Joseph Makes Mugs of His Brothers
After dinner, Joseph told his slave, ‘Fill my brother’s sacks with food, put their silver on top, but put my favourite mug, you know, the one that has, “Walk like an Egyptian” on it in hieroglyphs, into Benjamin’s sack. This is going to be hilarious!’
2 So, his slave did as he was told (he had no choice, for he was a slave).
3 In the morning, his brothers set off on their donkeys back to Canaan. 4 Joseph waited a little while, and told his slave, ‘Now, this is where the joke pays off. Go after my brothers and say to them, “You stole my master’s favourite mug! He gave you a nice meal and lots of grain, and now you’ve gone and done this!” 5 Make it really dramatic. I can’t wait to see the looks on their faces!’
6 So, the slave went after Joseph’s brothers. When he caught up with them not far from the city, he accused them of stealing Joseph’s mug. The brothers were shocked.
7 ‘We did nothing of the sort!’ protested Judah. ‘How dare you accuse of us such a thing? 8 I mean, we even brought back the silver that we accidentally took! How could you think we’d steal his cup? 9 Tell you what, if any of us have it, he’ll become Joseph’s slave, but if one of his slaves has the mug, we’ll kill him. Sound fair?’
10 ‘Wait, what?’ replied the slave. ‘You’d become a slave, but one of us would be killed? How’s that fair?’
‘You’re just slaves,’ replied Judah. ‘It’s not like you’re people.’
11 The slave ignored him, and searched all of the brothers’ sacks. 12 Lo and behold, he found the mug in Benjamin’s sack. 13 Joseph’s brothers all screamed, ‘No!!!!!’ and tore their clothes in the melodramatic manner that Hebrews were prone to. So, they all loaded up their donkeys and returned to the city with the slave.
14 When they arrived back at Joseph’s house, they threw themselves to the floor.
15 ‘Why have you done this?’ scolded Joseph.
‘Prostrating oneself is a sign of respect where we come from,’ replied Levi.
‘No, you idiot,’ yelled Joseph, ‘stealing my mug!’
‘Oh,’ replied Levi.
16 ‘We’re sorry,’ sobbed Judah. ‘Benjamin’s just a kid. He doesn’t know any better. I suppose you’re going to enslave us now.’
17 ‘What gives you the idea that the Egyptians enslave people?’ declared Joseph as his slaves stood stunned. ‘No, I’m not going to enslave you, only the one who stole my mug. The rest of you can fuck off.’
18 Judah spent twenty verses recounting everything that had happened so far. 33 Then he said, ‘Please, take me in Benjamin’s place. 34 I can’t face my father if I don’t have Benjamin with me, plus, I told him he can kill my kids.’
Joseph could no longer hold back his laughter, so he sent all of his slaves out of the room. 2 He guffawed so loudly that everyone in Egypt heard him. 3 He declared, ‘I am your brother Joseph! You guys should have seen your faces!’
His brothers were too traumatised to speak.
‘Hello?’ he said waving his hand in front of his brothers.
‘That was a really cruel trick!’ spat Judah.
4 ‘Well, you guys did sell me to the Ishmaelites or Midianites. 5 I can’t remember which it was exactly.’
‘Yeah,’ interjected Zebulun. ‘We’re a little hazy about that ourselves. Also, I’d like to know how two of Abraham’s sons produced major peoples within just a few generations.’
6 Joseph continued, ‘You know, with the famine in the land, there’s been no ploughing here for two years.’
‘What?’ exclaimed Reuben. ‘So, not only is there famine, but we can’t get laid?’
Simeon whispered to him that he meant cultivating the crops.
7 ‘I’m sure that God sent me here for a purpose,’ said Joseph. 8 ‘I’ve become a powerful man, governor of Egypt, and if it weren’t for you selling me into slavery, everyone would be starving right now.’
‘See, that’s the kind of superior attitude that made us hate you to begin with!’ moaned Asher.
‘Shhh,’ rebuked Judah.
9 Joseph ignored them and continued, ‘I have an idea. 10 Why don’t you bring our father down and you can all live in Goshen? 11 Bring your families, your flocks and herds, whatever you have. 12 I’ll take care of you all and make sure you can eat during the famine. 13 Hurry, I really want to see Dad again.’
14 Then Joseph went and threw his arms around Benjamin crying, and Benjamin burst into tears too. 15 Pretty soon, all of the brothers were weeping and hugging each other. Joseph’s slaves heard the commotion, and came to see what was going on. When they saw the brothers crying, they too started to weep and hug.
16 Now, word got back to Pharaoh that there was a weird cuddle-fest going on at Joseph’s house, so he went down to see what the hell was going on. 17 When he was told, he said to them, ‘Go and load your donkeys and go back to Canaan, and bring your families down. 18 I’ve got some fat I’d like you all to eat.’
‘Wait, what?’ exclaimed Judah.
‘Yeah, I’ve got excess fat I need used up.’
‘Thanks, but no thanks,’ replied Judah.
19 Pharaoh continued, ‘It might be an idea for you to take some carts to bring back your families. 20 You don’t have to bring any of your stuff with you, if it’s anything like what you’ve got with you, it’s pretty tacky Canaanite shit; I’ll give you fancy new Egyptian stuff.’
‘But I like my stuff!’ cried Zebulun.
‘Shhh…’ scolded Judah. ‘We don’t want to leave Hebrew artefacts in Egypt for archaeologists to find or anything.’
21 So, Joseph gave his brothers carts and some food to eat for the journey, and he had their Canaanite clothes burnt and bought them some Egyptian ones. 22 He also gave Benjamin five lots clothing and some money. 23 He sent them back with cartloads of grain and, knowing fine well that they’d have to bring them back with them.
24 As his brothers left, Joseph called to them, ‘Oh, and don’t get into arguments on the way!’
Asher turned to Issachar and said, ‘Why did he say that?’
‘Why the fuck are you asking me?’ spat Issachar.
‘You’re the one who starts all the arguments!’ sneered Gad.
‘At least you guys didn’t end up being sodomised for months on end!’ wailed Simeon.
‘Oh, my sack is so full!’ whined Levi.
‘You and your fucking sack!’ chided Reuben.
When the brothers arrived back in Canaan, they told their father Jacob, ‘Joseph is alive, and he’s a governor in Egypt!’
Jacob fainted. When he came around, they showed him all of the stuff they’d got from Egypt.
‘So, you’ve been off thieving again!’ accused Jacob.
‘No,’ protested Reuben, ‘we got all of this from Joseph!’
‘It’s true, Dad,’ added Benjamin. ‘I saw him myself!’
Jacob smiled and said, ‘Oh, well if Benjamin says it’s true, I’m convinced. I must go to see him before I die.’
‘Don’t be so fucking morbid!’ scolded Reuben.