7 And they said unto him, Wherefore saith my lord these words? God forbid that thy servants should do according to this thing:
8 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?
9 With whomsoever of thy servants it be found, both let him die, and we also will be my lord’s bondmen.
10 And he said, Now also let it be according unto your words: he with whom it is found shall be my servant; and ye shall be blameless.
I find it very interesting that Jacob’s sons are so confident in declaring their innocence. Yes, they know that they have done no wrong, but they also didn’t put the money into their sacks the first time they came to Egypt, yet there it was even so. I would think an abundance of caution, and suspicion of treachery would be warranted, but apparently it doesn’t cross their minds that they might be walking into a trap.
For if it did cross their minds, why on earth would they stake their very lives on the matter? Their own suggestion is that if one of them has committed the crime then that brother should be killed, and all the others will be made into slaves!
The steward cools down their fervor somewhat. They won’t all be punished if only one of them has committed the crime, and the thief won’t be killed, but he will have to become Joseph’s slave. Given that they are willing to the higher punishment, the brothers are agreeable to this lesser one as well. And so, they willingly commit themselves to their own ruin.
15 And the men took that present, and they took double money in their hand, and Benjamin; and rose up, and went down to Egypt, and stood before Joseph.
16 And when Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the ruler of his house, Bring these men home, and slay, and make ready; for these men shall dine with me at noon.
17 And the man did as Joseph bade; and the man brought the men into Joseph’s house.
18 And the men were afraid, because they were brought into Joseph’s house; and they said, Because of the money that was returned in our sacks at the first time are we brought in; that he may seek occasion against us, and fall upon us, and take us for bondmen, and our asses.
Jacob’s sons set out as instructed, bringing with them the present, the double-money, and their youngest brother. Once again they come to Egypt, and once again they find themselves dealing directly with the great Egyptian ruler Zaphnath-paaneah, who is in reality Joseph. And so, at last, Joseph sees Benjamin, and he is moved. Shortly he will show an abundance of tender and caring feeling towards him.
Rather than conduct his business with his brothers right away, Joseph makes ready for the second stage of his test. He is going to play the part of gracious host and treat them kindly, presumably to set his brothers at ease.
But Joseph’s brothers do not receive the invitation to his house with any enthusiasm! Thus far Zaphnath-paaneah, has seemed extremely paranoid towards them, and they immediately assume that this is all a trap. What would stop him from doing whatever mischief he desired to them, just as soon as the doors to the outside world were closed?
35 And it came to pass as they emptied their sacks, that, behold, every man’s bundle of money was in his sack: and when both they and their father saw the bundles of money, they were afraid.
One of the brothers had opened his sack of grain on the way home and found his money restored, but apparently the others did not check theirs until they were all gathered before their faither. Now they see that all of them have had their money returned to them and it fills them with dread.
On the one hand, they might rightly assume that this is a trick by that suspicious head Egyptian, Zaphnath-paaneah, who sold them the grain. And based on his attitude towards the brothers earlier, it would seem likely Zaphnath had done this to entrap them, rather than as a kindness. Indeed, they will suggest as much in the very next chapter.
Or, on the other hand, it might have ended up in their grain as a mistake, in which case the Egyptians might have found the imbalance in their ledgers, and then they might assume the brothers had somehow stolen their money back again. In either case, the presence of this money is a disturbing turn of events, giving the Egyptians ample reason to persecute them further.
The prospect of going back to Egypt thus becomes so distasteful, that they won’t even attempt it until they are once again at starvation’s door in the next chapter. Indeed, if it weren’t for the shadow of death upon them, perhaps Simeon would never have been retrieved. He would have been left by his brothers to rot in prison, just as Joseph.