7.And they said unto him. The sons of Jacob boldly excuse themselves, because a good conscience gives them confidence. They also argue from the greater to the less: for they contend, that their having voluntarily brought back the money, which they might with impunity have applied to their own use, was such a proof of their honesty, as to make it incredible that they should have been so blinded by a little gain, as to bring upon themselves the greatest disgrace, together with immediate danger of their lives. They, therefore, declared themselves ready to submit to any punishment, if they were found guilty of the theft. When the cup was discovered in Benjamin’s sack, Moses does not relate any of their complaints; but only declares, that they testified the most bitter grief by rending their garments. I do not doubt that they were struck dumb by the unexpected result; for they were confounded, not only by the magnitude of their grief, but by perceiving themselves to be obnoxious to punishment, for that of which their conscience did not accuse them. Therefore, when they come into the presence of Joseph, they confess the injury, not because they acknowledge that the crime has been committed by them, but because excuse would be of no avail; as if they would say, “It is of no use to deny a thing which is manifest in itself.” In this sense, they say that their iniquity has been found out by God; because, although they had some secret suspicion of fraud, thinking that this had been a contrivance for the purpose of bringing an unjust charge against them, they choose rather to trace the cause of their punishment to the secret judgment of God. (172) Some interpreters believe that they here confessed their crime committed against Joseph; but that opinion is easily refuted, because they constantly affirm that he had been torn by a wild beast, or had perished by some accident. Therefore, the more simple meaning is that which I have adduced; that although the truth of the fact is not apparent, yet they are punished by God as guilty persons. They do not, however, speak hypocritically; but being troubled and astonished in their perplexed affairs, there is nothing left for them but the consciousness that this punishment is inflicted by the secret judgment of God. And I wish that they who, when smitten by the rod of God, do not immediately perceive the cause, would adopt the same course; and when they find that men are unjustly incensed against them, would recall to mind the secret judgments of God, by which it becomes us to be humbled. Moreover, whereas Judah speaks in the name of them all, we may hence infer, that he had already obtained precedence among his brethren. And Moses exhibits him as their head and chief, when he expressly states that he and the rest came. For though the dignity of primogeniture had not yet been conferred upon him, by the solemn judgment of his father, yet it was intended for him. Certainly, in taking the post of speaker for the rest, his authority appears in his language. Again, it is necessary to recall to memory, in reference to the language of Joseph, what I have before said, that although at first he had endeavored to ascribe the glory to God, he now sins in pretending that he is a soothsayer or diviner. Some, to extenuate the fault, say that the allusion is, not to the art of augury, but to his skill in judging; there is, however, no need to resort to forced expositions for the sake of excusing the man; for he speaks according to the common understanding of the multitude, and thus foolishly countenances the received opinion.