Joseph and the Silver Pimp-Cup: Genesis 44

After they all wake up hungover from their royal feast, (but still not suspecting anything is awry), Joseph instructs his chief servant to fill up his brothers’ bags with food and to return their money. He also tells him to put Joseph’s superspecial silver pimp-cup in Benjamin’s bag.

Not long after they hit the road back to Canaan, Joseph tells his head servant to chase after them and accuse them of stealing from him. He catches up and lights into them about stealing from Joseph. They deny it, and despite finding surprise-money in their bags last time, they vow to kill anyone who has anything that belongs to Joseph and to submit to slavery. In no time, the servant discovers the cup in Benjamin’s bag, and the brothers shit a collective brick.

They return to Egypt, where Joseph dresses them down. Judah makes a strange tactical decision at this point not to deny the allegations, saying instead:

16 `What do we say to my lord? what do we speak? and what — do we justify ourselves? God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants; lo, we [are] servants to my lord, both we, and he in whose hand the cup hath been found’

I’m not sure what he hopes to accomplish with that wide-ranging mea culpa. I guess he decided protesting the charges would be futile. Risky maneuver, considering he promised Jacob that he sacrifice his own sons if he failed to bring Benjamin back. Thankfully for his almost-dead children, he eventually gets his feet under him and launches into a long speech recounting his oath to Jacob. It’s actually more poetic and compelling the second time around; he really embellishes it, talking about how Benjamin’s soul is bound up with Jacob’s soul and that the old man will spontaneously die if they don’t return with Benjamin. He also spends a lot of time detailing how much Jacob misses Joseph, even though that really wasn’t a part of their earlier conversation. It’s a little suspicious. None of these guys is clever, but maybe Judah has figured out that Joseph is Joseph. All it took was protracted, increasingly schizophrenic behavior from Joseph, and escalating bouts of bizarre obsession alternating with irrational rages. Alternating threats of death and imprisonment and invitations to lavish feasts. Either these guys are extremely dense or people were just a bit more volatile back then.

As a grand finale to his speech, Judah metaphorically throws the car keys on the betting table,  offering to take Benjamin’s place as Joseph’s servant. Since I’m a pessimist, I take that as more evidence that he knew Joseph was Joseph and was just playing to his sympathy. You’ll have to wait until next chapter to see what happens! (Sorry, it’s really not that exciting, you just have to take what you can get when it comes to suspenseful cliffhangers in the Bible)


1 And he commandeth him who [is] over his house, saying, `Fill the bags of the men [with] food, as they are able to bear, and put the money of each in the mouth of his bag;

and my cup, the silver cup, thou dost put in the mouth of the bag of the young one, and his corn-money;’ and he doth according to the word of Joseph which he hath spoken.

The morning is bright, and the men have been sent away, they and their asses —

they have gone out of the city — they have not gone far off — and Joseph hath said to him who [is] over his house, `Rise, pursue after the men; and thou hast overtaken them, and thou hast said unto them, Why have ye recompensed evil for good?

Is not this that with which my lord drinketh? and he observeth diligently with it; ye have done evil [in] that which ye have done.’

And he overtaketh them, and speaketh unto them these words,

and they say unto him, `Why doth my lord speak according to these words? far be it from thy servants to do according to this word;

lo, the money which we found in the mouth of our bags we brought back unto thee from the land of Canaan, and how do we steal from the house of thy lord silver or gold?

with whomsoever of thy servants it is found, he hath died, and we also are to my lord for servants.’

10 And he saith, `Now, also, according to your words, so it [is]; he with whom it is found becometh my servant, and ye are acquitted;’

11 and they hasten and take down each his bag to the earth, and each openeth his bag;

12 and he searcheth — at the eldest he hath begun, and at the youngest he hath completed — and the cup is found in the bag of Benjamin;

13 and they rend their garments, and each ladeth his ass, and they turn back to the city.

14 And Judah — his brethren also — cometh in unto the house of Joseph, and he is yet there, and they fall before him to the earth;

15 and Joseph saith to them, `What [is] this deed that ye have done? have ye not known that a man like me doth diligently observe?’

16 And Judah saith, `What do we say to my lord? what do we speak? and what — do we justify ourselves? God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants; lo, we [are] servants to my lord, both we, and he in whose hand the cup hath been found;’

17 and he saith, `Far be it from me to do this; the man in whose hand the cup hath been found, he becometh my servant; and ye, go ye up in peace unto your father.’

18 And Judah cometh nigh unto him, and saith, `O, my lord, let thy servant speak, I pray thee, a word in the ears of my lord, and let not thine anger burn against thy servant — for thou art as Pharaoh.

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

20 and we say unto my lord, We have a father, an aged one, and a child of old age, a little one; and his brother died, and he is left alone of his mother, and his father hath loved him.

21 `And thou sayest unto thy servants, Bring him down unto me, and I set mine eye upon him;

22 and we say unto my lord, The youth is not able to leave his father, when he hath left his father, then he hath died;

23 and thou sayest unto thy servants, If your young brother come not down with you, ye add not to see my face.

24 `And it cometh to pass, that we have come up unto thy servant my father, that we declare to him the words of my lord;

25 and our father saith, Turn back, buy for us a little food,

26 and we say, We are not able to go down; if our young brother is with us, then we have gone down; for we are not able to see the man’s face, and our young brother not with us.

27 `And thy servant my father saith unto us, Ye — ye have known that two did my wife bare to me,

28 and the one goeth out from me, and I say, Surely he is torn — torn! and I have not seen him since;

29 when ye have taken also this from my presence, and mischief hath met him, then ye have brought down my grey hairs with evil to sheol.

30 `And now, at my coming in unto thy servant my father, and the youth not with us (and his soul is bound up in his soul),

31 then it hath come to pass when he seeth that the youth is not, that he hath died, and thy servants have brought down the grey hairs of thy servant our father with sorrow to sheol;

32 for thy servant obtained the youth by surety from my father, saying, If I bring him not in unto thee — then I have sinned against my father all the days.

33 `And now, let thy servant, I pray thee, abide instead of the youth a servant to my lord, and the youth goeth up with his brethren,

34 for how do I go up unto my father, and the youth not with me? lest I look on the evil which doth find my father.’


4 thoughts on “Joseph and the Silver Pimp-Cup: Genesis 44

  1. Are you fucking kidding me? The bible is the ultimate suspenseful cliff hanger – the savior of all humanity says “I’m taking a break, but I’ll be back… real soon” ROFL

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