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[136] The horsemen therefore took Benjamin and brought him to Joseph, his brethren also following him; who, when he saw him in custody, and them in the habit of mourners, said, "How came you, vile wretches as you are, to have such a strange notion of my kindness to you, and of God's providence, as impudently to do thus to your benefactor, who in such an hospitable manner had entertained you ?" Whereupon they gave up themselves to be punished, in order to save Benjamin; and called to mind what a wicked enterprise they had been guilty of against Joseph. They also pronounced him more happy than themselves, if he were dead, in being freed from the miseries of this life; and if he were alive, that he enjoyed the pleasure of seeing God's vengeance upon them. They said further; that they were the plague of their father, since they should now add to his former affliction for Joseph, this other affliction for Benjamin. Reubel also was large in cutting them upon this occasion. But Joseph dismissed them; for he said they had been guilty of no offense, and that he would content himself with the lad's punishment; for he said it was not a fit thing to let him go free, for the sake of those who had not offended; nor was it a fit thing to punish them together with him who had been guilty of stealing. And when he promised to give them leave to go away in safety, the rest of them were under great consternation, and were able to say nothing on this sad occasion. But Judas, who had persuaded their father to send the lad from him, being otherwise also a very bold and active man, determined to hazard himself for the preservation of his brother. "It is true," 1 said he, "O governor, that we have been very wicked with regard to thee, and on that account deserved punishment; even all of us may justly be punished, although the theft were not committed by all, but only by one of us, and he the youngest also; but yet there remains some hope for us, who otherwise must be under despair on his account, and this from thy goodness, which promises us a deliverance out of our present danger. And now I beg thou wilt not look at us, or at that great crime we have been guilty of, but at thy own excellent nature, and take advice of thine own virtue, instead of that wrath thou hast against us; which passion those that otherwise are of lower character indulge, as they do their strength, and that not only on great, but also on very trifling occasions. Overcome, sir, that passion, and be not subdued by it, nor suffer it to slay those that do not otherwise presume upon their own safety, but are desirous to accept of it from thee; for this is not the first time that thou wilt bestow it on us, but before, when we came to buy corn, thou affordedst us great plenty of food, and gavest us leave to carry so much home to our family as has preserved them from perishing by famine. Nor is there any difference between not overlooking men that were perishing for want of necessaries, and not punishing those that seem to be offenders, and have been so unfortunate as to lose the advantage of that glorious benefaction which they received from thee. This will be an instance of equal favor, though bestowed after a different manner; for thou wilt save those this way whom thou didst feed the other; and thou wilt hereby preserve alive, by thy own bounty, those souls which thou didst not suffer to be distressed by famine, it being indeed at once a wonderful and a great thing to sustain our lives by corn, and to bestow on us that pardon, whereby, now we are distressed, we may continue those lives. And I am ready to suppose that God is willing to afford thee this opportunity of showing thy virtuous disposition, by bringing us into this calamity, that it may appear thou canst forgive the injuries that are done to thyself, and mayst be esteemed kind to others, besides those who, on other accounts, stand in need of thy assistance; since it is indeed a right thing to do well to those who are in distress for want of food, but still a more glorious thing to save those who deserve to be punished, when it is on account of heinous offenses against thyself; for if it be a thing deserving commendation to forgive such as have been guilty of small offenses, that tend to a person's loss, and this be praiseworthy in him that overlooks such offenses, to restrain a man's passion as to crimes which are capital to the guilty, is to be like the most excellent nature of God himself. And truly, as for myself, had it not been that we had a father, who had discovered, on occasion of the death of Joseph, how miserably he is always afflicted at the loss of his sons, I had not made any words on account of the saving of our own lives; I mean, any further than as that would be an excellent character for thyself, to preserve even those that would have nobody to lament them when they were dead, but we would have yielded ourselves up to suffer whatsoever thou pleasedst; but now (for we do