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his search, and consent that if the cup be found in any of them, that person, to whom the sack belonged, should be put to death, and all the rest would be his bondmen. The search commenced; it was carried on without any appearance of the cup, through the sacks of all, till that of the youngest alone remained, and when they were confidently anticipating a complete acquittal, lo, even there the cup was found. Nothing could be more amazing or distressing. The charge had been proved by discovery of the property stolen, and proved against the very person, whom of all they could most wish to save. They knew not what to say; but full of fear and distress they reloaded their beasts, and returned to the city, to abide the doom which might be decreed to them. They were brought before Joseph; they were severely taxed with both baseness and folly in stealing the cup, and Judah, as spokesman for the whole, felt himself in such a dilemma, that he could offer nothing in the way of denial or excuse; he could only submit to the justice of Joseph, and to the sentence which themselves had
allowed. He said thus, "What shall we say unto my Lord? what shall we speak ? or how shall we clear ourselves? God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants: behold we are my Lord's servants, both we, and he also with whom the cup is found." What iniquity was in the mind of Judah when he uttered these words? We cannot think that he believed that Benjamin had really been guilty of the theft. He probably suspected that this was a plot contrived for their ruin; but he dared not to say so. We We may well suppose that he referred to that former iniquity of theirs which had before been brought so forcibly on their consciences; and we may conceive that Joseph also would know that that was the crime of which he was thinking, having overheard him express the same sentiment before, and would sympathize with him in all the painful emotions which he felt.
But Joseph professed to require no more than a just and deserved punishment; he did not desire that the innocent should suffer with the guilty, and therefore he said, "God
forbid that I should do so;" that is, make them all his bondmen, "but the man in whose hand the cup is found, he shall be my servant; and as for you, get you up in peace unto your father." Now Judah saw the opening of a door of hope, since only one was to suffer, a way appeared by which perhaps he might be able to obtain liberty for Benjamin. He therefore requested permission to speak, and proceeded to make one of the most pathetic pleadings which is any where to be found. His natural feelings taught him the summit of the art of persuasion, and enabled him to bring forward every argument which might move the judge to pity, and induce him to grant his request. He began by endeavouring to conciliate him by the most respectful words. Then he reminded him that he had himself required that Benjamin should be brought into Egypt; that they had represented to him that their aged father was so attached to that particular child that he could not bear to part with him; and that Joseph had peremptorily insisted that they should fetch him, as the only way by which
they could clear themselves in his mind of being spies. He informed him next of the grief which his father had felt when constrained to send him with them, and that nothing but extreme necessity had overcome his reluctance; he related in most affecting language the declaration of his father that if mischief should befal him, they would bring down his gray hairs with sorrow to the grave. He told him that if Benjamin did not return with them, his father would surely die, and they all would thus become the occasion of his most sorrowful death. Then he added that he had himself become surety for him to his father, and had engaged to bring him back in safety, or to bear the blame for ever. Finally he made this magnanimous and most affectionate proposal, that he himself would remain in bondage, in the stead of his brother, and that Benjamin should be allowed to return to his father, closing with a strong burst of filial feeling that he could not bear to go back and see the misery which his father would suffer, if Benjamin was not restored to him.
I have not time to expatiate on this very
moving address of Judah, or on the noble offer with which he concluded. Neither can I enlarge upon a subject, which must also be recalled to our minds, namely, the love and pleadings, and actual substitution, of another and greater surety, who suffered for us, the just for the unjust, that he might obtain our deliverance from the sentence of the law and procure our return in peace to our father in heaven.
The effect of his address was far beyond what Judah had anticipated. The judge appeared in strong emotion; he commanded all his Egyptian attendants to retire; he wept aloud; and with an abruptness that shewed that his feelings could be kept in no bounds, he cried, "I am Joseph; doth my father yet live ?" expressing in one breath this most extraordinary discovery of himself to them, and his own delight to have learned from them that his aged father was still alive, an event so happy and gratifying to him that he scarcely knew how to believe it. What mingled feelings would this so unexpected discovery produce in the breasts of the brethren!