44 Joseph told the manager of his house what to do. “Fill the men’s sacks with as much food as they can carry,” he said. “Put each man’s money in his sack. 2 Then put my silver cup in the youngest one’s sack. Put it there along with the money he paid for his grain.” So the manager did what Joseph told him to do. 3 When morning came, the men were sent on their way with their donkeys. 4 They hadn’t gone very far from the city when Joseph spoke to his manager. “Go after those men right away,” he said. “Catch up with them. Say to them, ‘My master was good to you. Why have you paid him back by doing evil? 5 Isn’t this the cup my master drinks from? Doesn’t he also use it to find things out? You have done an evil thing.’ ” 6 When the manager caught up with them, he told them what Joseph had said. 7 But they said to him, “Why do you say these things? We would never do anything like that! 8 We even brought back to you from Canaan the money we found in our sacks. So why would we steal silver or gold from your master’s house? 9 If you find out that any of us has the cup, he will die. And the rest of us will become your slaves.” 10 “All right, then,” he said. “As you wish. The one found to have the cup will become my slave. But the rest of you will not be blamed.” 11 Each of them quickly put his sack down on the ground and opened it. 12 Then the manager started to search. He began with the oldest and ended with the youngest. The cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. 13 When that happened, they were so upset they tore their clothes. Then all of them loaded their donkeys and went back to the city. 14 Joseph was still in the house when Judah and his brothers came in. They threw themselves down on the ground in front of him. 15 Joseph said to them, “What have you done? Don’t you know that a man like me has ways to find things out?” 16 “What can we say to you?” Judah replied. “What can we say? How can we prove we haven’t done anything wrong? God has shown you that we are guilty. We are now your slaves. All of us are, including the one found to have the cup.” 17 But Joseph said, “I would never do anything like that! Only the man found to have the cup will become my slave. The rest of you may go back to your father in peace.”
What Joseph does in this passage seems rather unfair. To set the brothers up to look like thieves and put them through the emotional torment of thinking they are heading for slavery and going to be responsible for separating their father from his favourite son. It seems odd that Joseph should act as judge, for isn’t that God’s job? Judah’s reply that God has exposed their iniquity seems to be a reference to selling Joseph. There is a recognition of wrongdoing and a sense of knowing they deserve punishment.
Behind all the strategies and plots is simply a rejected brother’s desire to know his brothers’ hearts. Have they changed or are they the same? Will they accept him now?
God calls for us to acknowledge wrong before He forgives us, and Joseph is doing something similar here. If there is to be true reconciliation of this family the perpetrators need to admit wrong or show a repentant heart before Joseph can trust them and build close relationship again. He has forgiven them, but Joseph wants reconciliation.
God, please help me to be quick to confess wrong and to forgive. Help me to work towards reconciliation and focus on restoration of relationship. Thank you God for this beautiful and inspiring example of Joseph and his brothers. Amen.
Written by Beth Waugh