English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran (2010)

by Maulana Muhammad Ali

Chapter 12: Yusuf — Joseph (Revealed at Makkah: 12 sections, 111 verses)

Section 9 (Verses 12:69–12:79): The Youngest Brother


وَ لَمَّا دَخَلُوۡا عَلٰی یُوۡسُفَ اٰوٰۤی اِلَیۡہِ اَخَاہُ قَالَ اِنِّیۡۤ اَنَا اَخُوۡکَ فَلَا تَبۡتَئِسۡ بِمَا کَانُوۡا یَعۡمَلُوۡنَ ﴿۶۹﴾

12:69 And when they came to Joseph, he lodged his brother with himself, saying: I am your brother, so do not grieve at what they do.

فَلَمَّا جَہَّزَہُمۡ بِجَہَازِہِمۡ جَعَلَ السِّقَایَۃَ فِیۡ رَحۡلِ اَخِیۡہِ ثُمَّ اَذَّنَ مُؤَذِّنٌ اَیَّتُہَا الۡعِیۡرُ اِنَّکُمۡ لَسٰرِقُوۡنَ ﴿۷۰﴾

12:70 Then when he furnished them with their provision, (someone) placed the drinking-cup in his brother’s bag.1 Then a crier cried out:2 O caravan, you are surely thieves!

قَالُوۡا وَ اَقۡبَلُوۡا عَلَیۡہِمۡ مَّا ذَا تَفۡقِدُوۡنَ ﴿۷۱﴾

12:71 They said, turning towards them: What is it that you miss?

قَالُوۡا نَفۡقِدُ صُوَاعَ الۡمَلِکِ وَ لِمَنۡ جَآءَ بِہٖ حِمۡلُ بَعِیۡرٍ وَّ اَنَا بِہٖ زَعِیۡمٌ ﴿۷۲﴾

12:72 They said: We miss the king’s drinking-cup, and he who brings it shall have a camel-load, and I am responsible for it.

قَالُوۡا تَاللّٰہِ لَقَدۡ عَلِمۡتُمۡ مَّا جِئۡنَا لِنُفۡسِدَ فِی الۡاَرۡضِ وَ مَا کُنَّا سٰرِقِیۡنَ ﴿۷۳﴾

12:73 They said: By Allah! You know for certain that we have not come to make mischief in the land, and we are not thieves.

قَالُوۡا فَمَا جَزَآؤُہٗۤ اِنۡ کُنۡتُمۡ کٰذِبِیۡنَ ﴿۷۴﴾

12:74 They said: But what is the penalty for this, if you are liars?

قَالُوۡا جَزَآؤُہٗ مَنۡ وُّجِدَ فِیۡ رَحۡلِہٖ فَہُوَ جَزَآؤُہٗ ؕ کَذٰلِکَ نَجۡزِی الظّٰلِمِیۡنَ ﴿۷۵﴾

12:75 They said: The penalty for this — the person in whose bag it is found, he himself is the penalty for it. Thus do we punish the wrongdoers.

فَبَدَاَ بِاَوۡعِیَتِہِمۡ قَبۡلَ وِعَآءِ اَخِیۡہِ ثُمَّ اسۡتَخۡرَجَہَا مِنۡ وِّعَآءِ اَخِیۡہِ ؕ کَذٰلِکَ کِدۡنَا لِیُوۡسُفَ ؕ مَا کَانَ لِیَاۡخُذَ اَخَاہُ فِیۡ دِیۡنِ الۡمَلِکِ اِلَّاۤ اَنۡ یَّشَآءَ اللّٰہُ ؕ نَرۡفَعُ دَرَجٰتٍ مَّنۡ نَّشَآءُ ؕ وَ فَوۡقَ کُلِّ ذِیۡ عِلۡمٍ عَلِیۡمٌ ﴿۷۶﴾

12:76 So he began with their sacks before the sack of his brother, then he brought it out from his brother’s sack. Thus did We plan for the sake of Joseph. He could not take his brother under the king’s law, unless Allah pleased.3 We raise in degree whom We please. And above everyone possessed of knowledge is the All-Knowing One.

قَالُوۡۤا اِنۡ یَّسۡرِقۡ فَقَدۡ سَرَقَ اَخٌ لَّہٗ مِنۡ قَبۡلُ ۚ فَاَسَرَّہَا یُوۡسُفُ فِیۡ نَفۡسِہٖ وَ لَمۡ یُبۡدِہَا لَہُمۡ ۚ قَالَ اَنۡتُمۡ شَرٌّ مَّکَانًا ۚ وَ اللّٰہُ اَعۡلَمُ بِمَا تَصِفُوۡنَ ﴿۷۷﴾

12:77 They said: If he steal, a brother of his did indeed steal before.4 But Joseph kept it secret in his mind, and did not disclose it to them. He said: You are in an evil condition, and Allah knows best what you state.

قَالُوۡا یٰۤاَیُّہَا الۡعَزِیۡزُ اِنَّ لَہٗۤ اَبًا شَیۡخًا کَبِیۡرًا فَخُذۡ اَحَدَنَا مَکَانَہٗ ۚ اِنَّا نَرٰىکَ مِنَ الۡمُحۡسِنِیۡنَ ﴿۷۸﴾

12:78 They said: O chief, he has a father, a very old man, so take one of us in his place. Surely we see you to be one of the doers of good.

قَالَ مَعَاذَ اللّٰہِ اَنۡ نَّاۡخُذَ اِلَّا مَنۡ وَّجَدۡنَا مَتَاعَنَا عِنۡدَہٗۤ ۙ اِنَّاۤ اِذًا لَّظٰلِمُوۡنَ ﴿٪۷۹﴾

12:79 He said: Allah forbid that we should seize other than him with whom we found our property, for then surely we should be unjust!


  1. Though the Bible narrative ascribes the placing of the cup to Joseph, the Quran does not say so. It may have been one of Joseph’s own brothers who did this act so that Benjamin might also be removed from Jacob, who loved him most after Joseph. There is a clear hint to this possibility in v. 77, where Joseph accuses them of having done some guilty deed: “You are in an evil condi­tion”, and a still clearer hint in v. 89, where Joseph says: “Do you know how you treated Joseph and his brother, when you were ignorant?”
  2. It is a mistake to suppose that the crier was the very person who had placed the cup there. As v. 72 makes it clear, it was the king’s drinking-cup; in other words it was not Joseph’s personal property, but the property of the king, or government property. It is clear that the men who provided corn were different from those who had charge of the king’s property.
  3. This makes it clear that this was not Joseph’s plan, but a Divine plan. In other words, the circumstances were made to assist Joseph to keep his brother with him. Joseph’s desire, no doubt, was to retain his brother Benjamin while the others returned; but he was unable to do so under the laws of Egypt, as stated here. This shows that one living under an alien government should abide by the laws of that government.
  4. The brothers of Joseph made a false statement against Joseph to cast a veil over their own evil deeds. If Benjamin, they said, was a thief, so was his brother Joseph, as if they meant to say that this evil trait of character was due to the mother, Rachel (probably referring to the incident in Genesis, 31:19).