“Now the famine was severe in the land. 2 And when they had eaten the grain that they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, “Go again, buy us a little food.” 3 But Judah said to him, “The man solemnly warned us, saying, ‘You shall not see my face unless your brother is with you.’ 4 If you will send our brother with us, we will go down and buy you food. 5 But if you will not send him, we will not go down, for the man said to us, ‘You shall not see my face, unless your brother is with you.’ ” 6 Israel said, “Why did you treat me so badly as to tell the man that you had another brother?” 7 They replied, “The man questioned us carefully about ourselves and our kindred, saying, ‘Is your father still alive? Do you have another brother?’ What we told him was in answer to these questions. Could we in any way know that he would say, ‘Bring your brother down’?” 8 And Judah said to Israel his father, “Send the boy with me, and we will arise and go, that we may live and not die, both we and you and also our little ones. 9 I will be a pledge of his safety. From my hand you shall require him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame forever. 10 If we had not delayed, we would now have returned twice.” (Genesis 43:1–10 (ESV)
Judah made a solemn pledge to his father Jacob. This was the same Judah who orchestrated the sale of Joseph to the Midianites so many years before (Gen. 37:25-27) and who had an inappropriate relationship with his daughter-in-law Tamar (Gen. 38).
The Scriptures always depict God’s people as they truly are, bad choices included. Always remember that the believer’s righteous standing before God is always based upon the imputed righteousness of Christ and not our own (Romans 3:21-26; Philippians 3:1-9). While God’s calls each believer in Christ to obedience, our hope and confidence is solely in the perfect obedience of Jesus Christ.
Judah steps up when apparently no other brother would. The tone of what he says displayed a sincere heart.
8 And Judah said to Israel his father, “Send the boy with me, and we will arise and go, that we may live and not die, both we and you and also our little ones. 9 I will be a pledge of his safety. From my hand you shall require him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame forever. 10 If we had not delayed, we would now have returned twice” (Gen. 43:8-10).
Judah’s pledge contained four promises. First, he would protect Benjamin. The youngest son would be in his charge.
Second, Judah would personally be a pledge for Benjamin’s safety. The Hebrew word for pledge means to put up a security, mortgage, make a guarantee, or to give a pledge. It is to give an object or personal security in an agreement to ensure that an agreed future event in fact happens (Gen. 44:32; Neh. 5:3; Job 17:3; Prov. 6:1; 11:15; 17:18; 20:16; 22:26; 27:13).
Third, Judah stated that Jacob could hold him accountable if anything happened to Benjamin. This would result in any punishment if Judah did not keep his promise of protection.
Fourth, Judah indicated that he alone would bear the blame. He would bear any punishment necessary.
Dr. R.C. Sproul states, “Judah steps forward as the leader of the clan and refuses to go back to Egypt without his youngest brother. Twice he tells his father that they have been “warned” not to return without Benjamin, and so if all of the brothers do not go into the land of the Nile, none of them can go (vv. 4–5). Judah is the oldest son still in Jacob’s favor (29:31–35; 34:30; 35:22) and the logical choice to head the expedition. Yet Judah’s age is not his most important qualification to lead the others. Seeing that his father’s concern to preserve Benjamin alive must be satisfied, he steps forward and makes himself the guarantee of his brother’s safety (43:8–10). This is a risky and chivalrous move for Judah to make, for he is putting his life on the line for his brother. It is model behavior for the righteous ruler, seen most prominently in the life of Jesus, Judah’s greatest son through King David (Matt. 1:1), who laid down His life for His brothers (John 10:11).”
Today’s text shows that Judah is a type for the Lord Jesus Christ. Take the time today to thank the Lord Jesus who took your place on the cross.
Soli deo Gloria!