Zaphenath summoned his steward and said, “Take these men’s empty sacks and overfill them with food. Then put their money back at the top of each sack.”
“Yes, lord,” the steward said.
“Take my cup,” Zaphenath continued, “and put it in the sack that belongs to Benjamin, the youngest brother.”
The brothers didn’t understand the Egyptian tongue and didn’t know what was happening.
“Yes, lord.” The steward took the royal cup and left the assembly.
The next morning, the brothers loaded their donkeys and took to the road leading out of the city. They hadn’t gone far when Zaphenath directed his steward again.
“Go, overtake the brothers on the road and ask, ‘Why have you betrayed your lord who treated you with love and compassion? He has given you everything, and yet you’ve stolen his silver cup!’”
So the steward and his retinue overtook the brothers, who had just begun their long journey into the harsh wilderness to Canaan.
“Halt! Why have you stolen your lord’s silver cup when he treated you with so much respect? Does he not drink from his cup and use it to divine the will of God?”
Reuben, in shock, replied, “Why are you accusing us of this? We’d never do that! We brought back the money we found at the top of our sacks on our first visit. Stealing from our lord doesn’t make any sense.”
“Nevertheless, you have done this evil thing. This is how Israel’s sons repay Egypt’s hospitality.”
“If you find our lord’s cup in anyone’s possession,” Judah said, white knuckles clutching his staff, “put him to death.”
“More than that, “Reuben added, “we will all return with you and become slaves in your house.”
“By my lord’s will, who is merciful,” the steward said, dismounting his horse, “whoever has the cup will return with us as a slave of the house. The rest of you may go free.”
Every brother dropped his sack to the ground and untied it. The steward went around to every bag, beginning with Reuben the elder and ending with Benjamin the younger.
“What have we here?”
When the steward found the cup in Benjamin’s sack, his men tied Benjamin’s wrists and escorted him back to the palace.
The brothers tore their garments and lamented until the sun shone directly overhead. Then, just as they had done earlier that morning, they fastened their loads, but instead of going home, they went back to the city.
Inspiration: Genesis 44