Genesis 44:5 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 44:5, NIV: Isn't this the cup my master drinks from and also uses for divination? This is a wicked thing you have done.''

Genesis 44:5, ESV: Is it not from this that my lord drinks, and by this that he practices divination? You have done evil in doing this.’”

Genesis 44:5, KJV: Is not this it in which my lord drinketh, and whereby indeed he divineth? ye have done evil in so doing.

Genesis 44:5, NASB: Is this not that from which my lord drinks, and which he indeed uses for divination? You have done wrong in doing this!’?'

Genesis 44:5, NLT: Why have you stolen my master's silver cup, which he uses to predict the future? What a wicked thing you have done!''

Genesis 44:5, CSB: Isn't this the cup that my master drinks from and uses for divination? What you have done is wrong! ' "

What does Genesis 44:5 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Joseph has commanded his steward to chase down his 11 brothers, already on their way back to Canaan (Genesis 44:1–4). When the steward catches up to them, he is to speak to them as if they've done something wrong. The servant was told to specifically ask about a silver cup. They are unaware it has been placed in Benjamin's sack by the steward himself, on Joseph's orders. They also have no idea that Joseph is Joseph (Genesis 42:8); they have not yet recognized the powerful Egyptian governor as their estranged brother.

The steward must emphasize that they have done evil in stealing the cup. He is to emphasize this cup is the one the Egyptian ruler drinks from. It is a personal item, and one he uses for "divination." Divination is the practice of using materials—such as liquids, bones, dice, cards, or animal organs—to supernaturally seek out information. This has been a common practice in most cultures throughout history. Since it seeks to uncover information God has not provided, and can put the diviner in contact with demons, it would be strictly forbidden by God's Law to the Israelites (Deuteronomy 18:10).

It's extremely unlikely that Joseph truly practiced divination. The One, true God Himself revealed things to Joseph without the use of any kind of apparatus (Genesis 37:5–9; 41:25–28). Most likely, Joseph told the steward to mention divination to further his brothers' assumption that he was an Egyptian lord.