The Silver Cup In Benjamin’s Sack

“Then they speedily took down every man his sack to the ground, and opened every man his sack. And he searched, and began at the eldest, and left at the youngest: and the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack.” (Genesis 44:11-12)

After the brothers of Joseph are confronted with the accusation of stealing the silver cup, it isn’t hard to imagine the outrage and indignation that they must have felt. This Egyptian ruler first accused them of being spies sent into the land to observe its weaknesses (Gen. 42:9) and now he was accusing them of this! Just what exactly must they do in order to prove that they are honest men? They protest vehemently to the steward bringing the message and even offer up as evidence the fact that they had attempted to repay the money previously returned into their sacks. So certain are they that every man among them is guiltless that they offer up anyone possessing the article to be put to death. Additionally, they vow that if such a man is found among them then the rest will all voluntarily submit to a life of indenture.

And so the search begins as the steward and his servants begin to rummage through the personal effects contained within each man’s luggage. They begin with the eldest brother, Reuben, and work their way down to the youngest from there. We can imagine the brothers standing close by, watching as each sack is carefully examined, becoming more and more confident of their collective innocence with each set of belongings inspected. As the Egyptians came to the sacks of Dan, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher, the brothers must have been expectant of complete exoneration. Most of them must have already loaded their belongings back into place and made ready to move out as the final bags were checked. Then, to their utter horror and shock, the words rang out: “Here it is, I’ve found it.”
We know that Benjamin was not actually guilty of stealing the cup, but this scene is a reminder of the guilt that every person does carry. Sadly, there are those who live their lives with the same expectation of full exoneration that the sons of Jacob had; believing that even God Almighty will find no fault in them. Like the rich young ruler, they will stand before their Creator and confidently declare: “All these things [the commandments of God] have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?” (Matt. 19:20). The Lord Jesus made an examination of that young ruler’s life and searched through it as the Egyptian steward searched through the sacks of the brothers of Joseph. He named off several of the Ten Commandments to which the young man plead not guilty. There was no silver cup found in those sacks, it would seem. But just as the cup was eventually found among Joseph’s brothers possessions, so was sin found in the young man’s life.
We might think that we carry no guilt before God because we haven’t murdered anyone, we haven’t committed adultery, we haven’t given false testimony against anyone (although according to God’s standards as given by the Lord Jesus at the Sermon on the Mount, we would all most likely be guilty in those areas, as well), but everyone is guilty of violating at least some of God’s holy commandments. Romans 3:23 tells us that all have sinned and failed to live up to God’s standards. We need a Savior Who will forgive our sins and shortcomings and make us right with God before we stand before Him. There will be many who will come before God one day and be so confident of their own innocence that they will agree with the sentiment of the brothers of Joseph: “With whomsoever sin be found, let him die…” They will proudly offer up their own sacks for examination, believing none of them to be stained with the guilt of sin. Yet the search of each these individuals will regrettfully end the same: “Here it is, I have found it.” Let us trust in the Lord today and confess our sins to Him.