Benjamin Accused

Dec 6, 2015

וַיְצַו אֶת־אֲשֶׁר עַל־בֵּיתוֹ לֵאמֹר מַלֵּא אֶת־אַמְתְּחֹת הָאֲנָשִׁים אֹכֶל כַּאֲשֶׁר יוּכְלוּן שְׂאֵת וְשִׂים כֶּסֶף־אִישׁ בְּפִי אַמְתַּחְתּוֹ׃

Then he instructed his house steward as follows, “Fill the men's bags with food, as much as they can carry, and put each one's money in the mouth of his bag.

Genesis 44:1

וַיֹּאמֶר חָלִילָה לִּי מֵעֲשׂוֹת זֹאת הָאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר נִמְצָא הַגָּבִיעַ בְּיָדוֹ הוּא יִהְיֶה־לִּי עָבֶד וְאַתֶּם עֲלוּ לְשָׁלוֹם אֶל־אֲבִיכֶם׃

But he replied, “Far be it from me to act thus! Only he in whose possession the goblet was found shall be my slave; the rest of you go back in peace to your father.”

Genesis 44:17

Joseph secretly commands his servant to fill the brothers’ sacks with food, return their money, and plant his silver goblet in Benjamin’s sack. When the brothers leave, Joseph’s servant chases after them, accusing them of throwing Joseph’s kindness in his face: after everything he had done for them, how could they steal his silver goblet with which he performs divination? The brothers deny the charge, pointing out their honesty in having returned the money they found in their sacks after their last trip. So certain are they of their innocence, the brothers say if the goblet is found among their things, that man should be put to death. Joseph, however, is willing to “settle” for enslaving the guilty party.

 

A search is conducted, and the goblet is found among Benjamin’s things. Devastated, the brothers return to the city. Joseph confronts the brothers, asking if they really thought they could get away with such a thing. Judah laments that God must wish to punish them, and offers the services of all the brothers as slaves. Joseph, however, is interested in taking only the guilty party.

 

The Israel Bible notices a seemingly superfluous detail the brothers provide in their defense: that they brought the money back from the Land of Canaan. Apparently, by bringing the money from the land of spiritual heights, the Land of Israel, the brothers feel they have demonstrated their unimpeachable honesty.

 

Virtual Classroom Discussion

If he is planning to draw the brothers back to the city with his false accusations, why does Joseph tell his servant to return the brothers’ money in addition to filling their sacks with (apparently extra) food?

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