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Barnes' Notes on the Bible
1And 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 my cup. - Besides returning each man's money as before, a silver cup of Joseph's is put in Benjamin's bag, after which, when daylight comes, they are dismissed. They are scarcely out of the town when Joseph's steward is ordered to overtake them, and charge them with stealing the cup. "And whereby indeed he divineth." Divining by cups, we learn from this, was a common custom in Egypt (Herodotus ii. 83). It is here mentioned to enhance the value of the cup. Whether Joseph really practised any sort of divination cannot be determined from this passage.
2And 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.
3As soon as the morning was light, the men were sent away, they and their asses.
4And 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?
5Is not this it in which my lord drinketh, and whereby indeed he divineth? ye have done evil in so doing.
6And he overtook them, and he spake unto them these same words.
The cup is found in Benjamin's bag. "Spake unto them these words." The words of Joseph, supplying of course the mention of the cup which is expressed in the text only by the pronoun this. "We brought back to thee." Silver that we might have retained, and to which you made no claim when we tendered it, we brought back. How or why should we therefore, steal silver? "Now also according to your words let it be." He adopts their terms with a mitigation. He with whom the cup is found shall become a slave for life, and the rest be acquitted. The steward searches from the oldest to the youngest. The cup is found where it was put.
7And they said unto him, Wherefore saith my lord these words? God forbid that thy servants should do according to this thing:
8Behold, 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?
9With whomsoever of thy servants it be found, both let him die, and we also will be my lord's bondmen.
10And 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.
11Then they speedily took down every man his sack to the ground, and opened every man his sack.
12And he searched, and began at the eldest, and left at the youngest: and the cup was found in Benjamin's sack.
13Then they rent their clothes, and laded every man his ass, and returned to the city.
"They rent their garments;" the natural token of a sorrow that knows no remedy. "And Judah went." He had pledged himself for the safety of Benjamin to his father. And he was yet there; awaiting no doubt the result which he anticipated. "They fell before him on the earth." It is no longer a bending of the head or bowing of the body, but the posture of deepest humiliation. How deeply that early dream penetrated into the stern reality! "Wot ye not that such a man as I doth certainly divine?" Joseph keeps up the show of resentment for a little longer, and brings out from Judah the most pathetic plea of its kind that ever was uttered. "The God," the great and only God, "hath found out the iniquity of thy servants;" in our dark and treacherous dealing with our brother. "Behold, we are servants to my lord." He resigns himself and all to perpetual bondage, as the doom of a just God upon their still-remembered crime. "He shall be my servant; and ye, go up in peace to your father." Now is the test applied with the nicest adjustment. Now is the moment of agony and suspense to Joseph. Will my brothers prove true? says he within himself. Will Judah prove adequate to the occasion? say we. His pleading with his father augured well.
"And Judah came near unto him." He is going to surrender himself as a slave for life, that Benjamin may go home with his brothers, who are permitted to depart. "Let thy servant now speak a word in the ears of my lord." There is nothing here but respectful calmness of demeanor. "And let not thine anger burn against thy servant." He intuitively feels that the grand vizier is a man of like feelings with himself. He will surmount the distinction of rank, and stand with him on the ground of a common humanity. "For so art thou as Pharaoh." Thou hast power to grant or withhold my request. This forms, the exordium of the speech. Then follows the plea. This consists in a simple statement of the facts, which Judah expects to have its native effect upon a rightly-constituted heart. We will not touch this statement, except to explain two or three expressions. A young lad - a comparative youth. "Let me set mine eyes upon him" - regard him with favor and kindness. "He shall leave his father and he shall die." If he were to leave his father, his father would die. Such is the natural interpretation of these words, as the paternal affection is generally stronger than the filial. "And now let thy servant now abide instead of the lad a servant to my lord." Such is the humble and earnest petition of Judah. He calmly and firmly sacrifices home, family, and birthright, rather than see an aged father die of a broken heart.
- Joseph Made Himself Known to His Brethren
10. גשׁן gôshen, Goshen, Gesem (Arabias related perhaps to גשׁם geshem "rain, shower"), a region on the borders of Egypt and Arabia, near the gulf of Suez.
The appeal of Judah is to Joseph irresistible. The repentance of his brothers, and their attachment to Benjamin, have been demonstrated in the most satisfactory manner. This is all that Joseph sought. It is evident, throughout the whole narrative, that he never aimed at exercising any supremacy over his brothers. As soon as he has obtained an affecting proof of the right disposition of his brothers, he conceals himself no longer. And the speech of Judah, in which, no doubt, his brothers concurred, does equal credit to his head and heart.
14And Judah and his brethren came to Joseph's house; for he was yet there: and they fell before him on the ground.
15And Joseph said unto them, What deed is this that ye have done? wot ye not that such a man as I can certainly divine?
16And 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.
17And 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.
18Then 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.
19My lord asked his servants, saying, Have ye a father, or a brother?
20And 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.
21And thou saidst unto thy servants, Bring him down unto me, that I may set mine eyes upon him.
22And we said unto my lord, The lad cannot leave his father: for if he should leave his father, his father would die.
23And thou saidst unto thy servants, Except your youngest brother come down with you, ye shall see my face no more.
24And it came to pass when we came up unto thy servant my father, we told him the words of my lord.
25And our father said, Go again, and buy us a little food.
26And 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.
27And thy servant my father said unto us, Ye know that my wife bare me two sons:
28And the one went out from me, and I said, Surely he is torn in pieces; and I saw him not since:
29And if ye take this also from me, and mischief befall him, ye shall bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.
30Now 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;
31It 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.
32For 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.
33Now 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.
34For 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.