[Joseph's steward] said, "Let it be as you say: he who is found with it shall be my servant, and the rest of you shall be innocent."
Mortification Will Be Turned to Joy
God is not planning evil against [the brothers] and is not aiming at their destruction. No, it is His purpose to humble and mortify them, in order that the subsequent glory, freedom, and joy may be greater and sweeter. Accordingly, the master of Joseph's house does not cease examining the sacks of each one after finding the money but goes on searching for the cup. He discovers it in the sack of Benjamin, who was the most innocent one of all. Now all pride, smugness, exultation, and triumphing perish wretchedly in one moment, since they were at the highest point of smugness and could not be in doubt about Benjamin's sanctity, and all the rest were guiltless. Here they are suddenly cast down in spirit, and all the confidence they had gained is taken away. Now all joy is over and completely gone, so that it could not have been removed more ignominiously. This is what our Lord God does.
"Far be it from your servants to do such a thing!"
[The brothers] rely on their righteousness and merits to remove the crime with which they have been charged, and they want to be completely exonerated. For this confidence in man's righteousness and freedom from danger is so great that it thinks God is a fool and a weakling who is not able to hold such saintly men responsible for any crime. But they will have to learn the prayer of David (Psalm 19:12): "Who can discern his errors? Clear Thou me from hidden faults." . . . We are corrupted by original sin, so that we can be accused and found guilty before God in a thousand ways when to ourselves we seem to be completely righteous. And if we ever are proud and do not remain in the fear of God and faith, 'He sets a huge mass of sins before us—sins of which we were ignorant, as Moses says in Psalm 90:8. . . . But these brothers are not only smug in regard to secret sins; they also claim innocence in the very worst cause. "There is no need to be worried; we know that we are innocent!" Indeed, they even bring the hardest sentence against themselves by saying, "Let him with whom you find the cup die." This is indeed the fruit of self-righteousness, which makes men smug and stubborn. . .. Therefore they are hurled down to the depths of hell by God's thunderbolt.
Joseph said to his steward, "Up, follow after the men, and when you overtake them, say to them, 'Why have you repaid evil for good?' "
The brothers, who had been treated in such a kindly manner and had been filled with joy, flattered themselves with wonderful rhetoric and congratulated themselves on the success of their plans. . .. They undoubtedly intended to relate at home that they had been affectionately invited by the ruler of the land and had been treated very sumptuously, not at an inn but at the court of the ruler, but that Benjamin above all had been treated with the greatest honor, since his portion was increased fivefold in comparison with the share of the others. . . . But this glorying in their righteousness and wisdom disappears in a brief moment. Therefore whether the days are good or evil, we should learn to fear God in a spirit of such steadfastness and equability that we sing psalms to the Lord in our hearts not only in peaceful and pleasant times but also in times of misery. If fortune is favorable, enjoy it, and be grateful; but if it is adverse, call upon God to remove or mitigate your troubles, yes, to be your one and highest Refuge. For this confidence and glory in the merits of wisdom and righteousness—the confidence with which these brothers boasted of having reached such great honor on the strength of their own virtues—must be mortified and abolished.
And he lifted up his eyes and saw his brother Benjamin. ... . "God be gracious to you, my son!"
A Beloved Brother
[Joseph] sees [Benjamin] in his house. . .. Here his natural affections assert themselves, and he weeps at the sight of his brother and at the mention of his father. "God be gracious to you," he says, "and show you favor, my son!" These words stirred his heart very deeply, for he is affected not only by the sight of his brother but also by the recollection of his mother and his father and of everything that had happened at home. He recalled that his very sweet mother had died in childbirth on account of this son Benjamin in the year before he was sold. At the same time he thought of the many great troubles his parents and he himself had to endure throughout their life, especially during the two years before his mother died, and that he had been sold to the Ishmaelites at the end of the year in which Benjamin was born. There is no doubt that he saw all this in his mind's eye when he caught sight of his brother. And his heart burned with the most tender affection toward Benjamin and his parents. Therefore he says: "God be gracious to you, my son." It is as though he were saying: "With what great pain our mother bore you! With what great difficulties and cares my father and I were tormented until it was granted me to enjoy the sight of you and your company!" Now his heart melts in tears.