God’s Renewing Word of Mercy and Forgiveness
Genesis 44:1-17: Joseph instructs his servant to conceal his silver cup in Benjamin’s sack. When the cup is found, Joseph tells his brothers that Benjamin will become his slave.
15 So the brothers took the gifts and twice as much money, and set out for Egypt with Benjamin. There they presented themselves to Joseph. 16 When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the servant in charge of his house, “Take these men to my house. They are going to eat with me at noon, so kill an animal and prepare it.” 17 The servant did as he was commanded and took the brothers to Joseph’s house.
18 As they were being brought to the house, they were afraid and thought, “We are being brought here because of the money that was returned in our sacks the first time. They will suddenly attack us, take our donkeys, and make us his slaves.” 19 So at the door of the house, they said to the servant in charge, 20 “If you please, sir, we came here once before to buy food. 21 When we set up camp on the way home, we opened our sacks, and each man found his money in the top of his sack—every bit of it. We have brought it back to you. 22 We have also brought some more money with us to buy more food. We do not know who put our money back in our sacks.”
23 The servant said, “Don’t worry. Don’t be afraid. Your God, the God of your father, must have put the money in your sacks for you. I received your payment.” Then he brought Simeon to them.
The Missing Cup
44 Joseph commanded the servant in charge of his house, “Fill the men’s sacks with as much food as they can carry, and put each man’s money in the top of his sack. 2 Put my silver cup in the top of the youngest brother’s sack, together with the money for his grain.” He did as he was told. 3 Early in the morning the brothers were sent on their way with their donkeys. 4 When they had gone only a short distance from the city, Joseph said to the servant in charge of his house, “Hurry after those men. When you catch up with them, ask them, ‘Why have you paid back evil for good? 5 Why did you steal my master’s silver cup? It is the one he drinks from, the one he uses for divination. You have committed a serious crime!’”
6 When the servant caught up with them, he repeated these words. 7 They answered him, “What do you mean, sir, by talking like this? We swear that we have done no such thing. 8 You know that we brought back to you from the land of Canaan the money we found in the top of our sacks. Why then should we steal silver or gold from your master’s house? 9 Sir, if any one of us is found to have it, he will be put to death, and the rest of us will become your slaves.”
10 He said, “I agree; but only the one who has taken the cup will become my slave, and the rest of you can go free.” 11 So they quickly lowered their sacks to the ground, and each man opened his sack. 12 Joseph’s servant searched carefully, beginning with the oldest and ending with the youngest, and the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. 13 The brothers tore their clothes in sorrow, loaded their donkeys, and returned to the city.
14 When Judah and his brothers came to Joseph’s house, he was still there. They bowed down before him, 15 and Joseph said, “What have you done? Didn’t you know that a man in my position could find you out by practicing divination?”
16 “What can we say to you, sir?” Judah answered. “How can we argue? How can we clear ourselves? God has uncovered our guilt. All of us are now your slaves and not just the one with whom the cup was found.”
17 Joseph said, “Oh, no! I would never do that! Only the one who had the cup will be my slave. The rest of you may go back safe and sound to your father.”
Today’s Key Verse: Genesis 44:2a
[Joseph said:] “Put my silver cup in the top of the youngest brother’s sack, together with the money for his grain.”
Joseph instructs his servant to accuse the brothers of committing the serious crime of taking Joseph’s silver cup, claiming that the cup was used to practice divination, that is, telling future events by reading objects that are put into liquid in the cup. What was Joseph’s purpose in planting the cup in Benjamin’s sack?
Loving God, I come into your presence, trusting in your mercy and grace. You know my thoughts and what is in my heart this day. In faith I turn my cares over to you, knowing that with you all things are possible. In your holy name, I pray. Amen.
Genesis 44:18-34: Judah pleads for Benjamin.