Did Joseph practice divination?


Did Joseph, the son of Jacob, deal with divination and witchcraft as written in Genesis 44:5,15? My request is to give no guess.

No, Joseph did not practice divination because he followed God’s commands in all.

The Text

To understand better, we shall read the text where Joseph mentioned about his cup which he said he used for divination. When his brothers who had sold him into slavery arrived the second time they did not recognize him, and Joseph made a plan that he could stop Benjamin to Egypt until his brothers would understand the tragedy that they had done when they had sold him into slavery.

Then he commanded his house steward, saying, “Fill the men’s sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put each man’s money in the mouth of his sack. Put my cup, the silver cup, in the mouth of the sack of the youngest, and his money for the grain.” And he did as Joseph had told him. As soon as it was light, the men were sent away, they with their donkeys. They had just gone out of the city, and were not far off, when Joseph said to his house steward, “Up, follow the men; and when you overtake them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid evil for good? Is not this the one from which my lord drinks and which he indeed uses for divination? You have done wrong in doing this.’” So he overtook them and spoke these words to them. They said to him, “Why does my lord speak such words as these? Far be it from your servants to do such a thing. Behold, the money which we found in the mouth of our sacks we have brought back to you from the land of Canaan. How then could we steal silver or gold from your lord’s house? With whomever of your servants it is found, let him die, and we also will be my lord’s slaves.” So he said, “Now let it also be according to your words; he with whom it is found shall be my slave, and the rest of you shall be innocent.” Then they hurried, each man lowered his sack to the ground, and each man opened his sack. He searched, beginning with the oldest and ending with the youngest, and the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. Then they tore their clothes, and when each man loaded his donkey, they returned to the city. When Judah and his brothers came to Joseph’s house, he was still there, and they fell to the ground before him. Joseph said to them, “What is this deed that you have done? Do you not know that such a man as I can indeed practice divination?” (Genesis 44:1-15)(NASB)

Joseph said about divination as to not be recognized by his brothers at that moment

Since the first time when Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt, he knew them, but he concealed his identity because he intended to do well and give them a lesson. The Scripture says so:

Now Jacob saw that there was grain in Egypt, and Jacob said to his sons, “Why are you staring at one another?” He said, “Behold, I have heard that there is grain in Egypt; go down there and buy some for us from that place, so that we may live and not die.” Then ten brothers of Joseph went down to buy grain from Egypt. But Jacob did not send Joseph’s brother Benjamin with his brothers, for he said, “I am afraid that harm may befall him.” So the sons of Israel came to buy grain among those who were coming, for the famine was in the land of Canaan also. Now Joseph was the ruler over the land; he was the one who sold to all the people of the land And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed down to him with their faces to the ground. When Joseph saw his brothers he recognized them, but he disguised himself to them and spoke to them harshly. And he said to them, “Where have you come from?” And they said, “From the land of Canaan, to buy food.” But Joseph had recognized his brothers, although they did not recognize him. (Genesis 42:1-8)(NASB)

Just to make his brethren believe even more that he was Egyptian, Joseph had the house steward say about divination.

Joseph prophesied by divine revelation

We can find another proof that Joseph did not use the practice of divination when he meant to say the future when he came to Pharaoh for the first time.

Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, but no one can interpret it; and I have heard it said about you, that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.” Joseph then answered Pharaoh, saying, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.” (Genesis 41:15-16)(NASB)

Joseph said that the answer given on the interpretation of Pharaoh’s dream is a divine revelation and not a human guessing.

God forbids divination

And about divination God commands this way in Sacred Scripture:

There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For whoever does these things is detestable to the LORD; and because of these detestable things the LORD your God will drive them out before you. You shall be blameless before the LORD your God. (Deuteronomy 18:10-13)(NASB)

God save us from divination, magicians, horoscope and everything related to them and help us walk in faithfulness to Him as Joseph did.

Translated by Felicia Rotaru