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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 44

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

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 he commanded the steward. The design of putting the cup into the sack of Benjamin was obviously to Bring that young man into a situation of difficulty or danger, in order thereby to discover how far the brotherly feelings of the rest would be roused to sympathize with his distress, and stimulate their exertions in procuring his deliverance. But for what purpose was the money restored? It was done, in the first instance, from kindly feelings to his father; but another and further design seems to have been, the prevention of any injurious impressions as to the character of Benjamin. The discovery of the cup in his possession, if there had been nothing else to judge by, might have fastened a painful suspicion of guilt on the youngest brother; but the sight of the money in each man's sack would lead all to the same conclusion, that Benjamin was just as innocent as themselves, although the additional circumstance of the cup being found in his sack would bring him into greater trouble and danger.

Verse 2

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.

My cup, the silver cup, [ gªbiya` (H1375); Septuagint, Kondu (Jeremiah 35:5)] - it was a large goblet, as the original denotes, highly valued by its owner, on account of its costly material, or its elegant finish, and which, being special to Egypt, had probably graced his table at the sumptuous entertainment of the previous day.

Verse 3

As soon as the morning was light, the men were sent away, they and their asses.

As soon as the morning ... the men were sent away. They commenced their homeward journey at early dawn (see the note at Genesis 18:2), and, it may be readily supposed, in high spirits, after so happy an issue from all their troubles and anxieties.

Verse 4

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?

When ... gone out of the city ... Joseph said unto his steward. They were brought to a sudden halt by the stunning intelligence that an article of rare value was amissing from the governor's house. It was a silver cup; so strong suspicions were entertained against them, that a special messenger was despatched to search them.

Verse 5

Is not this it in which my lord drinketh, and whereby indeed he divineth? ye have done evil in so doing.

Is not this it - not only kept for the governor's personal use, but whereby he divineth. Divination by cups, to ascertain the course of futurity, was one of the prevalent superstitious of ancient Egypt, as it still is in some Eastern countries. Bunsen says, 'Clairvoyance (the so-called magnetic sight) and prophesying in the ecstatic state, were of remote antiquity among the Jews and their neighbours; and Joseph, a man of a waking spirit, who, as a growing youth, possessed a natural gift of second sight, was able as man to see visions in his cup, just as the Arab boy in Cairo still sees them in his bowl' ('God in History'). It is not likely that Joseph, a pious believer in the true God, would have addicted himself to this superstitious practice, so prevalent in Egypt ('Jamblicus,' part 3:, sec. 14; Norden's 'Travels,' vol. 3:, p. 68; Hengstenberg's 'Egypt and Books of Moses,' pp. 38,9). But he might have availed himself of that popular notion to carry out the successful execution of his stratagem for the last decisive trial of his brethren. The device of Joseph was the more natural, that the ancient Egyptians were notoriously addicted to theft (Herodotus, book 2:, chapter 121; Aul. Gellius, 11: 18; Diodorus 1: 80.).

Verses 6-7

And he overtook them, and he spake unto them these same words.

He overtook them, and ... spake ... these ... words. The intelligence must have come upon them like a thunderbolt; and one of their most predominant feelings must have been the humiliating and galling sense of being made so often objects of suspicion. Protesting their innocence, they invited a search. The challenge was accepted. Beginning with the oldest, every sack was examined; and the cup being found in Benjamin's sack, they all returned with an indescribable agony of mind to the house of the governor, throwing themselves at his feet, with the remarkable confession: "God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants!"

Verses 8-15

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?

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 16

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 ... What shall we say? This address needs no comment. Consisting at first of short, broken sentences, as if, under the overwhelming force of the speaker's emotions, his utterance were choked, it becomes more free and copious by the effort of speaking, as he proceeds. Every word finds its way to the heart; and it may well be imagined that Benjamin, who stood there speechless, like a victim about to be laid on the altar, when he heard the magnanimous offer of Judah to submit to slavery for his ransom, would be bound by a lifelong gratitude to his generous brother-a tie that seems to have become hereditary in his tribe.

Verses 17-31

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 JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 32

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.

Thy servant became surety for the lad unto my father. In addressing superiors, the Hebrews were accustomed to call themselves servants. "Thy servant," in this passage, stands for I; and hence, the pronominal adjective, my father, occurs in the latter part of it. Joseph's behaviour must not be viewed from any single point, or in separate parts, but as a whole-the development of a well-thought, deeplaid, closely-connected plan; and though some features of it do certainly exhibit an appearance of harshness, yet the pervading principle of his conduct was real, genuine, brotherly kindness. Read in this light, the narrative of the proceedings describes the continuous though secret pursuit of one end; and Joseph discovers, in his management of the scheme, a very high order of intellect-a warm and susceptible heart, united to a judgment that exerted a complete control over his feelings-a happy invention in devising means toward the attainment of his ends, and an inflexible adherence to the course, however painful, which prudence required.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Genesis 44". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/genesis-44.html. 1871-8.
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