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The Final Test

44 He instructed the servant who was over his household, “Fill the sacks of the men with as much food as they can carry and put each man’s money in the mouth of his sack. Then put[a] my cup—the silver cup—in the mouth of the youngest one’s sack, along with the money for his grain.” He did as Joseph instructed.[b]

When morning came,[c] the men and their donkeys were sent off.[d] They had not gone very far from the city[e] when Joseph said[f] to the servant who was over his household, “Pursue the men at once![g] When you overtake[h] them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid good with evil? Doesn’t my master drink from this cup[i] and use it for divination?[j] You have done wrong!’”[k]

When the man[l] overtook them, he spoke these words to them. They answered him, “Why does my lord say such things?[m] Far be it from your servants to do such a thing![n] Look, the money that we found in the mouths of our sacks we brought back to you from the land of Canaan. Why then would we steal silver or gold from your master’s house? If one of us has it,[o] he will die, and the rest of us will become my lord’s slaves!”

10 He replied, “You have suggested your own punishment![p] The one who has it will become my slave,[q] but the rest of[r] you will go free.”[s] 11 So each man quickly lowered[t] his sack to the ground and opened it. 12 Then the man[u] searched. He began with the oldest and finished with the youngest. The cup was found in Benjamin’s sack! 13 They all tore their clothes! Then each man loaded his donkey, and they returned to the city.

14 So Judah and his brothers[v] came back to Joseph’s house. He was still there,[w] and they threw themselves to the ground before him. 15 Joseph said to them, “What did you think you were doing?[x] Don’t you know that a man like me can find out things like this by divination?”[y]

16 Judah replied, “What can we say[z] to my lord? What can we speak? How can we clear ourselves?[aa] God has exposed the sin of your servants![ab] We are now my lord’s slaves, we and the one in whose possession the cup was found.”

17 But Joseph said, “Far be it from me to do this! The man in whose hand the cup was found will become my slave, but the rest of[ac] you may go back[ad] to your father in peace.”

18 Then Judah approached him and said, “My lord, please allow your servant to speak a word with you.[ae] Please do not get angry with your servant,[af] for you are just like Pharaoh.[ag] 19 My lord asked his servants, ‘Do you have a father or a brother?’ 20 We said to my lord, ‘We have an aged father, and there is a young boy who was born when our father was old.[ah] The boy’s[ai] brother is dead. He is the only one of his mother’s sons left,[aj] and his father loves him.’

21 “Then you told your servants, ‘Bring him down to me so I can see[ak] him.’[al] 22 We said to my lord, ‘The boy cannot leave his father. If he leaves his father, his father[am] will die.’[an] 23 But you said to your servants, ‘If your youngest brother does not come down with you, you will not see my face again.’ 24 When we returned to your servant my father, we told him the words of my lord.

25 “Then our father said, ‘Go back and buy us a little food.’ 26 But we replied, ‘We cannot go down there.[ao] If our youngest brother is with us, then we will go,[ap] for we won’t be permitted to see the man’s face if our youngest brother is not with us.’

27 “Then your servant my father said to us, ‘You know that my wife gave me two sons.[aq] 28 The first disappeared[ar] and I said, “He has surely been torn to pieces.” I have not seen him since. 29 If you take[as] this one from me too and an accident happens to him, then you will bring down my gray hair[at] in tragedy[au] to the grave.’[av]

30 “So now, when I return to your servant my father, and the boy is not with us—his very life is bound up in his son’s life.[aw] 31 When he sees the boy is not with us,[ax] he will die, and your servants will bring down the gray hair of your servant our father in sorrow to the grave. 32 Indeed,[ay] your servant pledged security for the boy with my father, saying, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, then I will bear the blame before my father all my life.’

33 “So now, please let your servant remain as my lord’s slave instead of the boy. As for the boy, let him go back with his brothers. 34 For how can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? I couldn’t bear to see[az] my father’s pain.”[ba]

The Reconciliation of the Brothers

45 Joseph was no longer able to control himself before all his attendants,[bb] so he cried out, “Make everyone go out from my presence!” No one remained[bc] with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. He wept loudly;[bd] the Egyptians heard it and Pharaoh’s household heard about it.[be]

Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?” His brothers could not answer him because they were dumbfounded before him. Joseph said to his brothers, “Come closer to me,” so they came near. Then he said, “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. Now, do not be upset and do not be angry with yourselves because you sold me here,[bf] for God sent me[bg] ahead of you to preserve life! For these past two years there has been famine in[bh] the land and for five more years there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. God sent me[bi] ahead of you to preserve you[bj] on the earth and to save your lives[bk] by a great deliverance. So now, it is not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me an adviser[bl] to Pharaoh, lord over all his household, and ruler over all the land of Egypt. Now go up to my father quickly[bm] and tell him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: “God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; do not delay! 10 You will live[bn] in the land of Goshen, and you will be near me—you, your children, your grandchildren, your flocks, your herds, and everything you have. 11 I will provide you with food[bo] there because there will be five more years of famine. Otherwise you would become poor—you, your household, and everyone who belongs to you.”’ 12 You and my brother Benjamin can certainly see with your own eyes that I really am the one who speaks to you.[bp] 13 So tell[bq] my father about all my honor in Egypt and about everything you have seen. But bring my father down here quickly!”[br]

14 Then he threw himself on the neck of his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin wept on his neck. 15 He kissed all his brothers and wept over them. After this his brothers talked with him.

16 Now it was reported[bs] in the household of Pharaoh, “Joseph’s brothers have arrived.” It pleased[bt] Pharaoh and his servants. 17 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Say to your brothers, ‘Do this: Load your animals and go[bu] to the land of Canaan! 18 Get your father and your households and come to me! Then I will give you[bv] the best land in Egypt and you will eat[bw] the best[bx] of the land.’ 19 You are also commanded to say,[by] ‘Do this: Take for yourselves wagons from the land of Egypt for your little ones and for your wives. Bring your father and come. 20 Don’t worry[bz] about your belongings, for the best of all the land of Egypt will be yours.’”

21 So the sons of Israel did as he said.[ca] Joseph gave them wagons as Pharaoh had instructed,[cb] and he gave them provisions for the journey. 22 He gave sets of clothes to each one of them,[cc] but to Benjamin he gave 300 pieces of silver and five sets of clothes.[cd] 23 To his father he sent the following:[ce] ten donkeys loaded with the best products of Egypt and ten female donkeys loaded with grain, food, and provisions for his father’s journey. 24 Then he sent his brothers on their way and they left. He said to them, “As you travel don’t be overcome with fear.”[cf]

25 So they went up from Egypt and came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan.[cg] 26 They told him, “Joseph is still alive and he is ruler over all the land of Egypt!” Jacob was stunned,[ch] for he did not believe them. 27 But when they related to him everything Joseph had said to them,[ci] and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to transport him, their father Jacob’s spirit revived. 28 Then Israel said, “Enough! My son Joseph is still alive! I will go and see him before I die.”


