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Tuesday, October 3rd, 2023
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26
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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 44

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy BiblePoole's Annotations



Joseph commands his steward to fill their sacks, restore every man's money, and put his silver cup into Benjamin's sack; sends them away, Genesis 44:1-3; thereby contriving to bring them back again: they are pursued, and charged with theft, Genesis 44:4-6; whereat, being greatly perplexed, they ignorantly make themselves liable to punishment, Genesis 44:7-10.

The cup is found in Benjamin's sack; they return to Joseph, submitting to his censure, Genesis 44:11-14.

Joseph pretends the gift of prophecy, Genesis 44:15.

Judah speaks much and earnestly on Benjamin's behalf, offering to remain in his stead, Genesis 44:16-34.

Verse 2

It seems to have been a large cup, and of great price, and much used by Joseph.

In the sack’s mouth of the youngest, with design to discover their intentions and affections towards Benjamin, whether they did envy him, and would desert him in his danger, as they did Joseph; or would cleave to him; that hence he might take his measures how to deal with him and them.

Verse 5

Amongst the several kinds of divination in use among the Egyptians and other heathens, this was one, to do it by a cup or bason, which they filled with water, and put in them plates of silver, or precious stones, in which certain characters were engraven, by which, and some words they used, they called upon the devil, who gave them answer. Joseph did not use this course, nor was a diviner, but the people thought him such a one, and the steward might represent him as such, for the better covering or carrying on his design. But this sense agrees not with Genesis 44:15, Wot you not, & c. Which words show that he speaks of something which they all might easily know; but they did not know that Joseph was a diviner, much less that he divined by that cup, whereas that kind of divination was generally performed by a glass, not by a cup. Others observe, that the Hebrew word ofttimes signifies not to divine, but only to observe and discover a thing, as Genesis 30:27; 1 Kings 20:33, and render the place thus, whereby he will certainly observe or discover, to wit, what you are and do. But this also seems not to consist with Genesis 44:15, and the supplement is too large and remote. The true sense then is this, the Hebrew bo is not to be rendered by which, but concerning which, as the particle beth is oft used, and it notes not the instrument whereby, but the object about which, he did divine, and the words must be rendered, concerning which he can or would certainly divine. And this agrees well with Genesis 44:15; q.d. Did you think you could deceive my master? Did not you and all others know that he could divine, and discover secret things, whence he had both his name and preferment? And this cup being much prized and used by him, you might easily judge that he would use his art to recover it.

Ye have done evil, i.e. very evil, unjustly, unthankfully, and foolishly.

Verse 8

It is not probable that we who restored that which was in our power to keep, and to conceal without any danger, should steal that which was likely to be discovered with so much shame and hazard to ourselves.

Verse 9

This overdaring offer proceeded from hence, that they were all conscious of their own innocency, and did not suspect any fraud or artifice in the matter.

Verse 10

Thus he moderates the conditions which they proposed, exempting the innocent, and exchanging the deserved and offered death of the nocent into slavery.

Verse 12

Began at the eldest, to take off all their suspicion of his fraud.

The cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. He found doubtless the money there, but he accused them not about that matter, both because they had an answer ready to that charge from his own mouth, Genesis 43:23, and because the greater crime, the stealing of the cup which Joseph so much prized and used, might seem to extinguish the less, or at least cause him to neglect it.

Verse 13

Being afraid and ashamed to go to their father without Benjamin, concerning whom they had received so severe a charge, and made such solemn promises and imprecations.

Verse 16

Judah speaks in the cause, as being one of the eldest, and a person of most gravity and discretion, and readiness of speech, and most eminently concerned for his brother.

God hath found out the iniquity, viz. this iniquity, of which it seems some of us are guilty, and God hath discovered it. Or iniquity may be put for iniquities; whether we are guilty of this fact or not, we are certainly guilty of many other sins, for which God is now punishing us, to whose providence we therefore willingly submit.

Verse 18

Judah made a little nearer approach to him, that he might present his humble petition to him.

In my lord’s ears, in thy hearing; for this phrase doth not necessarily imply that he whispered in his ears; as appears from Numbers 14:28; Deuteronomy 32:44; Judges 17:2.

Thou art even as Pharaoh; as thou representest his person, so thou art invested with his majesty and authority, and therefore thy word is a law; thou canst do with us what thou pleasest, either spare or punish us, and therefore we do justly deprecate thine anger, and most humbly entreat thy favourable audience and princely compassion to us.

Verse 20

A little one; so they call him comparatively to themselves, who were much elder; and withal, to signify the reason why he came, not with them, because he was young and tender, and unfit for such a journey.

Verse 21

i.e. See him with my own eyes, and thereby be satisfied of the truth of what you say. Compare Genesis 42:15,Genesis 42:16. Elsewhere this phrase signifies to show favour to a person, as Jeremiah 39:12; Jeremiah 40:4. But though that was Joseph’s intention, as yet he was minded to conceal it from them.

Verse 23


Why would Joseph expose his father to the hazard of his life, in parting with his dear child?

Answ. Joseph supposed that to be but a pretence, and might fear lest his brethren had disposed of Benjamin as they did of him, and therefore could not bring him forth. And as for his father, the experience which he had of his continuance in life and health after the supposed untimely death of Joseph, gave him good assurance that his parting with Benjamin for a season, and that under the care and charge of his brethren, was not likely to make any dangerous impression upon him.

Verse 27

He calleth her

my wife, by way of eminency, as Genesis 46:19, because she only was his wife by design and choice, whereas Leah was put upon him by fraud, and might have been refused by him, if he had so pleased; and the other two were given to him by Rachel and Leah.

Verse 30

The death of the child, which upon this occasion he will firmly believe, will unavoidably procure his death also.

Verse 33

Partly in compassion to our aged father, and partly for thy own advantage; because I can be more serviceable to thee than he, because of my greater strength and experience.

Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Genesis 44". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mpc/genesis-44.html. 1685.
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