Brow Publications, Kingston, Ontario (e-mail: email@example.com) 2004
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GENESIS 44:1-13 (Joseph’s silver cup is put in Benjamin’s sack of grain)
44:1-2 Joseph ordered his steward to provide each brother with as much grain as they could carry, and without their knowing place the money they had returned on top of each sack. But in the top of Benjamin’s sack he had his own silver cup placed with the money.
44:3-5 When the brothers had left, Joseph sent his steward to accuse his brothers of stealing the silver cup he drank from and used for divination. Laban learned by divination that God was blessing him because of Jacob’s presence (30:27). But after the Exodus in the law of Moses divination and other occult practices were strictly forbidden (Deuteronomy 18:10). Perhaps we should distinguish divination for money (fortune telling) from personal looking to the Lord for wisdom and guidance.
44:6-9 When the steward caught up with them, he repeated this accusation. They told him to check the money which had been returned to them, and if the cup was found in one of their sacks that brother should be condemned to death and they would gladly become Joseph’s slaves. The brothers seemed genuinely horrified that such an accusation could be leveled against them
44:10-13 He said that only the one with the cup would become his slave, and the rest would be free to go home. By putting the cup in Benjamin’s sack it seems Joseph was testing the brothers to see if they would abandon Benjamin to slavery as they had done over 20 years before (37:28). The sacks were searched beginning with the older brother, and the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. The other brothers tore their clothes as a sign of pain and horror, and they went back to Joseph with the steward.
GENESIS 44:14-34 (Judah pleads for his brother Benjamin to be let go)
44:14-17 Judah and his brothers again fell to the ground before Joseph (see 42:6; 43:26) who accused them of stealing the cup. Judah was the spokesman (as in 44:16) and he confessed that God’s wrath had caught up with their guilt (as in 42:21), and he offered to have all the brothers become slaves. But Joseph only demanded that Benjamin become his slave, and the rest could go home.
44:18-23 Judah respectfully asked for permission to go over the whole story of what had happened on the previous visits.
44:24-31 He also told Joseph about their old father’s concern. If Benjamin did not come back with them, the old man would surely die of grief.
44:32-34 He explained that he had become surety (43:8-9) for his younger brother. And he asked if he could become Joseph’s slave and let Benjamin go home to his father.
Note: Judah had behaved abominably in the matter of his daughter-in-law Tamar (38:1-19), but then he had the grace to accept the twins who were born as his own (38:24-30) and they became part of the royal line of the Messiah (Matthew 1:3). In this chapter his gentle caring character is revealed as he pleads for his brother and the feelings of his old father. Judah later received a special prophetic blessing from Isaac (49:8-12).
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