|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
44:1-17 Joseph tried how his brethren felt towards Benjamin. Had they envied and hated the other son of Rachel as they had hated him, and if they had the same want of feeling towards their father Jacob as heretofore, they would now have shown it. When the cup was found upon Benjamin, they would have a pretext for leaving him to be a slave. But we cannot judge what men are now, by what they have been formerly; nor what they will do, by what they have done. The steward charged them with being ungrateful, rewarding evil for good; with folly, in taking away the cup of daily use, which would soon be missed, and diligent search made for it; for so it may be read, Is not this it in which my lord drinketh, as having a particular fondness for it, and for which he would search thoroughly? Or, By which, leaving it carelessly at your table, he would make trial whether you were honest men or not? They throw themselves upon Joseph's mercy, and acknowledge the righteousness of God, perhaps thinking of the injury they had formerly done to Joseph, for which they thought God was now reckoning with them. Even in afflictions wherein we believe ourselves wronged by men, we must own that God is righteous, and finds out our sin.
Verses 14-17. - And Judah - who is recognized as the leader in this second embassy to Egypt (Genesis 43:8) - and his brethren came to Joseph's house; for he was yet there: - "awaiting, no doubt, the result which he anticipated" (Murphy) - and they fell before him on the ground. The expression indicates a complete prostration of the body. It was a token of their penitence, and a sign that they craved his forgiveness. And Joseph said unto them, - in a speech not of "cruel and haughty irony" (Kalisch), but simply of assumed resentment - What deed is this that we have done! were ye not (or, did you not know?) that such a man as I can certainly divine? - literally, divining can divine (vide on ver. 5). Though Joseph uses this language, and is represented by his steward as possessing a divining cup, there is no reason to suppose that he was in the habit of practicing this heathen superstition. And Judah said (acting throughout this scene as the spokesman of his brethren), What shall we say unto my lord? What shall we speak? or how shall we clear ourselves? (i.e. justify ourselves, or purge ourselves from suspicion). God (literally, the Elohim) hath found out the iniquity of thy servants: behold, we are my lord's servants (literally, servants to my lord), both we, and he also with whom the cup is found. And he (i.e. Joseph) said, God forbid that I should do so (vide ver. 9): 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. Thus they were once more tested as to whether they could, as before, callously deliver up their father's favorite, and so bring down the gray hairs of their father to the grave, or would heroically and self-sacrificingly offer their own lives and liberties for his protection (Rosenmüller, Keil, Lange, Murphy, and others). How nobly they stood the test Judah's pathetic supplication reveals.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And Judah and his brethren came to Joseph's house,.... Judah is particularly mentioned because he was the principal spokesman, and was chiefly concerned for the safety of Benjamin, being his surety:
for he was yet there; Joseph was yet at his own house, was not as yet gone to the granaries, to look after the affairs of the corn, and the sale and distribution of it, but was waiting for the return of his brethren, which he expected quickly:
and they fell before him on the ground; not only in a way of reverence, again fulfilling his dream, but as persons in the utmost distress and affliction, throwing themselves at his feet for mercy.
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