This blog post will cover the devotionals #181, 182 for Genesis Chapter 44.
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 Genesis 44:1-13
Joseph again had his brothers’ sacks filled with as much food as they could handle and told his manager to put each man’s money back inside the opening of the sack. Joseph also instructed him to place his silver cup with Benjamin’s food money in his sack. At dawn, the brothers were sent away with their donkeys. They finally felt a sense of joy and safety. They were stocked with food, had their animals, had repaid their debt, and had Simeon and Benjamin with them. It seemed they were finally away from risk. However, as soon as they got just outside the city, Joseph told his manager to pursue them with an accusatory inquiry. “Why have you rewarded evil for good? Is not this the cup from which my lord drinks, and by which he divines? You have done evil in doing this.” They were stunned. The cup from which rulers drank was supposedly able to determine if they were the victims of attempted poisoning. They were horrified and denied they’d ever do such a thing. They responded to the comment (that they’d rewarded him evil for the good that he’d done to them) by saying that it wouldn’t be consistent with their actions. They’d willingly brought the money back when they realized it was in their sacks the first time. Why would they do that and then turn around and steal his cup? It’s interesting that Jacob had unknowingly condemned his precious Rachel to death when he told Laban nobody in his household would steal from him, and if they did, then he could put them to death. Rachel had indeed stolen it but got away with it. Now Jacob’s sons said the very same thing when they were accused of having stolen from the governor. They too, were unknowingly condemning their precious Benjamin to death by telling Joseph’s steward that the man who would’ve done such a thing deserved to die—and the rest deserved slavery. This time, the one who had the precious item was innocent—but was ‘framed’ and ‘discovered’. The sacks were unloaded and individually searched from oldest to youngest until the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. Imagine their horror when they realized their fate. They tore their clothes (a common response back then to great affliction)—but none was more surprised and confused than Benjamin himself. They again returned to Egypt, now sadder and more afraid than before, and surer that God was indeed punishing them finally. Even worse, they realized their own oath to Joseph’s manager ensured Benjamin a life of slavery or death, confirming Jacob’s fears—and literally repeating what they’d done to Joseph.
 Genesis 44:14-34
Joseph’s brothers returned to his house, where he was waiting for them. They fell on their faces before him, and he questioned them, saying, “What have you done? Did you not know that a man like myself could certainly divine?” Joseph had a purpose in his question. He once more wanted to see what other acknowledgement of their sin he could glean from them. How did they truly feel about the wrong they’d done to him? He didn’t actually claim the power of divination, but he allowed them to believe that he had the ability to read their secrets. Judah responded saying they had no way to defend themselves. God had seen their iniquities and was punishing them for it, and now they’d all surrender as his slaves, as promised to his estate manager. He told his brothers they were being condemned by God to the same fate they’d condemned Joseph to. Joseph refused to keep them all but would only keep the responsible man (Benjamin) as his slave. He told the rest of them to return to their father. Just as we saw in devotional #177, Jacob’s sons’ characters had indeed changed. They were once jealous, chaotic, deceptive, cruel, and full of vengeance. Now, after they’d experienced adversity, they showed they were now selfless, loyal, and united brothers and devoted sons who submitted to Jacob’s authority, even though they were middle-aged men. This is why they’d originally chosen to remain in Egypt—to protect Benjamin from doom, and Jacob from heartbreak. Now Judah stepped up and followed through on his promise (as we saw in devotional #179) to be responsible for Benjamin. He touchingly explained how his father had been affected by the supposed death of the son of his beloved, deceased wife, how he’d reacted after their first interaction with him in Egypt, and how he resisted to send Benjamin as he required, but finally gave in, knowing he’d die if anything would happen to his only remaining, beloved son. Judah told Joseph of his promise to Jacob and begged him to allow him to stay in place of Benjamin for the sake of their father. How could he possibly return home and witness the death of heartbreak of his father?