As soon as the morning was light, the men were sent away, they and their asses.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)As soon as the morning was light, the men were sent away, they and their asses.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Verses 3-5. - As soon as the morning was light (literally, the morning became bright), the men (literally, and the men) were sent away, they and their asses. That Joseph did not make himself known to his brothers at the repast was not due to unnatural callousness which caused his heart to remain cold and steeled (Kalisch), or to a fear lest he should thereby destroy the character of his mission which made him the medium of retribution for his brothers (Kalisch), but to the fact that in his judgment either his brothers had not been sufficiently tested, or the time did not appear convenient for the disclosure of his secret. And when they were gone out of the city (literally, they went forth out of the city), and not yet far off (literally, they had not gone far), Joseph (literally, and Joseph) said unto his steward (or man over his house), Up, follow after the men; and when thou dost overtake them, say unto them (literally, and overtake them, and say to them), Wherefore have ye rewarded evil for good? The interpolation at this point of the words, "Why did you steal my silver goblet?" (LXX., Vulgate, Syriac) is superfluous. Is not this it in which my lord drinketh, and whereby indeed he divineth? - literally, and divining he divineth, or maketh trial, in it, the verb נָחַשׁ (from which is derived nachash, a serpent: vide Genesis 3:1) originally signifying to hiss or whisper, and hence to mutter incantations, to practice ophiomancy, and generally to divine. The special form of divination here referred to (κυλικομαντεία, or divining out of cups) was practiced by the ancient Egyptians (Hengstenberg's 'Egypt and the Books of Moses,' p. 39). "Small pieces of gold or silver, together with precious stones, marked with strange figures and signs, were thrown into the vessel; after which certain incantations were pronounced, and the evil demon was invoked; the latter was then supposed to give the answer either by intelligible words, or by pointing to some of the characters on the precious stones, or in some other more mysterious manner. Sometimes the goblet was filled with pure water, upon which the sun was allowed to play; and the figures which were thus formed, or which a lively imagination fancied it saw, were interpreted as the desired omen" (Kalisch). Traces of this ancient practice of soothsaying have been detected by some writers in the magnificent vase of turquoise belonging to Jam-shoed, the Solomon of Persia. Like Merlin's cup, described by Spenser ('Faery Queens,' 3:2, 19) -
"It vertue had to show in perfect sight
Whatever thing was in the world contained
Betwixt the lowest earth and heven's hight,
So that it to the looker appertaynd." A similar account is given by Homer of the cup of Nestor; and Alexander the Great is reported to have possessed a mystic goblet of a like kind. It is said that in the storming of Seringapatam the unfortunate Tippeo Saib retired to gaze on his divining cup, and that after standing awhile absorbed in it he returned to the fight and fell (vide Kitto's 'Cyclopedia,' art. Divination). Ye have done evil in so doing.
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