Genesis 44:16 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 44:16, NIV: What can we say to my lord?' Judah replied. 'What can we say? How can we prove our innocence? God has uncovered your servants' guilt. We are now my lord's slaves--we ourselves and the one who was found to have the cup.'

Genesis 44:16, ESV: And Judah said, “What shall we say to my lord? What shall we speak? Or how can we clear ourselves? God has found out the guilt of your servants; behold, we are my lord’s servants, both we and he also in whose hand the cup has been found.”

Genesis 44:16, KJV: And Judah said, What shall we say unto my lord? what shall we speak? or how shall we clear ourselves? God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants: behold, we are my lord's servants, both we, and he also with whom the cup is found.

Genesis 44:16, NASB: So Judah said, 'What can we say to my lord? What words can we speak? And how can we justify ourselves? God has found out the guilt of your servants; behold, we are my lord’s slaves, both we and the one in whose possession the cup has been found.'

Genesis 44:16, NLT: Judah answered, 'Oh, my lord, what can we say to you? How can we explain this? How can we prove our innocence? God is punishing us for our sins. My lord, we have all returned to be your slaves--all of us, not just our brother who had your cup in his sack.'

Genesis 44:16, CSB: "What can we say to my lord? " Judah replied. "How can we plead? How can we justify ourselves? God has exposed your servants' iniquity. We are now my lord's slaves--both we and the one in whose possession the cup was found."

What does Genesis 44:16 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Judah becomes the spokesman for the rest of his brothers at this point. He takes a different approach in responding to Joseph's harsh words about stealing his valuable silver cup (Genesis 44:14–15). Judah knows they are innocent (Genesis 44:2, 7). Rather than attempt to argue with the powerful Egyptian governor (Genesis 41:44), he simply throws himself on Joseph's mercy.

Judah recognizes this is an impossible situation. The "guilt" he speaks of, in this case, is likely that of selling Joseph—the same person he does not recognize standing in front of him—into slavery years ago (Genesis 42:21–23). He knows he has committed sins worthy of punishment. Whether the exact crime being discussed was his, or not, Judah isn't trying to claim innocence. He simply begs for a form of mercy: at first, by asking that all eleven men stay, rather than Benjamin, alone.

This will set up the ultimate test of Jacob's sons: an offer to save themselves from slavery, at the cost of their youngest brother (Genesis 44:17). The same ten men who once sold Joseph out of jealousy (Genesis 37:24–28) will be tempted to abandon another brother simply to remain free. Their reaction, particularly that of Judah, will have an enormous impact on Joseph.