Genesis 44: Joseph Detains Benjamin

Now that all the brothers were safely on their way home, why did no one think to check their sack to see if it contained money as before?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Genesis 44:1–3 Joseph ordered his servant to fill his brothers’ sacks with as much as they would hold and put every man’s money at the top. 2 “In the youngest one’s sack,” Joseph said, “include my silver cup with the money.”
So the servant did as he was instructed.
Early the next morning, the men were sent away with their donkeys.
King James
Genesis 44:1–3 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. 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. 3 As soon as the morning was light, the men were sent away, they and their asses.

How much did the servant know about what Joseph was doing with return of the money and putting the silver cup into Benjamin’s sack?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Genesis 44:1–6 Joseph ordered his servant to fill his brothers’ sacks with as much as they would hold and put every man’s money at the top. “In the youngest one’s sack,” Joseph said, “include my silver cup with the money.”
So the servant did as he was instructed.
Early the next morning, the men were sent away with their donkeys. They were not yet far away from the city when Joseph told his servant to go after them. “When you catch them,” he said, “ask why they have repaid my kindness with such evil. Tell them they have done a terrible thing by stealing your master’s silver cup that he uses to predict the future.”
When the servant caught up with them, he accused them of stealing the silver cup.
King James
Genesis 44:1–6 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. 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. 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.

Why was the silver cup so important?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Genesis 44:5–6 Tell them they have done a terrible thing by stealing your master’s silver cup that he uses to predict the future.”
When the servant caught up with them, he accused them of stealing the silver cup.
King James
Genesis 44:5–6 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.

How could all the brothers be sure that everyone was innocent?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Genesis 44:7–9 “Why would you say that?” the brothers said. “We would never do such a thing. When we came from Canaan, we brought back the money we found in the top or our sacks. So why would we steal silver or gold from your master’s house? If you find that one of us has the cup, then you can kill him, and the rest of us will become your master’s slaves.”
King James
Genesis 44:7–9 And they said unto him, Wherefore saith my lord these words? God forbid that thy servants should do according to this thing: 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.

Why would they say anyone who was found guilty should be killed and the rest would be willing slaves? Why did Joseph’s servant say only the thief would be taken into slavery?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Genesis 44:9–10 “If you find that one of us has the cup, then you can kill him, and the rest of us will become your master’s slaves.”
“All right, then,” the servant said. “Whoever has the cup will be the slave, and the rest of you, being innocent, can go free.”
King James
Genesis 44:9–10 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.

What did the brothers think when they began to open sacks and found money there, same as before? What did the servant say in response to that discovery?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Genesis 44:11 All the men dropped their sacks to the ground and opened them.
King James
Genesis 44:11 Then they speedily took down every man his sack to the ground, and opened every man his sack.

If only Benjamin was to be taken for theft, why did all the brothers load their donkeys and return to the city?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Genesis 44:12–13 The search began with the oldest and ended with the youngest, and the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack.
The brothers tore their clothes in grief, loaded their donkeys, and returned to the city.
King James
Genesis 44:12–13 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.

Why did Joseph identify himself as a man who interprets dreams?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Genesis 44:14–15 Joseph was still at home when Judah and his brothers arrived. They fell to the ground before him.
“What have you done?” Joseph said. “Didn’t you know that a man who interprets dreams would find out?”
King James
Genesis 44:14–15 And Judah and his brethren came to Joseph’s house; for he was yet there: and they fell before him on the ground.
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?

What can be done when a person is innocent but can’t prove it?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Genesis 44:16–17 “What can we say, sir?” Judah said. “How can we prove our innocence? God has found us guilty, and we are your slaves, including the one found with your cup.”
“No,” Joseph said, “I would never punish the innocent. The man in whose hand the cup was found—he will be my slave. The rest of you may go to your father in peace.”
King James
Genesis 44:16–17 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.

Why did Judah say God had found them all guilty, and they would be slaves?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Genesis 44:16–17 “What can we say, sir?” Judah said. “How can we prove our innocence? God has found us guilty, and we are your slaves, including the one found with your cup.”
“No,” Joseph said, “I would never punish the innocent. The man in whose hand the cup was found—he will be my slave. The rest of you may go to your father in peace.”
King James
Genesis 44:16–17 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.

Why did Joseph refuse the brothers’ submission to slavery and only require Benjamin to stay?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Genesis 44:16–17 “What can we say, sir?” Judah said. “How can we prove our innocence? God has found us guilty, and we are your slaves, including the one found with your cup.”
“No,” Joseph said, “I would never punish the innocent. The man in whose hand the cup was found—he will be my slave. The rest of you may go to your father in peace.”
King James
Genesis 44:16–17 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.

What hope did Judah have that his story might soften the heart of a harsh Egyptian official like Zaphenath Paneah?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Genesis 41:45 Pharaoh gave Joseph the Egyptian name Zaphenath Paneah and arranged for Asenath, daughter of Potipherah, priest of Cairo, to be his wife. So Joseph went out to govern the land of Egypt.
Genesis 44:18–31 Judah stepped forward. “Please, sir, I beg you. Allow me to speak, and don’t be angry with your servant, for I know you have the power of Pharaoh. You asked if our father was alive. Did we have a brother? We said our father is an old man. He has only the one son born of his mother when he was old. His brother is dead. So his father loves him very much. You ordered us to bring him to you so you could see him. We said we couldn’t do that, because his father would die, but you insisted, saying you would not see us again unless he was with us.
“When we saw our father, we told him what you said. Later, he asked us to go again and buy a little food. We told him we couldn’t do that unless our brother went with us, that otherwise you would not see us. He reminded us that his wife Rachel gave him two sons, and one went out and was surely torn to pieces by a wild animal. So he never saw him after that. He said if his last son left and something happened to him, he would go with his gray hair, grieving to the grave.
“So you can see what will happen if we return without the young man. Our father loves him so much that he will die when he sees that he’s not with us. We will bring the gray hair of our father with sorrow to the grave.
King James
Genesis 41:45 And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaphnathpaaneah; and he gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On. And Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt.
Genesis 44:18–31 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. 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. 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: And the one went out from me, and I said, Surely he is torn in pieces; and I saw him not since: 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; 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.

Long ago, the brothers had faced their father with the terrible news of Joseph’s fate. How did that experience affect their feeling of facing their father without Benjamin?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Genesis 44:32–34 “I guaranteed the young man’s safety, saying he could blame me for the rest of my life. Therefore, I beg you to take me as you slave and let the young man go home with his brothers. How can I face my father if he is not with me? I cannot bear to see my father die grieving.”
King James
Genesis 44:32–34 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. 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.