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So he began (the search) with their baggage, before (he came to) the baggage of his brother: at length he brought it out of his brother’s baggage. Thus did We plan for Joseph. He could not take his brother by the law of the king except that Allah willed it (so). We raise to degrees (of wisdom) whom We please: but over all endued with knowledge is one, the All-Knowing.

The pronoun “he” can only refer to Joseph. He
may have been present all the time, or he may just have
come up, as the supposed theft of the king’s own cup
(12:72 above) was a very serious and important affair,
and the investigation required his personal supervision.
All that his officers did by his orders was his own act. As
the lawyers say: Qui facit per alium, facit per se
(whoever does anything through another, does it
himself).


The Arabic word here used is wi’ai, plural aw’iya,
which includes bags, lockers, boxes, or any receptacles
in which things are stored.
Notice the appropriateness of the words used. The cup
was concealed in a saddle-bag (rahl), verse 70 above.
When it comes to searching, they must search all the
baggage of every description if the search was to be
convincing and effective.


Let no one suppose that it was a vulgar or
wicked trick, such as we sometimes hear of in police
courts, when property is planted on innocent men to get
them into trouble.
On the contrary it was a device or stratagem whose
purpose was to show up wickedness in its true colours,
to give it a chance of repentance, to bring about
forgiveness and reconciliation, to give solace to the aged
father who had suffered so much.
Joseph was a Prophet of Allah, but he could not have
carried out his plan or taken the first step, of detaining
his brother, except with the will and permission of Allah,
Whose Plan is universal and for all His creatures. (R).

References:

Yusuf Ali, Abdullah. Translation and Commentary of the Quran. (Surah 12 verse 76). Microsoft Word – 012 Yusuf.doc (quran4u.com)

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