Then Joseph instructed his chamberlain as follows: 'Fill these men's sacks with as much food as they can carry, and put each man's money in the mouth of his sack.
And put my cup, the silver one, in the mouth of the youngest one's sack as well as the money for his rations.' He did as Joseph had instructed.
At daybreak, the men were sent off with their donkeys.
They had gone only a little way from the city, when Joseph said to his chamberlain, 'Away now and follow those men. When you catch up with them, say to them, "Why have you repaid good with evil?
Is this not what my lord uses for drinking and also for reading omens? What you have done is wrong." '
So when he caught up with them he repeated these words.
They asked him, 'What does my lord mean? Your servants would never think of doing such a thing.
Look, we brought you back the money we found in the mouths of our sacks, all the way from Canaan. Are we likely to have stolen silver or gold from your master's house?
Whichever of your servants is found to have it shall die, and the rest of us shall be slaves of my lord.'
'Very well, then, it shall be as you say,' he replied, 'the one on whom it is found shall become my slave, but the rest of you can go free.'
Each of them quickly lowered his sack to the ground, and each opened his own.
He searched, beginning with the eldest and ending with the youngest, and found the cup in Benjamin's sack.
Then they tore their clothes, and when each man had reloaded his donkey they returned to the city.
When Judah and his brothers arrived at Joseph's house he was still there, so they fell on the ground in front of him.
'What do you mean by doing this?' Joseph asked them. 'Did you not know that a man such as I am is a reader of omens?'
'What can we answer my lord?' Judah replied. 'What can we say? How can we clear ourselves? God himself has uncovered your servants' guilt. Here we are then, my lord's slaves, we no less than the one in whose possession the cup was found.'
'I could not think of doing such a thing,' he replied. 'The man in whose possession the cup was found shall be my slave, but you can go back unhindered to your father.'
At this, Judah went up to him and said, 'May it please my lord, let your servant have a word privately with my lord. Do not be angry with your servant, for you are like Pharaoh himself.
My lord questioned his servants, "Have you father or brother?"
And we said to my lord, "We have an old father, and a younger brother born of his old age. His brother is dead, so he is the only one by that mother now left, and his father loves him."
Then you said to your servants, "Bring him down to me, so that I can set eyes on him."
We replied to my lord, "The boy cannot leave his father. If he leaves him, his father will die."
But you said to your servants, "If your youngest brother does not come down with you, you will not be admitted to my presence again."
When we went back to your servant my father, we repeated to him what my lord had said.
So when our father said, "Go back and get us a little food,"
we said, "We cannot go down. We shall go only if our youngest brother is with us for, unless our youngest brother is with us, we shall not be admitted to the man's presence."
So your servant our father said to us, "You know that my wife bore me two children.
When one of them left me, I supposed that he must have been torn to pieces, and I have never seen him since.
If you take this one from me too and any harm comes to him, you will send my white head down to Sheol with grief."
If I go to your servant my father now, and we do not have the boy with us, he will die as soon as he sees that the boy is not with us, for his heart is bound up with him;
and your servants will have sent your servant our father's white head down to Sheol with grief.
Now your servant went surety to my father for the boy. I said: "If I do not bring him back to you, let me bear the blame before my father all my life."
Let your servant stay, then, as my lord's slave in place of the boy, I implore you, and let the boy go back with his brothers.
How indeed could I go back to my father and not have the boy with me? I could not bear to see the misery that would overwhelm my father.'