  1. Genesis 44:2 tn The imperfect verbal form is used here to express Joseph’s instructions.
  2. Genesis 44:2 tn Heb “and he did according to the word of Joseph which he spoke.”
  3. Genesis 44:3 tn Heb “the morning was light.”
  4. Genesis 44:3 tn Heb “and the men were sent off, they and their donkeys.” This clause, like the preceding one, has the subject before the verb, indicating synchronic action.
  5. Genesis 44:4 tn Heb “they left the city, they were not far,” meaning “they had not gone very far.”
  6. Genesis 44:4 tn Heb “and Joseph said.” This clause, like the first one in the verse, has the subject before the verb, indicating synchronic action.
  7. Genesis 44:4 tn Heb “arise, chase after the men.” The first imperative gives the command a sense of urgency.
  8. Genesis 44:4 tn After the imperative this perfect verbal form with vav consecutive has the same nuance of instruction. In the translation it is subordinated to the verbal form that follows (also a perfect with vav consecutive): “and overtake them and say,” becomes “when you overtake them, say.”
  9. Genesis 44:5 tn Heb “Is this not what my master drinks from.” The word “cup” is not in the Hebrew text, but is obviously the referent of “this,” and so has been supplied in the translation for clarity.
  10. Genesis 44:5 tn Heb “and he, divining, divines with it.” The infinitive absolute is emphatic, stressing the importance of the cup to Joseph.
  11. Genesis 44:5 tn Heb “you have caused to be evil what you have done.”
  12. Genesis 44:6 tn Heb “and he”; the referent (the man who was in charge of Joseph’s household) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  13. Genesis 44:7 tn Heb “Why does my lord speak according to these words?”
  14. Genesis 44:7 tn Heb “according to this thing.”
  15. Genesis 44:9 tn Heb “The one with whom it is found from your servants.” Here “your servants” (a deferential way of referring to the brothers themselves) has been translated by the pronoun “us” to avoid confusion with Joseph’s servants.
  16. Genesis 44:10 tn Heb “Also now, according to your words, so it is.” As the next statement indicates, this does mean that he will do exactly as they say. He does agree with them the culprit should be punished, but not as harshly as they suggest. Furthermore, the innocent parties will not be punished.
  17. Genesis 44:10 tn Heb “The one with whom it is found will become my slave.”
  18. Genesis 44:10 tn The words “the rest of” have been supplied in the translation for clarification and for stylistic reasons.
  19. Genesis 44:10 tn The Hebrew word נָקִי (naqi) means “acquitted,” that is, free of guilt and the responsibility for The rest of you will be free. Joseph’s purpose was to single out Benjamin to see if the brothers would abandon him as they had abandoned Joseph. He wanted to see if they had changed.
  20. Genesis 44:11 tn Heb “and they hurried and they lowered.” Their speed in doing this shows their presumption of innocence.
  21. Genesis 44:12 tn Heb “and he”; the referent (the man who was in charge of Joseph’s household) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  22. Genesis 44:14 sn Judah and his brothers. The narrative is already beginning to bring Judah to the forefront.
  23. Genesis 44:14 tn The disjunctive clause here provides supplemental information.
  24. Genesis 44:15 tn Heb “What is this deed you have done?” The demonstrative pronoun (“this”) adds emphasis to the question. A literal translation seems to contradict the following statement, in which Joseph affirms that he is able to divine such matters. Thus here the emotive force of the question has been reflected in the translation, “What did you think you were doing?”
  25. Genesis 44:15 tn Heb “[is] fully able to divine,” meaning that he can find things out by divination. The infinitive absolute appears before the finite verb for emphasis, stressing his ability to do this.
  26. Genesis 44:16 tn The imperfect verbal form here indicates the subject’s potential.
  27. Genesis 44:16 tn The Hitpael form of the verb צָדֵק (tsadeq) here means “to prove ourselves just, to declare ourselves righteous, to prove our innocence.”
  28. Genesis 44:16 sn God has exposed the sin of your servants. The first three questions are rhetorical; Judah is stating that there is nothing they can say to clear themselves. He therefore must conclude that they have been found guilty.
  29. Genesis 44:17 tn The words “the rest of” have been supplied in the translation for clarification and for stylistic reasons.
  30. Genesis 44:17 tn Heb “up” (reflecting directions from their point of view—“up” to Canaan; “down” to Egypt).
  31. Genesis 44:18 tn Heb “Please my lord, let your servant speak a word into the ears of my lord.”
  32. Genesis 44:18 tn Heb “and let not your anger burn against your servant.”
  33. Genesis 44:18 sn You are just like Pharaoh. Judah’s speech begins with the fear and trembling of one who stands condemned. Joseph has as much power as Pharaoh, either to condemn or to pardon. Judah will make his appeal, wording his speech in such a way as to appeal to Joseph’s compassion for the father, whom he mentions no less than fourteen times in the speech.
  34. Genesis 44:20 tn Heb “and a small boy of old age,” meaning that he was born when his father was elderly.
  35. Genesis 44:20 tn Heb “his”; the referent (the boy just mentioned) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  36. Genesis 44:20 tn Heb “he, only he, to his mother is left.”
  37. Genesis 44:21 tn The cohortative after the imperative indicates purpose here.
