King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Genesis 44

Joseph’s policy to stay his brethren, and try their affection for Benjamin. (1-17) Judah’s supplication to Joseph. (18-34)

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Joseph’s policy to stay his brethren, and try their affection for Benjamin

1 And he commanded the steward of his house, saying, Fill the men’s sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put every man’s money in his sack’s mouth.

2 And put my cup, the silver cup, in the sack’s mouth of the youngest, and his corn money. And he did according to the word that Joseph had spoken.

3 As soon as the morning was light, the men were sent away, they and their asses.

4 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?

5 Is not this it in which my lord drinketh, and whereby indeed he divineth? ye have done evil in so doing.

6 And he overtook them, and he spake unto them these same words.

7 And they said unto him, Wherefore saith my lord these words? God forbid that thy servants should do according to this thing:

8 Behold, the money, which we found in our sacks’ mouths, we brought again unto thee out of the land of Canaan: how then should we steal out of thy lord’s house silver or gold?

9 With whomsoever of thy servants it be found, both let him die, and we also will be my lord’s bondmen.

10 And he said, Now also let it be according unto your words: he with whom it is found shall be my servant; and ye shall be blameless.

11 Then they speedily took down every man his sack to the ground, and opened every man his sack.

12 And he searched, and began at the eldest, and left at the youngest: and the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack.

13 Then they rent their clothes, and laded every man his ass, and returned to the city.

14 And Judah and his brethren came to Joseph’s house; for he was yet there: and they fell before him on the ground.

15 And Joseph said unto them, What deed is this that ye have done? wot ye not that such a man as I can certainly divine?

16 And Judah said, What shall we say unto my lord? what shall we speak? or how shall we clear ourselves? God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants: behold, we are my lord’s servants, both we, and he also with whom the cup is found.

17 And he said, God forbid that I should do so: but the man in whose hand the cup is found, he shall be my servant; and as for you, get you up in peace unto your father.

Judah’s supplication to Joseph

18 Then Judah came near unto him, and said, Oh my lord, let thy servant, I pray thee, speak a word in my lord’s ears, and let not thine anger burn against thy servant: for thou art even as Pharaoh.

19 My lord asked his servants, saying, Have ye a father, or a brother?

20 And we said unto my lord, We have a father, an old man, and a child of his old age, a little one; and his brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother, and his father loveth him.

21 And thou saidst unto thy servants, Bring him down unto me, that I may set mine eyes upon him.

22 And we said unto my lord, The lad cannot leave his father: for if he should leave his father, his father would die.

23 And thou saidst unto thy servants, Except your youngest brother come down with you, ye shall see my face no more.

24 And it came to pass when we came up unto thy servant my father, we told him the words of my lord.

25 And our father said, Go again, and buy us a little food.

26 And we said, We cannot go down: if our youngest brother be with us, then will we go down: for we may not see the man’s face, except our youngest brother be with us.

27 And thy servant my father said unto us, Ye know that my wife bare me two sons:

28 And the one went out from me, and I said, Surely he is torn in pieces; and I saw him not since:

29 And if ye take this also from me, and mischief befall him, ye shall bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.

30 Now therefore when I come to thy servant my father, and the lad be not with us; seeing that his life is bound up in the lad’s life;

31 It shall come to pass, when he seeth that the lad is not with us, that he will die: and thy servants shall bring down the gray hairs of thy servant our father with sorrow to the grave.

32 For thy servant became surety for the lad unto my father, saying, If I bring him not unto thee, then I shall bear the blame to my father for ever.

33 Now therefore, I pray thee, let thy servant abide instead of the lad a bondman to my lord; and let the lad go up with his brethren.

34 For how shall I go up to my father, and the lad be not with me? lest peradventure I see the evil that shall come on my father.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 4. Pursue; escorted by a troop of horsemen, to prevent resistance. M.

Ver. 5. To divine. This was spoken by Joseph to his steward in jest; alluding to the notion of the people, who took him to be a diviner. Ch. — S. Tho. 2, 2, q. 195, a. 7. Heb. may be translated without attending to the points, “Is not this the cup, out of which my lord drinketh; and he has augured, or discovered, by it the evil which you have committed.” Pliny (xxx. 2.) mentions a method of divining, by means of water in a basin. C. — The Egyptians probably supposed that Joseph used some means to disclose what was hidden; and he alludes, in jest, to their foolish notion. H. — He had a right to afflict his guilty brethren; and as for Benjamin, who was innocent, he made him ample recompense for this transitory terror. Some think that the steward said, in which he is wont to divine, unauthorized by his master. M.

Ver. 10. Sentence. It is but just; yet I shall only insist on the detention of the culprit. C. — Joseph wished to see whether the marks of attention, which he had shewn to Benjamin, would have excited the envy of his brethren (M.); and whether they would be concerned for him: thus he would discover their present dispositions. He might wish also to keep his younger brother out of danger, in case they were inclined to persecute him. H.

Ver. 13. The town, with heavy hearts, of which their torn garments were signs (H.): yet they say not a word in condemnation of Benjamin. They are determined either to clear him, or never to return home. M.

Ver. 14. Juda, mindful of his engagement, (C. xliii. 9,) and perhaps more eloquent and bolder than the rest. M.

Ver. 15. The science of divining. He speaks of himself according to what he was esteemed in that kingdom. And, indeed, he being truly a prophet, knew more without comparison than any of the Egyptian sorcerers. Ch. — Heb. Sept. and Chal. “knew ye not that a man like me would divine with certainty,” and presently discover any fraud? C.

Ver. 16. Iniquity. He begins with the greatest humility, acknowledging that they were justly punished by God for some transgression, though they were, in his opinion, innocent of any theft. H. — Perhaps he might imagine that Benjamin had been guilty, (Bonfrere) and is willing to bear a part of the blame with the rest; or his conscience still presents before him the injustice done to Joseph so long before. H.

Ver. 18. Boldly, perceiving that he had to deal with an equitable judge. — Thou art; the second man in the kingdom. Heb. “even as Pharao.”

Ver. 20. Is left of, (habet mater.) Rachel had been dead about twenty-four years. H.

Ver. 31. With us, is not now found in Heb. But it is in the Sam. Sept. Syr. and Chaldee. C. — His grey hairs. That is, his person, now far advanced in years. — With sorrow unto hell. The Hebrew word for hell is here Sheola, the Greek hades: it is not taken for the hell of the damned; but for that place of souls below, where the servants of God were kept before the coming of Christ. Which place, both in the Scripture and in the creed, is named hell. Ch. — In this speech, we find many particulars not mentioned before; whence it appears, that the sacred historian does not always specify every circumstance. But, in relating the same speech, uses various expressions to the same purport. C.

Ver. 33. The boy. I am older, and more fit for service. M.

Ver. 34. My father; who will drop down dead, oppressed with grief. How eloquent and pathetic was this address! Joseph could bear no more.