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Song of Solomon
Genesis 44 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)
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And he commanded the steward of his house, saying, Fill the men's sacks
food, as much as they can carry, and put every man's money in his sack's mouth.
Verses 1, 2.
commanded the steward of his house,
him that was over his hoarse
saying, Fill the men's sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put every man's money in his sack's mouth
(as before, but not this time as a test).
And put my cup
, from an unused root,
, conveying the sense of elevation or roundness; hence a goblet or bowl, commonly of a large size (
), as distinguished from the
, or mailer cup, into which, from the
, wine or other liquid was poured (cf.
the silver cup
τὸ κόνδυ τὸ ἀργυροῶν
(LXX.). Bohlen mentions that the religious drinking utensil of the Indian priests is called
in the sack's mouth of the youngest, and his corn money
the silver of
his grain, or of his purchase.
did according to the word that Joseph had spoken.
And put my cup, the silver cup, in the sack's mouth of the youngest, and his corn money. And he did according to the word that Joseph had spoken.
As soon as the morning was light, the men were sent away, they and their asses.
As soon as the morning was light
the morning became bright
(literally, and the men)
were sent away, they and their asses.
That Joseph did not make himself known to his brothers at the repast was not due to unnatural callousness which caused his heart to remain cold and steeled (Kalisch), or to a fear lest he should thereby destroy the character of his mission which made him the medium of retribution for his brothers (Kalisch), but to the fact that in his judgment either his brothers had not been sufficiently tested, or the time did not appear convenient for the disclosure of his secret.
And when they were gone out of the city
they went forth out of the city
and not yet far off
had not gone far
said unto his steward
(or man over his house),
Up, follow after the men; and when thou dost overtake them, say unto them
and overtake them, and say
Wherefore have ye rewarded evil for good
? The interpolation at this point of the words, "Why did you steal my silver goblet?" (LXX., Vulgate, Syriac) is superfluous.
Is not this it in which my lord drinketh, and whereby indeed he divineth?
and divining he divineth
, or maketh trial,
, the verb
(from which is derived
, a serpent:
) originally signifying to hiss or whisper, and hence to mutter incantations, to practice ophiomancy, and generally to divine. The special form of divination here referred to (
, or divining out of cups) was practiced by the ancient Egyptians (Hengstenberg's 'Egypt and the Books of Moses,' p. 39). "Small pieces of gold or silver, together with precious stones, marked with strange figures and signs, were thrown into the vessel; after which certain incantations were pronounced, and the evil demon was invoked; the latter was then supposed to give the answer either by intelligible words, or by pointing to some of the characters on the precious stones, or in some other more mysterious manner. Sometimes the goblet was filled with pure water, upon which the sun was allowed to play; and the figures which were thus formed, or which a lively imagination fancied it saw, were interpreted as the desired omen" (Kalisch). Traces of this ancient practice of soothsaying have been detected by some writers in the magnificent vase of turquoise belonging to Jam-shoed, the Solomon of Persia. Like Merlin's cup, described by Spenser ('Faery Queens,' 3:2, 19) -
"It vertue had to show in perfect sight
Whatever thing was in the world contained
Betwixt the lowest earth and heven's hight,
So that it to the looker appertaynd."
A similar account is given by Homer of the cup of Nestor; and Alexander the Great is reported to have possessed a mystic goblet of a like kind. It is said that in the storming of Seringapatam the unfortunate Tippeo Saib retired to gaze on his divining cup, and that after standing awhile absorbed in it he returned to the fight and fell (vide Kitto's 'Cyclopedia,' art. Divination).
Ye have done evil in so doing.
when they were gone out of the city,
far off, Joseph said unto his steward, Up, follow after the men; and when thou dost overtake them, say unto them, Wherefore have ye rewarded evil for good?
in which my lord drinketh, and whereby indeed he divineth? ye have done evil in so doing.
And he overtook them, and he spake unto them these same words.
overtook them, and he spake unto them these same words.
And they said unto him, Wherefore saith my lord these words? God forbid that thy servants should do according to this thing:
nd they said unto him, Wherefore saith my lord these words? God forbid that thy servants should do
for be thy seesaws from doing
according to s thing: behold, the money
which we found in our sacks' mouths, we brought again unto thee out of the land of Canaan
(this was an irrefragable proof of their honesty):
how then should we steal out of my lord's house silver or gold?
They were even so confident of their innocence that they ventured on a rash proposition.
With whomsoever of thy servants it be found, both let him die, and we also will be my lord's bondmen
for servants to my lord
said, Now also let it be according to your words.
So LXX., Vulgate, and commentators generally; but Kalisch reads it as an interrogation, "
it right according to your words?" meaning that strict justice demanded only the punishment of the thief, as he explained.
