Daily Word

Baffled beyond belief | Genesis 44:14-17

14 Joseph was still in his palace when Judah and his brothers arrived, and they fell to the ground before him. 15 “What have you done?” Joseph demanded. “Don’t you know that a man like me can predict the future?”

16 Judah answered, “Oh, my lord, what can we say to you? How can we explain this? How can we prove our innocence? God is punishing us for our sins. My lord, we have all returned to be your slaves—all of us, not just our brother who had your cup in his sack.”

17 “No,” Joseph said. “I would never do such a thing! Only the man who stole the cup will be my slave. The rest of you may go back to your father in peace.”

Genesis 44:14-17 (NLT)

Return to Joseph

The brothers have been framed by Joseph…for the purpose of teasing out a change of heart. They bow before Joseph. This is now the 3rd time Joseph’s dream is fulfilled (Genesis 37:5-8) of the brothers (and later his father and mother) bowing before him.

Baffled beyond belief

The brothers are baffled beyond belief and are speechless before their accuser. On the one hand, they know that they didn’t steal the silver cup and are not guilty of the crime so don’t deserve any punishment. Yet they cannot prove their innocence and reluctantly accept their fate. At the same time,  it is clear that they also know their guilt from sinning against Joseph long ago: “God is punishing us for our sins. (v16)”

Judah leads

Judah takes the lead here and offers they can all become slaves. This reflects a change in heart from his wilder days (Gen 38). He steps into his predestined role as the inheritor of the blessing and envious position in the line of progenitor of Messiah. 

What was he thinking? Was he thinking that it’s better to have them all stick together in slavery in Egypt since Jacob will die of a broken heart regardless? Is it possible that deep inside he had faith in the Lord’s promise to Jacob in Genesis 34:12 (and Abraham, Genesis 22:15-24, and Isaac, Genesis 26:24) that He would bless him with abundant children…including the brothers?


“The brothers were innocent of the sin of stealing the cup, but were guilty of far greater sins. In the same way, we might take pride because we are innocent of some sin or another, yet we are guilty of far greater. You can’t hide from your sin.” (enduringword.com)

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