Arent de Gelder 1645 – 1727

Judah and Joseph

oil on canvas (99 × 113 cm) — ca. 1680-1685
private collection

Arent de Gelder biography

This work is linked to Genesis 44:18

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Joseph was sold to the Egyptians by his brothers. In Egypt he becomes successful, gaining power equaled only by the Pharaoh. Joseph is in charge of vast supplies of grain.

Driven by a famine his brothers travel to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, without knowing his true identity. After their departure Joseph has someone hide a silver cup in their luggage. That way he can accuse his brothers of theft.

Joseph demands that the brother is whose luggage the goblet was found, becomes his slave. De Gelder here shows how Joseph's elder brother Judah begs him to drop that demand. The accused brother was Benjamin, who after Joseps's disappearance had become his father Jacob's favourite son. Judah argues that his father would not survive losing another favourite son. Joseph is touched by Judah's plea and tells his brothers who he really is.

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