His name means: "The Praise of the Lord"
His work: A leader among his brothers, he was head of the tribe from which both King David and Jesus would come. His character: The fourth son of Jacob and Leah, he saved his brother Joseph's life and offered to take his youngest brother Benjamin's place as a slave in Egypt. His sorrow: To have lived for many years with the knowledge that he and his brothers had sold Joseph into slavery. His triumph: To have received a choice blessing from his father, Jacob, promising that Judah would be the greatest of the tribes of Israel. Key Scriptures: Genesis 37:26-36; 38; 42-45
Though not the firstborn, Judah was a leader among Jacob's unruly sons. His leadership saved Joseph's life, and probably the lives of his extended family as well, because he was able to persuade Jacob that Benjamin needed to come with him to procure more grain in Egypt. His most impressive act of leadership was offering his own life in pledge for Benjamin's freedom, in a way reversing his earlier act of betrayal toward Joseph.
But Judah's leadership was flawed by the act of selling his own flesh and blood into slavery and by lying to his father about what happened to Joseph. It was also marred by what happened between him and his daughter-in-law, Tamar. After Tamar had lost her second husband, Judah's second son, he had promised to arrange a marriage with his youngest son, as the custom prescribed. But Judah failed to keep that promise and then falsely accused Tamar of being a prostitute, threatening her with death. To his credit, as soon as he discovered his error, he admitted that Tamar was more righteous than he.
Like so many of the Bible's best-known characters, and like so many of us, Judah was a man in need of forgiveness. He was a leader who needed mercy, and he found it in the arms of his brother Joseph and in the providence of a God who knew the secret that he and his brothers had kept for so many years.Reflect On: Genesis 44:14–16 Praise God: Because he knows the state of our hearts. Offer Thanks: For ways God has strengthened relationships in your family. Confess: Any sins against brothers or sisters, father or mother. Ask God: To show you how to make amends for anything you’ve done wrong.