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Genesis 44:7-16

Context
44:7 They answered him, “Why does my lord say such things? 1  Far be it from your servants to do such a thing! 2  44:8 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? 44:9 If one of us has it, 3  he will die, and the rest of us will become my lord’s slaves!”

44:10 He replied, “You have suggested your own punishment! 4  The one who has it will become my slave, 5  but the rest of 6  you will go free.” 7  44:11 So each man quickly lowered 8  his sack to the ground and opened it. 44:12 Then the man 9  searched. He began with the oldest and finished with the youngest. The cup was found in Benjamin’s sack! 44:13 They all tore their clothes! Then each man loaded his donkey, and they returned to the city.

44:14 So Judah and his brothers 10  came back to Joseph’s house. He was still there, 11  and they threw themselves to the ground before him. 44:15 Joseph said to them, “What did you think you were doing? 12  Don’t you know that a man like me can find out things like this by divination?” 13 

44:16 Judah replied, “What can we say 14  to my lord? What can we speak? How can we clear ourselves? 15  God has exposed the sin of your servants! 16  We are now my lord’s slaves, we and the one in whose possession the cup was found.”

1 tn Heb “Why does my lord speak according to these words?”

2 tn Heb “according to this thing.”

3 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.

4 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.

5 tn Heb “The one with whom it is found will become my slave.”

6 tn The words “the rest of” have been supplied in the translation for clarification and for stylistic reasons.

7 tn The Hebrew word נָקִי (naqi) means “acquitted,” that is, free of guilt and the responsibility for it.

sn 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.

8 tn Heb “and they hurried and they lowered.” Their speed in doing this shows their presumption of innocence.

9 tn Heb “and he”; the referent (the man who was in charge of Joseph’s household) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

10 sn Judah and his brothers. The narrative is already beginning to bring Judah to the forefront.

11 tn The disjunctive clause here provides supplemental information.

12 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?”

13 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.

14 tn The imperfect verbal form here indicates the subject’s potential.

15 tn The Hitpael form of the verb צָדֵק (tsadeq) here means “to prove ourselves just, to declare ourselves righteous, to prove our innocence.”

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.



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