Genesis 44


‘Now Joseph gave these instructions to the steward of his house: ‘Fill the men’s sacks with as much food as they can carry and put each man’s silver in the mouth of his sack. Then put my cup, the silver one, in the mouth of the youngest one’s sack, along with the silver for his grain.’ And he did as Joseph said. As morning dawned, the men were sent on their way with their donkeys. They had not gone far from the city when Joseph said to his steward, ‘Go after those men at once, and when you catch up with them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid good with evil? Isn’t this the cup my master drinks from and also uses for divination? This is a wicked thing you have done.’ When he caught up with them, he repeated these words to them. But they said to him, ‘Why does my lord say such things? Far be it from your servants to do anything like that! We even brought back to you from the land of Canaan the silver we found inside the mouths of our sacks. So why would we steal silver or gold from your master’s house? If any of your servants is found to have it, he will die; and the rest of us will become my lord’s slaves.’ ‘Very well, then,’ he said, ‘let it be as you say. Whoever is found to have it will become my slave; the rest of you will be free from blame.’ Each of them quickly lowered his sack to the ground and opened it. Then the steward proceeded to search, beginning with the oldest and ending with the youngest. And the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. At this, they tore their clothes. Then they all loaded their donkeys and returned to the city.’ Genesis 44:1-13

Joseph comes up with a deceitful plan which will eventually lead to his father, Jacob being brought to Egypt.

It’s possible that Joseph is teaching his brothers a lesson here which they would never forget but I don’t believe that this is a vengeful act of behalf of Joseph because he seems to have moved on from what his brothers did, remember the meaning of his first son, Manasseh, which means, forget.

He understands that he wouldn’t be in the blessed position he now finds himself in, if his brothers hadn’t sold him into slavery, Genesis 37:28. He understands that it was God who wanted him in Egypt, and He used his brothers joyously to get him there.

Why did Joseph arrange this plan?

It’s commonly accepted that Joseph was trying to find out if his brother’s hearts had actually changed, he wanted to find out if they still hated him after all these years. With this plot he would soon discover if they would leave Benjamin in Egypt, which in turn would demonstrate if they really did care about their father, Jacob who was in great distress at the time, Genesis 42:38 / Genesis 43:14.

Joseph had obviously spoken to and trusted his steward in all of this, because the steward gave permission for all the brothers except Benjamin to return to Canaan. Notice the steward mentions that this silver cup was a cup which Joseph used for ‘divination’.

Knowing the character of Joseph, I personally don’t believe he practiced ‘divination’ but was trying to portray to his brothers that he did, it was all a part of the facade until he eventually revealed himself to his brothers.

It’s not surprising that when the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack, all the brothers denied knowing anything about it. They once again, came to the conclusion that God was punishing them for their sinful behaviour towards Joseph, Genesis 42:21-22.

Credit must be given to Joseph’s brothers here for thinking about their father’s needs more than their own, as they didn’t want to leave without Benjamin. They tore their clothes and went back to the city face any consequences which may occur.

‘Joseph was still in the house when Judah and his brothers came in, and they threw themselves to the ground before him. Joseph said to them, ‘What is this you have done? Don’t you know that a man like me can find things out by divination?’ ‘What can we say to my lord?’ Judah replied. ‘What can we say? How can we prove our innocence? God has uncovered your servants’ guilt. We are now my lord’s slaves—we ourselves and the one who was found to have the cup.’ But Joseph said, ‘Far be it from me to do such a thing! Only the man who was found to have the cup will become my slave. The rest of you, go back to your father in peace.’ Genesis 44:14-17

It’s clear that Joseph’s brothers are in shock about finding the silver cup in Benjamin’s sack and to their credit they offer themselves as slave as a consequence. Joseph at this point, knowing their innocence, and as part of his plan, but more importantly, God’s plan, to eventually get his father, Jacob into Egypt, he offers them a way out and that by simply saying that the brothers could leave but they must leave Benjamin behind.