  38. Genesis 44:21 tn Heb “that I may set my eyes upon him.”
  39. Genesis 44:22 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the boy’s father, i.e., Jacob) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  40. Genesis 44:22 tn The last two verbs are perfect tenses with vav consecutive. The first is subordinated to the second as a conditional clause.
  41. Genesis 44:26 tn The direct object is not specified in the Hebrew text, but is implied; “there” is supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.
  42. Genesis 44:26 tn Heb “go down.”
  43. Genesis 44:27 tn Heb “that two sons my wife bore to me.”
  44. Genesis 44:28 tn Heb “went forth from me.”
  45. Genesis 44:29 tn The construction uses a perfect verbal form with the vav consecutive to introduce the conditional clause and then another perfect verbal form with a vav consecutive to complete the sentence: “if you take…then you will bring down.”
  46. Genesis 44:29 sn The expression bring down my gray hair is figurative, using a part for the whole—they would put Jacob in the grave. But the gray head signifies a long life of worry and trouble. See Gen 42:38.
  47. Genesis 44:29 tn Heb “evil/calamity.” The term is different than the one used in the otherwise identical statement recorded in v. 31 (see also 42:38).
  48. Genesis 44:29 tn Heb “to Sheol,” the dwelling place of the dead.
  49. Genesis 44:30 tn Heb “his life is bound up in his life.”
  50. Genesis 44:31 tn Heb “when he sees that there is no boy.”
  51. Genesis 44:32 tn Or “for.”
  52. Genesis 44:34 tn The Hebrew text has “lest I see,” which expresses a negative purpose—“I cannot go up lest I see.”
  53. Genesis 44:34 tn Heb “the calamity which would find my father.”
  54. Genesis 45:1 tn Heb “all the ones standing beside him.”
  55. Genesis 45:1 tn Heb “stood.”
  56. Genesis 45:2 tn Heb “and he gave his voice in weeping,” meaning that Joseph could not restrain himself and wept out loud.
  57. Genesis 45:2 tn Heb “and the Egyptians heard and the household of Pharaoh heard.” Presumably in the latter case this was by means of a report.
  58. Genesis 45:5 tn Heb “let there not be anger in your eyes.”
  59. Genesis 45:5 sn You sold me here, for God sent me. The tension remains as to how the brothers’ wickedness and God’s intentions work together. Clearly God is able to transform the actions of wickedness to bring about some gracious end. But this is saying more than that; it is saying that from the beginning it was God who sent Joseph here. Although harmonization of these ideas remains humanly impossible, the divine intention is what should be the focus. Only that will enable reconciliation.
  60. Genesis 45:6 tn Heb “the famine [has been] in the midst of.”
  61. Genesis 45:7 sn God sent me. The repetition of this theme that God sent Joseph is reminiscent of commission narratives in which the leader could announce that God sent him (e.g., Exod 3:15).
  62. Genesis 45:7 tn Heb “to make you a remnant.” The verb, followed here by the preposition ל (lamed), means “to make.”
  63. Genesis 45:7 tn The infinitive gives a second purpose for God’s action.
  64. Genesis 45:8 tn Heb “a father.” The term is used here figuratively of one who gives advice, as a father would to his children.
  65. Genesis 45:9 tn Heb “hurry and go up.”
  66. Genesis 45:10 tn The perfect verbal form with vav consecutive here expresses instruction.
  67. Genesis 45:11 tn The verb כּוּל (kul) in the Pilpel stem means “to nourish, to support, to sustain.” As in 1 Kgs 20:27, it here means “to supply with food.”
  68. Genesis 45:12 tn Heb “And, look, your eyes see and the eyes of my brother Benjamin, that my mouth is the one speaking to you.”
  69. Genesis 45:13 tn The perfect verbal form with the vav consecutive here expresses instruction.
  70. Genesis 45:13 tn Heb “and hurry and bring down my father to here.”
  71. Genesis 45:16 tn Heb “and the sound was heard.”
  72. Genesis 45:16 tn Heb “was good in the eyes of.”
  73. Genesis 45:17 tn Heb “and go! Enter!”
  74. Genesis 45:18 tn After the imperatives in vv. 17-18a, the cohortative with vav indicates result.
  75. Genesis 45:18 tn After the cohortative the imperative with vav states the ultimate goal.
  76. Genesis 45:18 tn Heb “fat.”
  77. Genesis 45:19 tn The words “to say” have been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.
  78. Genesis 45:20 tn Heb “let not your eye regard.”
  79. Genesis 45:21 tn Heb “and the sons of Israel did so.”
  80. Genesis 45:21 tn Heb “according to the mouth of Pharaoh.”
  81. Genesis 45:22 tn Heb “to all of them he gave, to each one, changes of outer garments.”
  82. Genesis 45:22 tn Heb “changes of outer garments.”
  83. Genesis 45:23 tn Heb “according to this.”
  84. Genesis 45:24 tn Heb “do not be stirred up in the way.” The verb means “stir up.” Some understand the Hebrew verb רָגָז (ragaz, “to stir up”) as a reference to quarreling (see Prov 29:9, where it has this connotation), but in Exod 15:14 and other passages it means “to fear.” This might refer to a fear of robbers, but more likely it is an assuring word that they need not be fearful about returning to Egypt. They might have thought that once Jacob was in Egypt, Joseph would take his revenge on them.
  85. Genesis 45:25 tn Heb “and they entered the land of Canaan to their father.”
  86. Genesis 45:26 tn Heb “and his heart was numb.” Jacob was stunned by the unbelievable news and was unable to respond.
  87. Genesis 45:27 tn Heb “and they spoke to him all the words of Joseph which he had spoke to them.”