Au Revoir

*During the meal* with his brothers – who had come to Egypt from Canaan to buy food – Joseph snuck away to find his steward who was lurking behind the de facto prime ministerial tent. Joseph said to the steward, “I’d like for you to fill these men’s packs with lots of food. Also, the silver they each brought with them, put it back in their packs, and put my silver goblet into Benjamin’s pack.”

“You’re sure about the silver goblet?” said the steward, “I know it’s very precious to you. It must be worth a fortune.”

“Don’t try to second-guess me, steward,” said Joseph, ”do only as I say.”

***

The next morning the brothers loaded up their donkeys and took their leave of Joseph.

“Thanks awfully, Mr de facto Prime Minister, for the sumptuous meal and your overall hospitality,” said Reuben. “I speak for all my brothers when I say we’re terribly grateful. And I know Benjamin is especially so, for you gave him such large helpings during the meal that he must have been about to burst. Isn’t that true Benjy?”

“I’m still feeling stuffed,” said Benjamin, who couldn’t suppress a loud burp.

“Benjy, that’s not polite in front of the de facto prime minister,” said Reuben. “Please apologise.”

“No need for Benjamin to do that,” said Joseph, “he was just showing in the classic Egyptian way how much he appreciated the meal. We’ll make of him a bona fide Egyptian yet.”

“Well, another time perhaps,” said Reuben. “Benjy is, after all, returning to Canaan with us. Who knows when we’ll see Egypt again.”

“I have this feeling we’ll soon be meeting again.” said Joseph, “so I’ll say au revoir rather than good-bye.”

Au revoir, then,” said the brothers as they rode away.

***

When the brothers had become mere dots on the horizon, Joseph summoned his steward, and said, “I want you to go after those brothers. When you reach them you are to say, ‘Why have you repaid good with evil? Why have you stolen the de facto prime minister’s silver goblet – the goblet he not only drinks from, but uses also for divination. You have done a wicked thing.’ Can you remember all that?

“I…..I think so, sire.”

“Repeat it, then.”

The steward repeated back the words.

“Remarkable” said Joseph. “You got everything right the first time. I couldn’t have done that. You’re fitted for better things, I can see.”

“I don’t understand, sire. You told me to put the goblet in Benjamin’s pack. Don’t you remember?”

“Of course I remember. Do as I say, and no questions.”

“What you’re doing, sire, doesn’t seem quite…..well……ethical, if you don’t mind my saying.”

“I do mind your saying. Any more backchat, and things may go exceedingly bad for you. My executioner doesn’t have a full calendar right now, and could do with more work. Understand….mmm?”

***

The brothers, and particularly their donkeys, were finding it hard-going as they slogged through the desert because of all the food plus silver they had to carry, and not to speak of being scorched under the broiling sun. They saw behind them far away a tiny speck that kept getting bigger. It finally got so big that the brothers could not help but see it was Joseph’s steward and some other men riding on camels.

“Oy, you” shouted the steward at the brothers, “Why have you repaid good with evil? Why have you stolen the de facto prime minister’s silver goblet – the goblet he not only drinks from, but uses also for divination. You have done a wicked thing.”

“What’s this gibberish you’re talking?” shouted back Reuben.

The steward and his men had by now surrounded the brothers.

“Open your packs for inspection,” said the steward.

“You may search them,” said Reuben, “but you definitely won’t find the de facto prime minister’s goblet. We’re  men of honour, sons of Jacob no less. It’s as unthinkable that we stole the goblet as it is that there’s no God.”

“We didn’t come here for a metaphysical discussion,” said the steward. “The sooner we search your packs the sooner this unpleasantness is finished.”

When the goblet was found in the pack of Benjamin, his brothers were (understandably) furious.

“How could you do this, Benjy,” said Reuben.

“Yes, Benjy, how could you do this,” said Judah, “I know. It must be because your mother was Rachel, not Leah, who our mother was.”

“Speak for yourselves, Brother Reuben and Brother Judah,” said Naphtali. “You forget that the mothers of some of us were neither Leah nor Rachel.

“I’m innocent, my brothers,” wailed Benjamin, “I put nothing in my pack that wasn’t mine. Honest.”

Source: Genesis 44, 1 – 12

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This entry was posted in Benjamin, Jacob, Joseph, Judah, Leah, Naphtali, Rachel, Reuben and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Au Revoir

  1. dafna says:

    Christopher, the dialogue is priceless. I really laughed out loud at, “We didn’t come here for a metaphysical discussion”!

  2. Richard says:

    Poisoned chalice or Holy Grail?

    Some parting gift! 🙂

    I wish you well.

    Richard

  3. Christopher says:

    @Dafna – I’m glad you enjoyed the dialogue. The most important thing about it, though, is that it’s all true!!

    @Richard – It may not be for nothing that “Gift” in German means “poison”.

  4. Man of Roma says:

    So it seems that the ancient Jews too utilized foreign words as embellishments.
    Thomas wrote *a post* about this habit (strangely surviving today) that might interest you.
    Very beautifully written, as usual, your rendering of the Bible.

  5. Christopher says:

    Do Italian speakers and writers use foreign words as embellishments?

    I read Thomas’s posting with interest.

    Your blog seems to be taking a rest. I hope it resumes soon.

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