He with whom it is found shall be my servant; and ye
the others of you)
shall be blameless.
Behold, the money, which we found in our sacks' mouths, we brought again unto thee out of the land of Canaan: how then should we steal out of thy lord's house silver or gold?
With whomsoever of thy servants it be found, both let him die, and we also will be my lord's bondmen.
And he said, Now also
according unto your words: he with whom it is found shall be my servant; and ye shall be blameless.
Then they speedily took down every man his sack to the ground, and opened every man his sack.
Then they speedily took down
and they hasted and took
every man his sack
(from off his ass)
to the ground, and opened every man his sack
Thus as it were delivering them up for examination. And he
searched, and began at the eldest, and left at the youngest
(in order thereby to mask the deception):
and the cup was found
(where the steward himself had put it)
in Benjamin's sack. Then
they rent their clothes
and laded every man his ass
(by putting on the sack which had been taken down),
and returned to the city
And he searched,
began at the eldest, and left at the youngest: and the cup was found in Benjamin's sack.
Then they rent their clothes, and laded every man his ass, and returned to the city.
And Judah and his brethren came to Joseph's house; for he
yet there: and they fell before him on the ground.
- who is recognized as the leader in this second embassy to Egypt (
and his brethren came to Joseph's house; for he was yet there
: - "awaiting, no doubt, the result which he anticipated" (Murphy) -
and they fell before him on the ground.
The expression indicates a complete prostration of the body. It was a token of their penitence, and a sign that they craved his forgiveness.
And Joseph said unto them
, - in a speech not of "cruel and haughty irony" (Kalisch), but simply of assumed resentment -
What deed is this that we have done! were ye not
(or, did you not know?)
that such a man as I can certainly divine?
divining can divine
(vide on ver. 5). Though Joseph uses this language, and is represented by his steward as possessing a divining cup, there is no reason to suppose that he was in the habit of practicing this heathen superstition.
And Judah said
(acting throughout this scene as the spokesman of his brethren),
What shall we say unto my lord? What shall we speak? or how shall we clear ourselves?
justify ourselves, or purge ourselves from suspicion).
hath found out the iniquity of thy servants: behold, we are my lord's servants
servants to my lord
both we, and he also with whom the cup is found. And he
said, God forbid that I should do so
but the man in whose hand the cup is found, he shall be my servant; and as for you, get you up in peace unto your father.
Thus they were once more tested as to whether they could, as before, callously deliver up their father's favorite, and so bring down the gray hairs of their father to the grave, or would heroically and self-sacrificingly offer their own lives and liberties for his protection (Rosenmüller, Keil, Lange, Murphy, and others). How nobly they stood the test Judah's pathetic supplication reveals.
And Joseph said unto them, What deed
this that ye have done? wot ye not that such a man as I can certainly divine?
And Judah said, What shall we say unto my lord? what shall we speak? or how shall we clear ourselves? God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants: behold, we
my lord's servants, both we, and
also with whom the cup is found.
And he said, God forbid that I should do so:
the man in whose hand the cup is found, he shall be my servant; and as for you, get you up in peace unto your father.
Then Judah came near unto him, and said, Oh my lord, let thy servant, I pray thee, speak a word in my lord's ears, and let not thine anger burn against thy servant: for thou
even as Pharaoh.
Then Judah came near to him, and said,
- the speech of Judah in behalf of his young brother Benjamin has been fittingly characterized as "one of the master. pieces of Hebrew composition" (Kalisch), "one of the grandest and fairest to be found in the Old Testament" (Lange), "a more moving oration than ever orator pronounced" (Lawson), "one of the finest specimens of natural eloquence in the world" (Inglis). Without being distinguished by either brilliant imagination or highly poetic diction, "its inimitable charm and excellence consist in the power of psychological truth, easy simplicity, and affecting pathos" (Kalisch) -
Oh my lord
the same as that used by Judah in
let thy servant, I pray thee, speak a word in my lord's ears
(probably pressing towards him in his eagerness),
and let not thine anger burn against thy servant: for thou art even as Pharaoh
one invested with the authority of Pharaoh, and therefore able, like Pharaoh, either to pardon or condemn).
My lord asked his servants, saying, Have yea father, or a brother! And we said unto my lord, We have a father, an old man, and a child of his old age
a little one; and his brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother, and his father loveth him
. Substantially this is the account which the brethren gave of themselves from the first (
); only Judah now with exquisite tact as well as resistless pathos dwells on the threefold circumstance that the little one whose life was at stake was inexpressibly dear to his father for his dead brother's sake as well as for his departed mother's and his own.
And thou saidst unto thy servants, Bring him down unto me, that I may set mine eyes upon him
. This last clause is also a rhetorical enlargement of Joseph's words,
(LXX.); the phrase, to set one's eyes on any one, being commonly used in a good sense, signifying to regard any one with kindness, to look to his good (cf.
