A loyalty first to self once led Joseph’s brothers to rid themselves of him.
Joseph now provides them the opportunity once again to abandon a favored son, thus testing their loyalty.
God may test our willingness to put others first if in the past we failed to demonstrate this. Given a second chance, a repentant heart will choose the right path.
Then he commanded his house steward, saying, “Fill the men’s sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put each man’s money in the mouth of his sack. “Put my cup, the silver cup, in the mouth of the sack of the youngest, and his money for the grain.” And he did as Joseph had told him. As soon as it was light, the men were sent away, they with their donkeys. They had just gone out of the city, and were not far off, when Joseph said to his house steward, “Up, follow the men; and when you overtake them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid evil for good? ‘Is not this the one from which my lord drinks and which he indeed uses for divination? You have done wrong in doing this.’”
So he overtook them and spoke these words to them. They said to him, “Why does my lord speak such words as these? Far be it from your servants to do such a thing. “Behold, the money which we found in the mouth of our sacks we have brought back to you from the land of Canaan. How then could we steal silver or gold from your lord’s house? “With whomever of your servants it is found, let him die, and we also will be my lord’s slaves.” So he said, “Now let it also be according to your words; he with whom it is found shall be my slave, and the rest of you shall be innocent.” Then they hurried, each man lowered his sack to the ground, and each man opened his sack. He searched, beginning with the oldest and ending with the youngest, and the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. Then they tore their clothes, and when each man loaded his donkey, they returned to the city.
When Judah and his brothers came to Joseph’s house, he was still there, and they fell to the ground before him. Joseph said to them, “What is this deed that you have done? Do you not know that such a man as I can indeed practice divination?” So Judah said, “What can we say to my lord? What can we speak? And how can we justify ourselves? God has found out the iniquity of your servants; behold, we are my lord’s slaves, both we and the one in whose possession the cup has been found.” But he said, “Far be it from me to do this. The man in whose possession the cup has been found, he shall be my slave; but as for you, go up in peace to your father.”
Then Judah approached him, and said, “Oh my lord, may your servant please speak a word in my lord’s ears, and do not be angry with your servant; for you are equal to Pharaoh. “My lord asked his servants, saying, ‘Have you a father or a brother?’ “We said to my lord, ‘We have an old father and a little child of his old age. Now his brother is dead, so he alone is left of his mother, and his father loves him.’ “Then you said to your servants, ‘Bring him down to me that I may set my eyes on him.’ “But we said to my lord, ‘The lad cannot leave his father, for if he should leave his father, his father would die.’ “You said to your servants, however, ‘Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you will not see my face again.’ “Thus it came about when we went up to your servant my father, we told him the words of my lord. “Our father said, ‘Go back, buy us a little food.’ “But we said, ‘We cannot go down. If our youngest brother is with us, then we will go down; for we cannot see the man’s face unless our youngest brother is with us.’ “Your servant my father said to us, ‘You know that my wife bore me two sons; and the one went out from me, and I said, “Surely he is torn in pieces,” and I have not seen him since. ‘If you take this one also from me, and harm befalls him, you will bring my gray hair down to Sheol in sorrow.’ “Now, therefore, when I come to your servant my father, and the lad is not with us, since his life is bound up in the lad’s life, when he sees that the lad is not with us, he will die. Thus your servants will bring the gray hair of your servant our father down to Sheol in sorrow. “For your servant became surety for the lad to my father, saying, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, then let me bear the blame before my father forever.’ “Now, therefore, please let your servant remain instead of the lad a slave to my lord, and let the lad go up with his brothers. “For how shall I go up to my father if the lad is not with me — for fear that I see the evil that would overtake my father?” Genesis 44:1–34