EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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.
The cup is found in Benjamin's bag. "Spake unto them these words." The words of Joseph, supplying of course the mention of the cup which is expressed in the text only by the pronoun this. "We brought back to thee." Silver that we might have retained, and to which you made no claim when we tendered it, we brought back. How or why should we therefore, steal silver? "Now also according to your words let it be." He adopts their terms with a mitigation. He with whom the cup is found shall become a slave for life, and the rest be acquitted. The steward searches from the oldest to the youngest. The cup is found where it was put.
6, 7. he overtook them, and he spake … these words—The steward's words must have come upon them like a thunderbolt, and one of their most predominant feelings must have been the humiliating and galling sense of being made so often objects of suspicion. Protesting their innocence, they invited a search. The challenge was accepted [Ge 44:10, 11]. Beginning with the eldest, every sack was examined, and the cup being found in Benjamin's [Ge 44:12], they all returned in an indescribable agony of mind to the house of the governor [Ge 44:13], throwing themselves at his feet [Ge 44:14], with the remarkable confession, "God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants" [Ge 44:16].
Thus he moderates the conditions which they proposed, exempting the innocent, and exchanging the deserved and offered death of the nocent into slavery.
And he said, now also let it be according unto your words,.... Not according to the full extent of their words, but according to a part of them; that be only should be a servant that was found guilty; so moderating the punishment which they had fixed, and were willing to submit to, and therefore could not object to what he next proposes:
he with whom it is found shall be my servant; speaking in the name of Joseph, whom he represented, and who had directed him what to say:
and ye shall be blameless; acquitted of the charge, and pronounced innocent, and let go free. And he said, Now also let it be according unto your words: he with whom it is found shall be my servant; and ye shall be blameless.