He came up with the brilliant proposal to sell Joseph as a slave rather than kill him, making a profit and supposedly retaining their dignity in the process. After all, Joseph was his flesh and blood. Not long after that he hired a prostitute that turned out to be his daughter-in-law, whom he got pregnant. When her sin was discovered, he was the one that called for her death, not realizing that he was complicit in her sin.
In Genesis 44, however, Judah emerged as a heroic figure.
Joseph arranged circumstances so that Benjamin and the brothers were arrested for theft. As a result, Joseph threatened to hold Benjamin as a slave because the cup was in his bag. This was justice in which each man paid for his own sin.
But Judah stepped forward as a substitute. He offered himself in place of the “guilty” one. Maybe he was motivated by guilt or shame. Perhaps he had finally begun to grow in his faith. Whatever the reason, Judah offered to take the punishment of the one who was guilty.
One of the most remarkable things about Judah is that Jesus is one of his descendants. This grossly sinful man was blessed with having the Son of God come from his lineage.
We don’t know why Judah stepped forward as a hero. What we do know is that years later, Jesus, his descendant, stepped forward and offered himself as a sinless substitute for the guilt of all mankind. He did not do so because he was motivated by shame or guilt. He willingly offered himself out of obedience to His heavenly Father and love for the guilty rebels: us.
1. How is this account in many ways an illustration of what Paul teaches in Romans 8:28?
2. What does Joseph’s perspective on history in Genesis 45:7-8 teach us about God’s providential hand in human history?
3. Has Joseph truly forgiven his brothers? Why or why not? Are they convinced of their forgiveness? Why or why not? (see 50:15-21)