not plead for mercy to ourselves, though indeed, if we die, it will be while we are young, and before we have had the enjoyment of life) have regard to our father, and take pity of his old age, on whose account it is that we make these supplications to thee. We beg thou wilt give us those lives which this wickedness of ours has rendered obnoxious to thy punishment; and this for his sake who is not himself wicked, nor does his being our father make us wicked. He is a good man, and not worthy to have such trials of his patience; and now, we are absent, he is afflicted with care for us. But if he hear of our deaths, and what was the cause of it, he will on that account die an immature death; and the reproachful manner of our ruin will hasten his end, and will directly kill him; nay, will bring him to a miserable death, while he will make haste to rid himself out of the world, and bring himself to a state of insensibility, before the sad story of our end come abroad into the rest of the world. Consider these things in this manner, although our wickedness does now provoke thee with a just desire of punishing that wickedness, and forgive it for our father's sake; and let thy commiseration of him weigh more with thee than our wickedness. Have regard to the old age of our father, who, if we perish, will be very lonely while he lives, and will soon die himself also. Grant this boon to the name of fathers, for thereby thou wilt honor him that begat thee, and will grant it to thyself also, who enjoyest already that denomination; thou wilt then, by that denomination, be preserved of God, the Father of all, - by showing a pious regard to which, in the case of our father, thou wilt appear to honor him who is styled by the same name; I mean, if thou wilt have this pity on our father, upon this consideration, how miserable he will be if he be deprived of his sons! It is thy part therefore to bestow on us what God has given us, when it is in thy power to take it away, and so to resemble him entirely in charity; for it is good to use that power, which can either give or take away, on the merciful side; and when it is in thy power to destroy, to forget that thou ever hadst that power, and to look on thyself as only allowed power for preservation; and that the more any one extends this power, the greater reputation does he gain to himself. Now, by forgiving our brother what he has unhappily committed, thou wilt preserve us all; for we cannot think of living if he be put to death, since we dare not show ourselves alive to our father without our brother, but here must we partake of one and the same catastrophe of his life. And so far we beg of thee, O governor, that if thou condemnest our brother to die, thou wilt punish us together with him, as partners of his crime, - for we shall not think it reasonable to be reserved to kill ourselves for grief of our brother's death, but so to die rather as equally guilty with him of this crime. I will only leave with thee this one consideration, and then will say no more, viz. that our brother committed this fault when he was young, and not yet of confirmed wisdom in his conduct; and that men naturally forgive such young persons. I end here, without adding what more I have to say, that in case thou condemnest us, that omission may be supposed to have hurt us, and permitted thee to take the severer side. But in case thou settest us free, that this may be ascribed to thy own goodness, of which thou art inwardly conscious, that thou freest us from condemnation; and that not by barely preserving us, but by granting us such a favor as will make us appear more righteous than we really are, and by representing to thyself more motives for our deliverance than we are able to produce ourselves. If, therefore, thou resolvest to slay him, I desire thou wilt slay me in his stead, and send him back to his father; or if thou pleasest to retain him with thee as a slave, I am fitter to labor for thy advantage in that capacity, and, as thou seest, am better prepared for either of those sufferings." 2 So Judas, being very willing to undergo any thing whatever for the deliverance of his brother, cast himself down at Joseph's feet, and earnestly labored to assuage and pacify his anger. All his brethren also fell down before him, weeping and delivering themselves up to destruction for the preservation of the life of Benjamin.

1 This oration seems to me too large, and too unusual a digression, to have been composed by Judas on this occasion. It seems to me a speech or declamation composed formerly, in the person of Judas, and in the way of oratory, that lay by him. and which he thought fit to insert on this occasion. See two more such speeches or declamations, Antiq. B. VI. ch. 14. sect. 4

2 In all this speech of Judas we may observe, that Josephus still supposed that death was the punishment of theft in Egypt, in the days of Joseph, though it never was so among the Jews, by the law of Moses.

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