Genesis 44:4
And when they were gone out of the city, and not yet far off, Joseph said to his steward, Up, follow after the men; and when you do overtake them, say to them, Why have you rewarded evil for good?
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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.And my cup. - Besides returning each man's money as before, a silver cup of Joseph's is put in Benjamin's bag, after which, when daylight comes, they are dismissed. They are scarcely out of the town when Joseph's steward is ordered to overtake them, and charge them with stealing the cup. "And whereby indeed he divineth." Divining by cups, we learn from this, was a common custom in Egypt (Herodotus ii. 83). It is here mentioned to enhance the value of the cup. Whether Joseph really practised any sort of divination cannot be determined from this passage.4. When they were gone out of the city … Joseph said unto his steward—They were brought to a sudden halt by the stunning intelligence that an article of rare value was missing from the governor's house. It was a silver cup; so strong suspicions were entertained against them that a special messenger was despatched to search them. No text from Poole on this verse. And when they were gone out of the city, and not yet far off,.... Which perhaps was Tanis, the Zoan of the Scriptures; see Ezekiel 30:14, margin:

Joseph said unto his steward, up, follow after the men; who no doubt was ready provided with men and horses, to go out and pursue when Joseph should give the orders, he being privy to Joseph's intentions, and with whom the scheme was concerted, and the secret was. Joseph appears to have been up very early this morning, and had observed the exact time of his brethren's departure, and guessed whereabouts they might be when he sent his steward, and others after them; for it can hardly be thought he was sent alone after eleven men, and to charge them with a theft, and bring them back again:

and when thou dost overtake them, say unto them, wherefore have ye rewarded evil for good? in taking away the silver cup, when they had been so kindly and bountifully entertained. This he was to represent as base ingratitude, as it would have appeared, had it been fact. In much such manner was Esop used by the inhabitants of Delphos; they, being displeased with him, put a sacred cup or vial into his bags, which he, being ignorant of, went on his way towards Phocis; and they ran after him, and seized him, and charged him with sacrilege (h).

(h) Scholia ad Vespes Aristophanis, p. 534. Ed. Genev. 1607.

And when they were gone out of the city, and not yet far off, Joseph said unto his steward, Up, follow after the men; and when thou dost overtake them, say unto them, Wherefore have ye rewarded evil for good?
4. the city] The name of the city is most unfortunately not given. Memphis would be suitable: cf. Genesis 45:10. The moment of the men’s arrest is well timed. Everything had gone off well. They had got their corn; they had been acquitted of any complicity in the return of the money; they had been hospitably treated by the “lord”; they were well on their way homeward.

Wherefore have ye rewarded] The guilt of Joseph’s brethren is presented in an ascending scale of enormity: (1) it was theft; (2) by guests from their host’s table; (3) of an article of special sanctity. The LXX, in order to supply the connexion between Genesis 44:4-5, inserts at the end of Genesis 44:4, Ἵνα τί ἐκλέψατέ μου τὸ κόνδυ τὸ ἀργυροῦν; = “Wherefore have ye stolen my silver cup?”Separate tables were prepared for him, for his brethren, and for the Egyptians who dined with them. This was required by the Egyptian spirit of caste, which neither allowed Joseph, as minister of state and a member of the priestly order, to eat along with Egyptians who were below him, nor the latter along with the Hebrews as foreigners. "They cannot (i.e., may not) eat (cf. Deuteronomy 12:17; Deuteronomy 16:5; Deuteronomy 17:15). For this was an abomination to the Egyptians." The Hebrews and others, for example, slaughtered and ate animals, even female animals, which were regarded by the Egyptians as sacred; so that, according to Herod. ii. 41, no Egyptian would use the knife, or fork, or saucepan of a Greek, nor would any eat of the flesh of a clean animal which had been cut up with a Grecian knife (cf. Exodus 8:22).
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