a. A Good Morning? Chapter 44 begins with the morning of the following day of the banquet. Joseph and his brothers enjoyed their time together but now it was time for the brothers to take the food that they had come to buy back home. Joseph goes to his steward and tells him to fill their bags with food, as much as they can carry, and to put each man’s money in the mouth of their sack. So far this looks like Joseph is just repeating what he did before. But then he tells the steward to take his silver cup and put it into Benjamin’s bag. And so, the faithful servant does just what Joseph says. The donkeys are loaded up, the brothers have all of their things and they are sent on their way. The brothers must have been overjoyed that they were all leaving the city, with the food and the accusation of being spies behind them. It was a great morning for them. b. You have done evil. But that’s when Joseph enacts his plan. He goes to his steward and lets him in on what is going on. Joseph tells him to ride out after the men and then to say to them, “Why have you repaid evil for good? Is it not from this that my lord drinks, and by this that he practices divination? You have done evil in doing this?” Of course, the steward knows that all of this is a setup and that he is playing a role in this plan. So, the steward chases the brothers down and he confronts them. He must have been a good actor because he plays the role of the angry steward who is confronting thieves in a convincing way. When the brothers hear what they are accused of they respond with confusion. “Why does my lord speak such words as these?” In other words, what are you talking about? We wouldn’t do that. Then they bring some logic into their argument. They remind the steward that when they found the money that they gave to buy food the first time, they brought it back. If they were trying to steal from them, they would have just kept the money instead of bringing it back with them and then telling the steward about it. To steal now, wouldn’t make any sense. Then they make, I believe, the foolish promise that if one of them has the cup that person will die for it. This should remind us of Jacob who made the same promise when Laban accused him of stealing the teraphim. Both times, someone did have the item in their possession. There is a lesson to be learned here about making promises without knowing the details. c. A multi-tiered plan. The steward doesn’t accept their promise of death but says, “he who is found with it shall be my servant, and the rest of you shall be innocent.” Here is where I think we see the wisdom of Joseph. This is a multi-tiered plan. He is able to test their honesty, their loyalty to their family, especially Benjamin, and he would be able to keep Benjamin with him preventing him from returning to Canaan. Joseph is not just a pretty face but he truly is a wise and discerning man. The steward proceeds to search the bags of the brothers, beginning with the oldest, and searches their bags in order of their age. Of course, the steward knows where the cup is but he plays up the suspense. He finally gets to Benjamin and there is the cup. The brothers tear their clothes in a rage and they turn around and return to the city. d. Your sin will find you out. When the brothers return to Joseph’s house they fall before him. Again, we see Joseph’s dreams fulfilled again. Joseph, also a good actor, plays his role as the angry governor. He asks his brothers what they did and asks them, “Do you not know that a man like me can indeed practice divination?” There is some debate over whether Joseph actually practiced the evil art of divination or if he just said it for effect. Divination was indeed practiced in Egypt by staring into a cup or bowl filled with water. Sometimes coins or precious stones were placed in the water. The diviner would stare into the water until they would reach a trance-like state. However, knowing what we do about Joseph, it is doubtful that he practiced divination or even needed to. Judah speaks up and admits that there is nothing they can say. They have the cup. “God has found out the guilt of your servants.” Judah knows that they are not guilty of stealing but he admits to guilt. What guilt? What guilt has God found out? Is Judah just admitting they had the cup or is he thinking of their former sin against Joseph? As the readers, we know their innocence in this case and their prior guilt, and the reason why they are going through all this. It is because they wanted to murder Joseph. God has found out their sin. He has made it known and is disciplining them. Many years later, Moses will warn the people of Reuben and Gad not to renege on their promises and sin against the Lord. If they did, Moses says, “be sure your sin will find you out.”