The brothers believe that all this is happening because of their sin and they recognise that they can’t hide sin from God because He sees and knows all things, Proverbs 28:13 / Isaiah 29:15 / Hebrews 4:13.

‘Then Judah went up to him and said: ‘Pardon your servant, my lord, let me speak a word to my lord. Do not be angry with your servant, though you are equal to Pharaoh himself. My lord asked his servants, ‘Do you have a father or a brother?’ And we answered, ‘We have an aged father, and there is a young son born to him in his old age. His brother is dead, and he is the only one of his mother’s sons left, and his father loves him.’ ‘Then you said to your servants, ‘Bring him down to me so I can see him for myself.’ And we said to my lord, ‘The boy cannot leave his father; if he leaves him, his father will die.’ But you told your servants, ‘Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you will not see my face again.’ When we went back to your servant my father, we told him what my lord had said. ‘Then our father said, ‘Go back and buy a little more food.’ But we said, ‘We cannot go down. Only if our youngest brother is with us will we go. We cannot see the man’s face unless our youngest brother is with us.’ ‘Your servant my father said to us, ‘You know that my wife bore me two sons. One of them went away from me, and I said, ‘He has surely been torn to pieces.” And I have not seen him since. If you take this one from me too and harm comes to him, you will bring my grey head down to the grave in misery.’ ‘So now, if the boy is not with us when I go back to your servant my father, and if my father, whose life is closely bound up with the boy’s life, sees that the boy isn’t there, he will die. Your servants will bring the grey head of our father down to the grave in sorrow. Your servant guaranteed the boy’s safety to my father. I said, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, I will bear the blame before you, my father, all my life!’ ‘Now then, please let your servant remain here as my lord’s slave in place of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers. How can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? No! Do not let me see the misery that would come on my father.’ Genesis 44:18-34

We must admire Judah’s heartfelt honesty here as he confesses their sins and pleads for mercy. He explains what had happened with their father, Jacob, for Benjamin to be able to come to Egypt.

His pleas and pours his heart out to Joseph, remember that none of his brothers recognise him as Joseph yet, and tells him their father would die if they didn’t take Benjamin home to him.

He pours his heart out again, in open confession and tells Joseph everything about their sin concerning Jacob’s other son, Joseph, who, out of jealously and hatred had sold him into slavery around twenty-two years ago. In Judah’s mind, he was pleading for mercy to an unmerciful ruler and even offered himself as a slave, to the very person that he was part of selling as a slave many years before.

He was willing to give himself for his brother and so, there’s no denying that Judah was indeed, a changed man, as were his brothers.

We know that Joseph’s brothers don’t resent Benjamin, Genesis 43:34, and we know from this chapter that they trust each other, Genesis 44:9, they stick together, Genesis 44:13, they humble for the sake of Benjamin, Genesis 44:14, they have remembered their sin and now feel guilt, Genesis 44:16, they offer themselves as slaves not abandoning Benjamin, Genesis 44:16, they show concern for their father, Genesis 44:29-31, and Judah offers himself as a sacrifice, Genesis 44:33.

We can only imagine the weight which has been removed from their shoulders as they confess their sins openly, all those years of carry that guilt and shame would be removed from them at that point, Psalm 51:1-5 / James 5:16 / 1 John 1:9 / 1 John 2:1-2, and they are happy to face the consequences of their actions.

If we learn anything from this chapter, it’s surely the attitude of Judah, yes, Joseph was the ruler of Egypt but Judah stood up as a real leader amongst his brothers, and is blessed, even to this day by having his name honoured by God for eternity, through whom the Messiah would eventually come, Genesis 49:8-12 / Matthew 1:2 / Luke 3:30 / Hebrews 7:14 / Revelation 5:5 / Revelation 7:5.

Go To Genesis 45



"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."

1 John 1:9