Genesis 44:13

ESV Then they tore their clothes, and every man loaded his donkey, and they returned to the city.
NIV At this, they tore their clothes. Then they all loaded their donkeys and returned to the city.
NASB Then they tore their clothes in grief, and when each man had loaded his donkey, they returned to the city.
CSB Then they tore their clothes, and each one loaded his donkey and returned to the city.
NLT When the brothers saw this, they tore their clothing in despair. Then they loaded their donkeys again and returned to the city.
KJV Then they rent their clothes, and laded every man his ass, and returned to the city.

What does Genesis 44:13 mean?

Joseph was sold into slavery by his jealous older brothers (Genesis 37:24–28). Twenty years later, he has become the governor of all Egypt (Genesis 41:44). When his brothers arrived in Egypt to buy food, they did not recognize him (Genesis 42:7–8). This began a series of tests, which has now led to this moment.

Returning from a second trip, bringing the youngest brother, Benjamin (Genesis 43:1–2; 14), the men have been accused of stealing a valuable silver cup. They don't realize the cup has been planted in Benjamin's sack by Joseph's own steward (Genesis 44:1–6). The men protest their innocence (Genesis 44:7–8). They recklessly vow that if the cup is found, the thief will be killed, and the others will become slaves (Genesis 44:9). The steward only demands that the culprit become a slave, and the men offer their sacks for inspection (Genesis 44:10–11).

To the brothers' horror, the cup is found in Benjamin's sack. As they see it, their father's worst nightmare has been realized. Jacob was terrified to send Benjamin after already losing Joseph (Genesis 42:4; 43:3–4; 14). It appears his beloved son has just been sentenced to a lifetime of slavery in Egypt. The others tear their clothes as a sign of their grief and loss. Judah must have felt especially heartbroken. He had pledged himself for Benjamin's safe return to Jacob, promising to carry the guilt forever if he failed to bring the boy back (Genesis 43:8–9).

The steward had said that only the man who was found with the silver cup would be made a servant of his master. The rest would be free to go. Joseph's brothers, however, do not leave. Not only do they grieve for their brother, but they also refuse to abandon him in Egypt. From Joseph's perspective, this will help demonstrate they have truly changed in the years since they heartlessly sold him into Egyptian slavery. As they return, Joseph will be able to further test their resolve. Will they put their own desires, even at the cost of a brother, and to the grief of their father, over doing what's right?
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