18 Then Judah went up to him and said: “Pardon your servant, my lord, let me speak a word to my lord. Do not be angry with your servant, though you are equal to Pharaoh himself. 19 My lord asked his servants, ‘Do you have a father or a brother?’ 20 And we answered, ‘We have an aged father, and there is a young son born to him in his old age. His brother is dead, and he is the only one of his mother’s sons left, and his father loves him.’ 21 “Then you said to your servants, ‘Bring him down to me so I can see him for myself.’ 22 And we said to my lord, ‘The boy cannot leave his father; if he leaves him, his father will die.’ 23 But you told your servants, ‘Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you will not see my face again.’ 24 When we went back to your servant my father, we told him what my lord had said. 25 “Then our father said, ‘Go back and buy a little more food.’ 26 But we said, ‘We cannot go down. Only if our youngest brother is with us will we go. We cannot see the man’s face unless our youngest brother is with us.’ 27 “Your servant my father said to us, ‘You know that my wife bore me two sons. 28 One of them went away from me, and I said, “He has surely been torn to pieces.” And I have not seen him since. 29 If you take this one from me too and harm comes to him, you will bring my gray head down to the grave in misery.’ 30 “So now, if the boy is not with us when I go back to your servant my father, and if my father, whose life is closely bound up with the boy’s life, 31 sees that the boy isn’t there, he will die. Your servants will bring the gray head of our father down to the grave in sorrow. 32 Your servant guaranteed the boy’s safety to my father. I said, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, I will bear the blame before you, my father, all my life!’ 33 “Now then, please let your servant remain here as my lord’s slave in place of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers. 34 How can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? No! Do not let me see the misery that would come on 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