and a person of most gravity and discretion, and readiness of speech, and most eminently concerned for his brother.

God hath found out the iniquity, viz. this iniquity, of which it seems some of us are guilty, and God hath discovered it. Or iniquity may be put for iniquities; whether we are guilty of this fact or not, we are certainly guilty of many other sins, for which God is now punishing us, to whose providence we therefore willingly submit.

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.
No text from Poole on this verse.

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.
Judah made a little nearer approach to him, that he might present his humble petition to him.

In my lord’s ears, in thy hearing; for this phrase doth not necessarily imply that he whispered in his ears; as appears from Numbers 14:28 Deu 32:44 Judges 17:2.

Thou art even as Pharaoh; as thou representest his person, so thou art invested with his majesty and authority, and therefore thy word is a law; thou canst do with us what thou pleasest, either spare or punish us, and therefore we do justly deprecate thine anger, and most humbly entreat thy favourable audience and princely compassion to us.

My lord asked his servants, saying, Have ye a father, or a brother?
No text from Poole on this verse.

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.
A little one; so they call him comparatively to themselves, who were much elder; and withal, to signify the reason why he came, not with them, because he was young and tender, and unfit for such a journey.

And thou saidst unto thy servants, Bring him down unto me, that I may set mine eyes upon him.
i.e. See him with my own eyes, and thereby be satisfied of the truth of what you say. Compare Genesis 42:15,16. Elsewhere this phrase signifies to show favour to a person, as Jeremiah 39:12 40:4. But though that was Joseph’s intention, as yet he was minded to conceal it from them.

And we said unto my lord, The lad cannot leave his father: for if he should leave his father, his father would die.
No text from Poole on this verse.

And thou saidst unto thy servants, Except your youngest brother come down with you, ye shall see my face no more.

Why would Joseph expose his father to the hazard of his life, in parting with his dear child?

Answ. Joseph supposed that to be but a pretence, and might fear lest his brethren had disposed of Benjamin as they did of him, and therefore could not bring him forth. And as for his father, the experience which he had of his continuance in life and health after the supposed untimely death of Joseph, gave him good assurance that his parting with Benjamin for a season, and that under the care and charge of his brethren, was not likely to make any dangerous impression upon him.

And it came to pass when we came up unto thy servant my father, we told him the words of my lord.
No text from Poole on this verse.

And our father said, Go again, and buy us a little food.
No text from Poole on this verse.

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.
No text from Poole on this verse.

And thy servant my father said unto us, Ye know that my wife bare me two sons:
He calleth her

my wife, by way of eminency, as Genesis 46:19, because she only was his wife by design and choice, whereas Leah was put upon him by fraud, and might have been refused by him, if he had so pleased; and the other two were given to him by Rachel and Leah.

And the one went out from me, and I said, Surely he is torn in pieces; and I saw him not since:
No text from Poole on this verse.

And if ye take this also from me, and mischief befall him, ye shall bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.
No text from Poole on this verse.

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;
The death of the child, which upon this occasion he will firmly believe, will unavoidably procure his death also.

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.
No text from Poole on this verse.

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.
No text from Poole on this verse.

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.
Partly in compassion to our aged father, and partly for thy own advantage; because I can be more serviceable to thee than he, because of my greater strength and experience.

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.
No text from Poole on this verse.

Matthew Poole's Commentary

Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bible Hub
Genesis 43
Top of Page
Top of Page