6 “What can we say to you?” Judah replied. “What can we say? How can we prove we haven’t done anything wrong? God has shown you that we are guilty. We are now your slaves. All of us are, including the one found to have the cup.” 17 But Joseph said, “I would never do anything like that! Only the man found to have the cup will become my slave. The rest of you may go back to your father in peace.” 18 Then Judah went up to him. He said, “Please, sir. Let me speak a word to you. Don’t be angry with me, even though you are equal to Pharaoh himself. 19 You asked us, ‘Do you have a father or a brother?’ 20 We answered, ‘We have an old father. A young son was born to him when he was old. His brother is dead. He’s the only one of his mother’s sons left. And his father loves him.’ 21 “Then you said to us, ‘Bring him down to me. I want to see him for myself.’ 22 We said to you, ‘The boy can’t leave his father. If he does, his father will die.’ 23 But you told us, ‘Your youngest brother must come down here with you. If he doesn’t, you won’t see my face again.’ 24 So we went back to my father. We told him what you had said. 25 “Then our father said, ‘Go back. Buy a little more food.’ 26 But we said, ‘We can’t go down. We’ll only go if our youngest brother goes there with us. We can’t even see the man’s face unless our youngest brother goes with us.’ 27 “Your servant my father said to us, ‘You know that my wife had two sons by me. 28 One of them went away from me. And I said, “He must have been torn to pieces.” I haven’t seen him since. 29 What if you take this one from me too and he is harmed? Then you would cause me to die as a sad old man. I would go down into the grave full of pain and suffering.’ 30 “So now, what will happen if the boy isn’t with us when I go back to my father? His life depends on the boy’s life. 31 When he sees that the boy isn’t with us, he’ll die. Because of us, he’ll go down into the grave as a sad old man. 32 I promised my father I would keep the boy safe. I said, ‘Father, I’ll bring him back to you. If I don’t, you can put the blame on me for the rest of my life.’ 33 “Now then, please let me stay here. Let me be your slave in place of the boy. Let the boy return with his brothers. 34 How can I go back to my father if the boy isn’t with me? No! Don’t let me see the pain and suffering that would come to my father.”
What captures me in this passage is at the beginning where Judah states “God has uncovered your servant’s guilt”. The “guilt” is not to do with the cup being found in Benjamin’s sack, for Judah was unaware of this being planted, and so would not have had the guilt! This “guilt’ was a long term condition.
Judah was the fourth son to Jacob through Leah.
If we go back to Gen 37 when Joseph was 17, and was thrown into the well by his brothers, Judah was one of the main perpetrators of “removing” their brother by having him sold off.
Gen 37:26 Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? 27 Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed.
The brothers, including Judah, then presented the blood stained coat to Jacob, deceiving him in thinking that Joseph had been killed by a wild animal. This whole act demonstrated not only great disrespect and hate toward Joseph, but also to their father, Jacob.
I believe it was at this point in today’s reading, that Judah is again expressing his guilt and anguish from this terrible act some 13 years prior. There is a sense of remorse.
“Guilt” can be a stronghold that can block us from moving forward in our relationship with God, until it is confessed and dealt with as needed.
Father, help me to confess to You any actions that have caused guilt within me, and reveal to me any sins of the past that may cause an unrevealed guilt. Thank you for your grace and mercy. Amen
Written by Steve Fell