Joseph Tests His Brothers With a Silver Cup

In his retirement, Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia. Because Jefferson trusted that students would take their studies seriously, the code of discipline was lax. Unfortunately, his trust proved misplaced when the misbehavior of students led to a riot in which pr … More


Joseph had still another test for his brothers. He had his servant fill up their sacks with grain and again put their money back in the sacks (v. 1). Then he had him put his silver cup in Benjamin’s sack (v. 2). The next morning the eleven men left to return to their father with the grain (v. 3).

1. The Conspiracy (vv. 1-3).

2. The Confrontation (vv. 4-17).

They had gone only a short distance when they were arrested (at Joseph’s command) and accused of stealing his silver cup (vv. 4-6). They quickly deny this charge and agree to serve as slaves if any stolen loot can be found on them. They searched every sack beginning with Reuben’s (the oldest)and ending with Benjamin’s where  the cup was found (vv. 7-12). Then the brothers tore their clothes as people did in those days to show sorrow and sadness (v. 13). They were all brought back to stand before Joseph who was srill at home (v. 14). They bowed down before him and he asked them what they had done (v. 15). Judah replied, “Sir what can we say and how can we prove we are innocent” (v. 16)? Joseph said that he did not plan to punish all of them but only the man with whom the cup was found shall be my servant and the rest of  you may return to your father (v. 17).    

By placing the cup in Benjamin’s sack Joseph had deliberately created a situation where if they wanted they could seize an opportunity to get rid of him. He wanted to see if their hearts had been changed. There is no record that they blamed Benjamin for getting them into trouble. They did not even scold him.


How would I pass the test if I was accused of something I didn’t do? Would I look for a way I could pass the blame on to someone else or would I try to help everyone involved?

Genesis 44:1-17 (English Standard Version)

Then he commanded the steward of his house, "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, and put my cup, the silver cup, in the mouth of the sack of the youngest, with his money for the grain." And he did as Joseph told him. As soon as the morning was light, the men were sent away with their donkeys. They had gone only a short distance from the city. Now Joseph said to his steward, "Up, follow after the men, and when you overtake them, say to them, 'Why have you repaid evil for good? Is it not from this that my lord drinks, and by this that he practices divination? You have done evil in doing this.'" When he overtook them, he spoke to them these words. 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 that we found in the mouths of our sacks we brought back to you from the land of Canaan. How then could we steal silver or gold from your lord's house? Whichever of your servants is found with it shall die, and we also will be my lord's servants." He said, "Let it be as you say: he who is found with it shall be my servant, and the rest of you shall be innocent." Then each man quickly lowered his sack to the ground, and each man opened his sack. And he searched, beginning with the eldest and ending with the youngest. And the cup was found in Benjamin's sack. Then they tore their clothes, and every man loaded his donkey, and they returned to the city. When Judah and his brothers came to Joseph's house, he was still there. They fell before him to the ground. Joseph said to them, "What deed is this that you have done? Do you not know that a man like me can indeed practice divination?" And Judah said, "What shall we say to my lord? What shall we speak? Or how can we clear ourselves? God has found out the guilt of your servants; behold, we are my lord's servants, both we and he also in whose hand the cup has been found." But he said, "Far be it from me that I should do so! Only the man in whose hand the cup was found shall be my servant. But as for you, go up in peace to your father."

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