Genesis | Chapter 44

Genesis 44:1-34

 “Regret or repentance?”

  1. Intro.
  2. Vs. 1-15 Searching out the heart
  3. III. Vs. 16-34 How shall I go to my father


The most difficult thing to weigh in all eternity is the “human heart”, fortunately that will not be something that you or I will have to do. 1 Chron 28:9 reminds us that “the LORD searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts.” But how can we determine for ourselves whether or not we have true repentance or just regrets? In chapter 42 we examined three statements that the Joseph’s brothers had concerning their treatment of him 20 years earlier:

  1. 42:21 Guilt: They clearly saw their present circumstances as the direct result of their previous actions.
  2. 42:22 Remorse: They wished they had not sold Joseph into slavery.
  3. 42:36, 43:8-9 Sorrow: They felt sorrow for what they had put their father Jacob through.

But do they have true repentance for their actions based upon those three external indicators? We can not tell as yet because it is possible to feel guilt, remorse and sorrow but have nothing more then simply “regret” for the consequences of our actions. Any time we face the consequences of our actions we will have guilt, remorse and sorrow but that does not mean that there has been true repentance. With out true repentance there can be no reconciliation. So what’s the difference between regret and repentance?

  • Repentance is the recognition of our sin, which has resulted in a sorrow that brings about change in our thinking, emotions and actions.
  • Repentance recognizes the sin, is genuinely sorry for it and demonstrates this by shunning the sin and by further seeking a new way.
  • Repentance looks at the past with a weeping eye and upon the future with a watchful eye.
  • Repentance is owning responsibility for what was, accepting responsibility for what is and acting upon responsibility for what is now!

Repentance is what we want for ourselves and we shall see in this chapter how these brothers showed that they had true repentance not just mere regret!

Vs. 1-15 Searching out the heart

Vs. 1-5 In the 43rd chapter we saw the brothers in good spirits as their fears concerning the Prime Minister had not come to fruition. Their brother Simeon had been released to them, they had been treated to a great meal in which they were the guests of honor and best of all they had been permitted to leave with their brother Benjamin. As far as they were concerned all their fears of man were for nothing. What they do not realize is that Joseph was being used of the Lord to test their hearts as to whether or not they had just regret for their past actions or if they had true repentance.

Much has been made of Joseph’s “silver cup” because of the twice-repeated phrase “practices divination”. What we know is that the Egyptians did have such a cup by which they would look into the silver cup filled with water and read the way the light reflected. We are also told in Lev. 19:26 that the Jews were told of the Lord that they were not to practice divination and yes it is the same Hebrew word as here in the 44th chapter of Genesis. So the question is Joseph involved in some forbidden pagan practice? Several points need to be brought out:

  1. In verse five it is the servant who suggests that Joseph uses the cup for divination. Perhaps he just assumed that Joseph used that cup for this? The purpose of sending this cup was to distinguish it from just an ordinary cup. It is Joseph who tells the servant what to say and it is clear that he wanted the brothers to continue to think of him as an Egyptian.
  2. In verse 15 Joseph explains that he “can” practice divination not that he does and further more he never say’s that he does so by use of the silver cup. The context would show that he wants his brothers to know that he can judge their hearts and he didn’t need the cup to do so since they had it.

Why all the intrigued? Well knowing that the servant was in on this from the start Joseph was being used of the Lord to weigh their hearts and he wanted then to think that he knew everything and in this case accused them of being guilty even though they were innocent? They had 20 years earlier declared their innocence while they were guilty the greater test of repentance is what we say and do when we are innocent and yet are being accused of being guilty! By waiting until they were outside of the city they are being tested as to what they would do when they were alone with Benjamin. It was while they were away from their father that they decided that they were going to kill Joseph out of the jealousy of the favor their father had towards him. Would they do the same by saying, “Hey the little twerp has always had sticky fingers, take the snot and do with him as you want we don’t care!

Vs. 6-15 The brother’s response is something that I’m sure each of us would have said, “Hey if we were crooks we would have ripped you off the first time I would have never brought back the money that was in our sacks of grain.” Their appeal of innocence is based upon logic because they believe the evidence will prove them as well. They are so confident of their innocence that they willingly risk what they so feared slavery and death to the one whom had the cup. In chapter 31:32 Jacob risked this not knowing that his beloved Rachel has stole her father Laban’s idols.

Notice that the servant changes the guilty plea to be only slavery upon the person in whom the cup was found & freedom to everybody else. Their quickness at opening their sacks shows the confidence they had in their innocence. Nothing is said at each finding their money in the sack but I’m sure their heart sank with every passing brothers bag was opened. When the silver cup was found in Benjamin’s bag they tore their clothes which indicated extreme sorrow. Let me suggest several signs of repentance:

  1. 13 “Each man loaded his donkey and returned to the city.” The sorrow they had as seen in tearing their clothes is seen as repentance and not mere regret because each of them loaded up and went back into the city and face the uncertainty together instead of just leaving Benjamin. Here they had a worldly justifiable opportunity to act on their own selfish behalf and they didn’t. What we believe is not known by what we say and do while others are around but rather it is know by what we do when no one is around and we have every opportunity to act in a manor that others would consider alright.
  2. 14-15 “They fell before him on the ground.” There is no attempt to want justice only mercy and Joseph wants to see haw they will react when they think he knows everything & Benjamin is the one whom the cup was found.

III. Vs. 16-34 How shall I go to my father

  1. Vs. 16-17 “What shall we say to my lord? What shall we speak? Or how shall we clear ourselves? God has found out the iniquity of your servants”: It is interesting that Judah was the one that has suggested Joseph’s slavery, here he not only does not suggest any excuse he offers no defense or explanation. What is foremast in his mind is not what he doesn’t deserve but rather what he does deserve which is far greater then what ever Joseph could bring upon him. A person’s heart is not revealed if they have no choice it only is manifested when they have a choice. Thus Joseph’s say’s that only Benjamin will be forced to stay everybody else is free to go.
  2. Vs. 18-29 Here is one of the greatest passages in all of scripture dealing with confession and repentance. The irony is that Judah is confessing this before the very person whom he 20 year’s prior suggested his slavery. Judah is careful not to say that he is dead only that he has not been seen since, (verse 28).
  3. Vs. 30-34 In one of the greatest examples of what Jesus has done for us Judah offers his life for that of Benjamin’s and just like Jesus it was based upon his love for the father as well as a love for his brother. A 1000 years later a child would be born from Judah that was willing to be come a slave that we might go free. And what must we do in order to be set free? Simply repent of our sins and trust only on Him. The evidence of love and repentance for Judah is his willingness to sacrifice.