Then they tore their clothes, and every man loaded his donkey, and they returned to the city. Genesis 44:13
Joseph needed to know if his brothers had changed. Would they still grieve the father? Did they still hate the dearly loved son? He devised a test to find out.
The test centered around Benjamin, who was also born to Jacob through Rachel. Jacob loved Benjamin as he loved Joseph. The brothers had hated Joseph because he was so greatly loved by their father. Did they also hate Benjamin?
The first test was at the banquet: “Portions were taken to them from Joseph’s table, but Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as any of theirs” (43:34). Joseph watched carefully. Would they start muttering and complaining? They did not react negatively—so far, so good.
Then the steward placed Joseph’s silver cup in Benjamin’s sack. This was the second part of the test. Soon after the brothers left the city, Joseph’s men went after them and confronted them. They accused the brothers of stealing the silver cup. Confident they had done nothing wrong, the brothers told the men if any of them had the silver cup, then that person should die. One by one the sacks were opened and nothing was found. But when Benjamin’s sack was opened, a flash of silver gleamed in the light of the sun. “The cup was found in Benjamin’s sack” (44:12).
This was the great turning point. Would the brothers give up Benjamin to save themselves? They were back in the same position as when they sold Joseph into slavery in Egypt twenty years ago. Would they grieve the father’s heart again? Would they hate the dearly loved son again, leaving him to die in Egypt?
But the brothers tore their clothes in grief and returned to the city where Joseph waited (44:13). There was evidence of transformation! They were not the same men. “We cannot go back to the father and add sorrow to his sorrow. We cannot give up Benjamin, his dearly loved son.”
Has God tested you like this? If so, what do you think He wants to teach you?