The Life of Joseph - Lesson 28, Continuing the Life of Joseph in Egypt.
Genesis 44:11-14, Then they speedily took down every man his sack to the ground, and opened every man his sack. And he searched, and began at the eldest, and left at the youngest: and the cup was found in Benjamin's sack. Then they rent their clothes, and laded every man his ass, and returned to the city. And Judah and his brethren came to Joseph's house; for he was yet there: and they fell before him on the ground. And Joseph said unto them, What deed is this that ye have done? wot ye not that such a man as I can certainly divine?
So one by one the brothers, starting from Reuben, then Simeon, then Levi and Judah, followed by Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, and Zebulun opened each man his sack and was relieved to simply find corn or grain.
Everything looked promising.
Surely Benjamin would certainly pass the test.
But disappointment upon disappointment came upon them when the cup was found in Benjamin's sack so that they rent or tore their clothes.
Again Joseph had placed them in a place of great stress and confusion.
But this did not cause them to fail Benjamin as they did their brother Joseph.
They: laded every man his ass, and returned to the city :fully prepared to suffer with him instead of fleeing from him.
Their hearts were full of fear while not knowing that they were in the midst of Joseph's test.
And Judah and his brethren came to Joseph's house; for he was yet there: and they fell before him on the ground. And Joseph said unto them, What deed is this that ye have done? wot ye not that such a man as I can certainly divine?
Joseph plants a seed in his brother's minds.
Don't you know that such a man as I, can certainly foresee.
He indicates he may have powers given to him of God to discover and to bring out the iniquity of these men.
Genesis 44:16, 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.
We see here Judah's continuing leadership of his brothers.
He comes to the forefront and admits that God, by Joseph, has found out the iniquity of himself and his brothers.
In this subtle way Judah is tying his sin and their sin against Joseph so long agoa to what is befalling them in this day.
He admits that all these things that have befallen them are from the hand of God and they deserve to be made into servants and as such to be placed in bondage.
So they are not willing to let one fall alone as they were Joseph, but now they will all fall together.
One for all and all for one!
But Joseph, not yet ready to conclude the test, says in:
Genesis 44:17, 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.
But Joseph retorts to their attempt at unity.
God forbid that all of you should be my servant.
I won't allow the innocent to pay for the sins of the guilty.
I will only take for a servant the man in whose hand the cup is found.
No, the rest of you return in peace unto your father.
Isn't that what they had done after they had seen their brother Joseph sold into slavery?
They attempted to return in peace unto their father.
No, you just have to leave Benjamin for he is the malefactor.
So Joseph attempts to put a wedge between his brothers and Benjamin to see if they are committed to their decision to support Benjamin.
Are they simply interested in saving their own skin?
This is where the rubber hits the road.
This is where the nit hits the grit!
This is the time of decision for Joseph's brothers.
What loyalty were they to have to this one who was constantly favored by their father and now favored by this Egyptian prince?
By this favoritism their father had placed them and their families in jeopardy by delaying their return to Egypt for food.
What allegiance were they expected to have to this favorite son that may even result in the destruction of their own sons and daughters?
Joseph has put his brothers in a straight.
What will they do with Benjamin?
Genesis 44:18-34, Then Judah came near unto him, and said, Oh my lord, let thy servant, I pray thee, speak a word in my lord's ears, and let not thine anger burn against thy servant: for thou art even as Pharaoh.
Again Judah comes to the fore.
Judah takes the position as spokesman for the sons of Jacob.
Notice how Judah comes near Joseph.
He does not stand afar off but he intends to make an impression upon this mysterious prince and he comes near to do it.
He is about to make this a personal appeal to this prince with the power of the Pharaoh.
Judah humbles himself before him as his servant.
He beseeches him to listen to his plea, recognizing that as Pharaoh's second in command he has power to shut Judah's mouth.
But he also knows that he is a prince who has power to extend grace.
For Judah is their asking for grace!
My lord asked his servants, saying, Have ye a father, or a brother? And we said unto my lord, We have a father, an old man, and a child of his old age, a little one; and his brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother, and his father loveth him.
You asked questions of us and we told you in truth, answers to your questions.
We withheld nothing from you.
We did not come to you with guile!
And thou saidst unto thy servants, Bring him down unto me, that I may set mine eyes upon him. And we said unto my lord, The lad cannot leave his father: for if he should leave his father, his father would die. And thou saidst unto thy servants, Except your youngest brother come down with you, ye shall see my face no more. And it came to pass when we came up unto thy servant my father, we told him the words of my lord. And our father said, Go again, and buy us a little food. And we said, We cannot go down: if our youngest brother be with us, then will we go down: for we may not see the man's face, except our youngest brother be with us. And thy servant my father said unto us, Ye know that my wife bare me two sons: And the one went out from me, and I said, Surely he is torn in pieces; and I saw him not since: And if ye take this also from me, and mischief befall him, ye shall bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.
For the first time Joseph hears of the agony that his father suffered from the loss of Joseph; how Jacob could not be comforted.
Judah carefully reminds Joseph of Joseph's actions concerning his dealings with his brothers and in doing shows his sincerity and lack of guile.
He also accepts his father's favoritism of Benjamin by saying Jacob's life is bound up in the lad's life.
No more jealousy of Benjamin, but an understanding of his father's love for his little brother.
An acceptance of Jacob's tenderness toward his remaining son of Rachel.
And he then pleads for mercy for his brother Benjamin on behalf of his Father's life and in respect for his father's advanced age.
Now therefore when I come to thy servant my father, and the lad be not with us; seeing that his life is bound up in the lad's life; It shall come to pass, when he seeth that the lad is not with us, that he will die: and thy servants shall bring down the gray hairs of thy servant our father with sorrow to the grave. 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.
And he does the astounding thing of offering to yield himself up to bondage instead of his brother Benjamin.
Going home without Benjamin is out of the question even if it means Judah's going into slavery.
He could not face his father without returning Benjamin.
He could not bear to see his father die in despondency.