The Silver Cup

by Jeanne Pallos based on Genesis 44-45

“Stop, thieves!”

A palace servant on horseback shouted to the men on donkeys.

Reuben recognized the governor of Egypt’s top servant. “Why is he following us?”

Before anyone could answer, the man jumped off his horse and forced the 11 brothers to stop.

“One of you has stolen the governor’s silver cup,” the man shouted. “Is this how you repay the governor for the kindness he showed you during your visit?”

Reuben stepped forward. “Sir, these men are my brothers. I am the oldest, and I can assure you none of us stole the governor’s silver cup. Search our bags of grain. If you find the cup in one of our sacks, then take us as your prisoners. If one of us has the cup, he will die.”

The servant nodded.

He pushed his hand deep into Reuben’s bag. “Nothing,” he muttered. He searched each sack. Finally he came to Reuben’s youngest brother, Benjamin. When he opened Benjamin’s sack, something shiny tumbled out.

“Thief!” the servant yelled, lifting the silver cup from the ground. “You are the one who has stolen the governor’s prized cup.”

“I didn’t take it,” Benjamin said. “I don’t know how it got in my sack.”

“Tell that to the governor,” the man said. He grabbed Benjamin’s arm. 

“Wait,” Reuben said, “if you take our youngest brother, then you must take all of us.” 

Back at the palace, the governor paced back and forth. “Do you not realize that Pharaoh has made me the most powerful man in all of Egypt?” he said. “I gave you food to take back to your starving families in Canaan, and this is how you repay me—by stealing?”

The brothers bowed low. “Sir,” Reuben’s brother Judah said, “you have shown us great kindness. We would never steal from you.”

“Then how did my silver cup get into your brother’s sack?” the governor asked. “He is the only one who has done wrong. The rest of you can return home.”

“Please, take me as your prisoner,” Judah said. “Our father has already lost one son. If he loses Benjamin, his youngest child, he will die.”

Reuben thought about the day many years ago when he and his brothers threw their younger brother, Joseph, into a pit. They had been jealous of Joseph and the beautiful coat their father had given him.

Reuben had gone back later to save Joseph, but his brothers had already sold him to a passing caravan. The brothers told their father that wild animals had killed Joseph.

“Do you know who I am?” The governor’s words broke into Reuben’s thoughts.

Reuben looked into the governor’s eyes and trembled.

“I am Joseph,” the governor said. “I am the brother you sold into slavery.”

Reuben lowered his head in shame. Joseph placed his hand on Reuben’s shoulder.

“Don’t be angry with yourselves because you sold me here,” he said. “God sent me ahead of you to save many lives during this famine.”

Joseph lifted Reuben to his feet and hugged him. “Now go and bring your families and our dear father to me,” Joseph said. “He must know that his son lives.” 

This article originally appeared in the August 2009 issue of Focus on the Family Clubhouse Jr. magazine. Copyright © 2009 Christian Elden. Used by permission. Illustration © Gary Locke.