Joseph’s brothers return to Egypt for help a second time. When his youngest brother is doomed to slavery, Judah defends him.
“My lord, I guaranteed to my father that I would take care of the boy. I told him, ‘If I don’t bring him back to you, I will bear the blame forever.’
“So please, my lord, let me stay here as a slave instead of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers. For how can I return to my father if the boy is not with me? I couldn’t bear to see the anguish this would cause my father!”
When Judah was younger, he had shown no regard for his brother Joseph or his father, Jacob. First he had convinced his brothers to sell Joseph as a slave (Genesis 37:27); then he had joined his brothers in lying to their father about Joseph’s fate (Genesis 37:32). But what a change had taken place in Judah! The man who had sold one favored little brother into slavery now offered himself as a slave to save another favored little brother. Judah was so concerned for his father and younger brother that he was willing to die for them. When you are ready to give up hope on yourself or someone else, Judah serves as a powerful reminder that God can work a complete change in even the most selfish personality.
Judah had promised Jacob that he would protect young Benjamin (Genesis 43:9). Now Judah had a chance to keep that promise. Becoming a slave was a terrible fate, but Judah was determined to keep his word. He showed great courage in carrying out his promise. Accepting a responsibility means carrying it out with determination and courage, even in the face of personal sacrifice.
Joseph wanted to see if his brothers’ attitudes had changed for the better, so he tested the way they treated each other. Judah, the brother who had come up with the plan to sell Joseph, now stepped in to take Benjamin’s punishment. This courageous act convinced Joseph.
Judah put his life on the line, defending himself and his brothers and pleading for mercy. And he offered to put himself in Benjamin’s place. At times we should be silent, but at times we should speak up, even if we could suffer for it. When you face a situation that needs a strong voice and courageous action, remember Judah, ask God for help, and speak up.