Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Genesis 44:10-13 Thief?

In their indignation at being falsely accused by Joseph's steward of taking his  master's silver cup from his house, Joseph's brothers had spoken rashly.  They declared that anyone found with the cup would be put to death and that the rest of them would become Joseph's slaves.

Shrewdly, the steward, who was in on at least part of Joseph's plan, pretended to hear a significantly different message:

" 'Very well, then,' he said, 'Let it be as you say.  Whoever is found to have it will become my slave; the rest of you will be free from blame.'

Each of them quickly lowered his sack to the ground and opened it.  Then the steward proceeded to search, beginning with the oldest and ending with the youngest.  And the cup was found in Benjamin's sack.  At this, they tore their clothes.  Then they all loaded their donkeys and returned to the city."  (Genesis 44:10-13 NIV)

Can you imagine the horror on the brothers' faces as they realized that the cup had been found in Benjamin's sack?  They probably didn't know what to think.  They had been so confident that none of them was a thief, yet now the cup had been found in their youngest brother's possession.  Had he taken it?  Had they been set up?  Was God punishing them for their past sins against Joseph?

I am not sure what the brothers were thinking, but no doubt one thought which kept returning to their minds was the fact that they would have to tell their father that they had not been able to protect the last of his deceased wife Rachel's sons.  No wonder they tore their clothes.  This was a sign of great distress.

Remarkably, although the steward had said that only the thief would be enslaved, the whole group of brothers troop back to Joseph's house.  Perhaps because they are older now, probably most with children of their own, they take a much more responsible attitude toward Benjamin's predicament than they had taken with Joseph.  

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