Joseph sets up his brothers by giving them back their money along with their corn and he puts a silver cup in Benjamin’s sack. He then sends his steward out to follow them and accuse them of stealing. The brothers say – we didn’t steal anything, but if our servants did, you can do what you like with them. So the sacks are searched and of course the silver cup is in Benjamin’s sack. They are taken back to Joseph’s house and Joseph says that Benjamin shall stay with him, but that they rest can go. Judah begs for Joseph to let Benjamin go because if he doesn’t return home with him, their father will surely die of grief, especially since his other son (Joseph) is dead.
In other words:
Joseph sets his brothers up so that Benjamin will be left behind with him. The other brothers, specifically Judah plead with Joseph to let their brother go.
(Genesis 44:17-34) The special pleading about just how badly their father Jacob/Israel will take the loss of another son, please please pretty please have mercy on the old man!
Joseph is really rather shrewd setting up his brothers like that and I can’t help thinking about how much of an idiot his brother Judah is. Every time Judah’s name comes up I think back to Genesis 38 where he gets schooled by his daughter in law. Literally.
What I like about this entire chapter:
I like that everyone in it is fully human. They are motivated, scared, nervous, loving, dutiful and more. As much as Joseph might dislike his brothers for leaving him to die and then selling him off as a slave, we are made to feel sorry for them here. They aren’t horrid ogres, they are just flawed humans, like everyone else.
Everyone you meet is human. Treat them with compassion. (Genesis 44)