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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible

Genesis 44

 

 

Verses 1-34

BENJAMIN ACCUSED WRONGFULLY

The wisdom of Joseph is seen now in such a way as to lead his brothers to repentance without accusing them. He instructed his steward to fill the brothers' sacks with food and again restore their money to them in their sacks (v.1). but as well as this he tells him to put his own (Joseph's) silver cup into the mouth of the sack of Benjamin. The next morning they were on their way, no doubt rejoicing that this time everything had gone so well.

However, this relief was short lived, for Joseph had told his steward to overtake them and accuse them of returning evil for good in stealing Joseph's silver cup (vs.4-5). Of course such an accusation was a shock to the brothers. They protested that they would not think of such a thing. The fact that they brought the money back after having found it in their sacks was surely proof that they were not thieves (vs.7-8). They are so confident of this that they say if one was found to have the silver cup he should die and the rest would be slaves to Joseph (v.9)

The steward approved of their words, but was much more lenient in answering them. Of course Joseph had instructed him. He tells them that the guilty one would be kept as a slave to Joseph and the rest could go free. The search began at the eldest, finishing with the youngest, in whose sack the silver cup was found (v.12). What a shock to them all! What a traumatic experience for Benjamin who knew himself innocent!

The brothers knew they could not leave Benjamin and go home under these circumstances. Heavy-hearted they return to the city, where Joseph was still in his house. Again they bow down to him. Joseph asks them, "What is this deed that you have done? Do you not know that such a man as I can practice divination?" (v.15).

JUDAH'S BROKEN CONFESSION

It is not Reuben, the eldest, who speaks to Joseph, but Judah, the one who had been leader in selling Joseph as a slave. He does not plead any difference whatever. In fact, though he had not been personally guilty of stealing the cup, yet he realizes that God was in this way reminding him of their previous guilt in selling Joseph. He tells the governor therefore, "God has found out the iniquity of your servants." In fact, he does not condemn Benjamin and justify himself, but takes his place with Benjamin and his brothers in a willingness to accept the place of slaves to Joseph (v.16).

However, Joseph answers that he would not require the brothers to be slaves, but would keep only Benjamin as a slave while allowing the others to return home to their father. Joseph knew of his father's affection for Benjamin and that the very mention of their father now would devastate the brothers in having to return to him without Benjamin. Judah in particular had made himself surety for Benjamin, so he found himself in a dreadful predicament. What could he do now but plead for consideration from the governor?

He came near to Joseph, as Israel will yet eventually come near to the Lord Jesus without realizing who He is. He entreats Joseph not to be angry at his further speaking to him, "for," he says, "you are equal to Pharaoh" (v.18). So indeed in a coming day Israel will confess that Christ is equal to God. Judah recounts the experience of meeting the governor at first, and Joseph's asking them if they had a father or a brother, and their answer to the effect that their father was still alive and had a younger son, the only remaining son of his mother, for her only other son was dead (not exactly a convincing statement so far as Joseph was concerned!).

Judah reminds him that they protested before that their father was so attached to Benjamin that would not think of letting him leave, but that Joseph had firmly insisted that if Benjamin did not come, Joseph would refuse to see them (vs.21-23). Therefore when Jacob again urged the brothers to go to Egypt to buy food, they told him they could not go unless Benjamin was with them. Their father has responded to this that his wife Rachel had borne him two sons and first had never returned when he left home, and Jacob considered him to have been killed by wild beasts. He was therefore all the more jealous concerning his younger son and said, "if you take this from me and harm befalls him, you will bring my grey hair down to sheol in sorrow" (v.29).

Judah pleads then with Joseph that if he comes back to Jacob without Benjamin the trauma for his father would be so great that he would die, since as he says, "his life is bound up in the lad's life" (vs.30-31). More than this, Judah tells Joseph that he had become surety for his brother to his father, offering to bear the entire blame himself if he did not bring Benjamin back (v.32).

The last words of Judah to Joseph are refreshing in the way they reach the root of the whole matter. For he asks Joseph to allow him to take the place of Benjamin as a slave and that Benjamin be allowed to return to his father (v.33). What a contrast to the way Judah had before treated his younger brother Joseph! This was the end that Joseph had been seeking, to see in Judah a genuine repentance that was willing to suffer as he had made his brother suffer. This is the repentance that is seen in the thief who was crucified with the Lord Jesus. He said that he and the other thief deserved the punishment they received (Luke 23:41).

The last matter would speak to Joseph's heart was Judah's changed attitude toward his father (v.34). Judah now was deeply concerned that his father would be utterly grief stricken if Bemjamin did not return.

Thus too, when Israel goes through the great tribulation, the sovereign grace of God will work in many hearts to bring them to have real concern for their promised Messiah (Benjamin) and concern for the living God whom they had before dishonored in the rejection of His Son. This work will have begun in their hearts before they ever realize that Jesus whom they rejected (Joseph) is actually their true Messiah.

 


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Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Genesis 44:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/genesis-44.html. 1897-1910.

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