And we said unto my lord, The lad cannot leave his father: for if he should leave his father, his father would die.
Judah in this no doubt correctly reports the original conversation, although the remark is not recorded in the first account.
And thou saidst unto thy servants, Except your youngest brother come down with you, ye shall see my face no more
And it came to pass
(literally, it was)
when we came up unto thy servant my father, we told him the words of my lord.
The effect upon Jacob of their sad communication Judah does not recite (
), but passes on to the period of the commencement of the second journey. And our father laid (
after the consumption of the corn supply), Go again, and buy us a little food (
And we laid, We cannot go down: if our youngest brother be with us, then will we go down: for we may not see the man's face, except our youngest brother be with us. And thy servant my father said unto us
(at this point Judah with increased tenderness alludes to the touching lamentation of the stricken patriarch as he first listens to the unwelcome proposition to take Benjamin from his side),
Ye know that my wife
- Rachel was all through her life the wife of his affections (cf.
bare me two sons:
- Joseph and Benjamin (
Genesis 30:22, 24
and the one
went out from me
(and returned not, thus indirectly alluding to his death),
and I said, Surely he is torn in pieces; and I saw him not since.
Jacob means that had Joseph been alive, he would certainly have returned; but that as since that fatal day of his departure from Hebron he had never beheld him, he could only conclude that his inference was correct, and that Joseph was devoured by some beast of prey.
And if ye take this also from me
(in the sense which the next clause explains),
and mischief befall him, ye shall bring down my grey hairs with sorrow to the grave
when I come
to thy servant my father, and the lad be not with us; seeing that his life
is bound up in the lad's life
it shall come to pass, when he sooth that the lad is not with us, that he will die: and thy servants shall bring down the grey hairs of thy servant our father with sorrow to the grave. For thy servant became surety for the lad unto my father, saying, If I bring him not unto thee, then I shall bear the blame to my father for ever
(literally, and now),
I pray thee, let thy servant abide instead of the lad a bondman
to my lord; and let the lad go up with his brethren.
"There was no duty that imperiously prohibited Judah from taking the place of his unfortunate brother. His children, and even his wife, if he had been in the married state, might have been sent to Egypt. He was so far master of his own liberty that he could warrantably put himself in Benjamin's room, if the governor gave his consent" (Lawson).
For how shall I go up to my father, and the lad be not with me? lest peradventure I see the evil that shall come on
. The sublime heroism of this noble act of self-sacrifice on the part of Judah it is impossible to over-estimate. In behalf of one whom he knew was preferred to a higher place in his father's affection than himself, he was willing to renounce his liberty rather than see his aged parent die of a broken heart. The self-forgetful magnanimity of such an action has never been eclipsed, and seldom rivaled. After words so exquisitely beautiful and profoundly pathetic it was impossible for Joseph to doubt that a complete change had passed upon his brethren, and in particular upon Judah, since the day when he had eloquently urged, and they had wickedly consented, to sell their brother Joseph into Egypt. Everything was now ready for the denouement in this domestic drama. The story of Joseph's discovery of himself to his astonished brethren is related in the ensuing chapter.
My lord asked his servants, saying, Have ye a father, or a brother?
And we said unto my lord, We have a father, an old man, and a child of his old age, a little one; and his brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother, and his father loveth him.
And thou saidst unto thy servants, Bring him down unto me, that I may set mine eyes upon him.
And we said unto my lord, The lad cannot leave his father: for
he should leave his father,
And thou saidst unto thy servants, Except your youngest brother come down with you, ye shall see my face no more.
And it came to pass when we came up unto thy servant my father, we told him the words of my lord.
And our father said, Go again,
buy us a little food.
And we said, We cannot go down: if our youngest brother be with us, then will we go down: for we may not see the man's face, except our youngest brother
And thy servant my father said unto us, Ye know that my wife bare me two
And the one went out from me, and I said, Surely he is torn in pieces; and I saw him not since:
And if ye take this also from me, and mischief befall him, ye shall bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.
Now therefore when I come to thy servant my father, and the lad
not with us; seeing that his life is bound up in the lad's life;
It shall come to pass, when he seeth that the lad
, that he will die: and thy servants shall bring down the gray hairs of thy servant our father with sorrow to the grave.
For thy servant became surety for the lad unto my father, saying, If I bring him not unto thee, then I shall bear the blame to my father for ever.
Now therefore, I pray thee, let thy servant abide instead of the lad a bondman to my lord; and let the lad go up with his brethren.
For how shall I go up to my father, and the lad
not with me? lest peradventure I see the evil that shall come on my father.
Courtesy of Open Bible
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