11 Then they speedily took down every man his sack to the ground, and opened every man his sack.

12 And he searched, and began at the eldest, and left at the youngest: and the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack.

13 Then they rent their clothes, and laded every man his ass, and returned to the city.

Joseph’s steward seems to have a theatricality. Obviously, he knows exactly which of the brothers has the cup in their sack, he put it there himself, but he goes to the oldest brother first and works his way down in seniority, knowing full well that this means the “stolen” goods will be found in the very last sack he searches.

At last, the incriminating evidence is laid bare, and all the brothers become distraught. They tear their clothing, but there’s nothing for them to do. They have already condemned themselves, insisting that the guilty man be punished if found. Now, by their own insistence, they are return to face the wrath of the Egyptian ruler.

In this I see a representation of the dilemma that all mankind face when considering the judgment of God. Any person who lives long enough will sooner or later have parts of their lives that they cannot excuse. They will commit a crime against their own conscience, and they will know that something is broken inside, that they are unworthy of a happy ending.

But while the brothers may not be able to fathom it, grace is waiting for them, and so, too, it can be waiting for us.

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