Genesis 44:12
And he searched, and began at the oldest, and left at the youngest: and the cup was found in Benjamin's sack.
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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]. Began at the eldest, to take off all their suspicion of his fraud.

The cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. He found doubtless the money there, but he accused them not about that matter, both because they had an answer ready to that charge from his own mouth, Genesis 43:23, and because the greater crime, the stealing of the cup which Joseph so much prized and used, might seem to extinguish the less, or at least cause him to neglect it. And he searched,.... To the bottom of them, not content to look into the mouth of them being opened, but rummaged them, and searched deeply into them to find the cup, which was the thing charged upon them he was solicitous to find; as for the money in the sack's mouth he took no notice of that, nor is there any mention of it:

and began at the oldest; at Reuben, as the Targum of Jonathan expresses it: the steward might know their different ages in course, by the order in which they were placed at Joseph's table when they dined with him:

and left off at the youngest; at Benjamin, he ended his scrutiny with him; this method he took partly to hold them in fear as long as he could, and partly to prevent any suspicion of design, which might have been entertained had he went directly to Benjamin's sack:

and the cup was found in Benjamin's sack; where the steward himself had put it, and as it is usually said, they that hide can find.

And he searched, and began at the eldest, and left at the youngest: and the cup was found in Benjamin's sack.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
12. searched] There is no mention of the money in the sacks’ mouths (Genesis 44:1). The interest centres on the cup. That the search is made in order of age is a dramatic touch adding to the excitement of the scene described, and probably carried out by the directions of Joseph himself, as if it might be assumed that the youngest was the least likely to be the thief. Cf. Genesis 43:33.Then as soon as it was light (אור, 3rd pers. perf. in o: Ges. 72, 1), they were sent away with their asses. But they were hardly outside the town, "not far off," when he directed his steward to follow the men, and as soon as he overtook them, to say, "Wherefore have ye rewarded evil for good? Is it not this from which my lord drinketh, and he is accustomed to prophesy from it? Ye have done an evil deed!" By these words they were accused of theft; the thing was taken for granted as well known to them all, and the goblet purloined was simply described as a very valuable possession of Joseph's. נחשׁ: lit., to whisper, to mumble out formularies, incantations, then to prophesy, divinare. According to this, the Egyptians at that time practised λεκανοσκοπίη or λεκανομαντεία and ὑδρομαντεία, the plate and water incantations, of which Jamblichus speaks (de myst. iii. 14), and which consisted in pouring clean water into a goblet, and then looking into the water for representations of future events; or in pouring water into a goblet or dish, dropping in pieces of gold and silver, also precious stones, and then observing and interpreting the appearances in the water (cf. Varro apud August. civ. Dei 7, 35; Plin. h. n. 37, 73; Strabo, xvi. p. 762). Traces of this have been continued even to our own day (see Norden's Journey through Egypt and Nubia). But we cannot infer with certainty from this, that Joseph actually adopted this superstitious practice. The intention of the statement may simply have been to represent the goblet as a sacred vessel, and Joseph as acquainted with the most secret things (Genesis 44:15).
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