16 “What can we say to my lord?” Judah replied. “How can we plead? How can we justify ourselves? God has exposed your servants’ iniquity. We are now my lord’s slaves—both we and the one in whose possession the cup was found.”

17 Then Joseph said, “I swear that I will not do this. The man in whose possession the cup was found will be my slave. The rest of you can go in peace to your father.”

Judah’s Plea for Benjamin

18 But Judah approached him and said, “Sir, please let your servant speak personally to my lord.[a] Do not be angry with your servant, for you are like Pharaoh.(A) 19 My lord asked his servants, ‘Do you have a father or a brother?’ 20 and we answered my lord, ‘We have an elderly father and a younger brother, the child of his old age.(B) The boy’s brother is dead. He is the only one of his mother’s sons left, and his father loves him.’ 21 Then you said to your servants, ‘Bring him to me so that I can see him.’(C) 22 But we said to my lord, ‘The boy cannot leave his father. If he were to leave, his father would die.’ 23 Then you said to your servants, ‘If your younger brother does not come down with you, you will not see me again.’(D)

24 “This is what happened when we went back to your servant my father: We reported your words to him. 25 But our father said, ‘Go again, and buy us some food.’(E) 26 We told him, ‘We cannot go down unless our younger brother goes with us. So if our younger brother isn’t with us, we cannot see the man.’ 27 Your servant my father said to us, ‘You know that my wife bore me two sons. 28 One left—I said that he must have been torn to pieces—and I have never seen him again.(F) 29 If you also take this one from me and anything happens to him, you will bring my gray hairs down to Sheol in sorrow.’(G)

30 “So if I come to your servant my father and the boy is not with us—his life is wrapped up with the boy’s life— 31 when he sees that the boy is not with us, he will die. Then your servants will have brought the gray hairs of your servant our father down to Sheol in sorrow. 32 Your servant became accountable to my father for the boy, saying, ‘If I do not return him to you, I will always bear the guilt for sinning against you, my father.’(H) 33 Now please let your servant remain here as my lord’s slave, in place of the boy. Let him go back with his brothers. 34 For how can I go back to my father without the boy? I could not bear to see the grief that would overwhelm my father.”

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Footnotes

  1. Genesis 44:18 Lit speak a word in my lord’s ears

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