Tuesday

“For your servant became surety for the boy to my father, saying, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, then I will bear the blame in the sight of my father all my life.’ Now therefore please let your servant remain as a slave to my lord in the place of the boy; and let the boy go back with his brothers.” (vv. 32-33)

Genesis 44:18-34 Tuesday 6 October 2015

Psalm: Psalm 104:1-23


Background

Jacob had twelve sons with four different women, but only theyoungest two, Joseph and Benjamin, were the children of Rachel, thewife he'd chosen for himself, after many years of trying toconceive. As far as he knew Joseph was dead, and in this passage,Judah speaking for the rest of the brothers assumed the same (verse20), even though the brothers originally made up that story andsold Joseph alive as a slave. Little does he realise that it is hisbrother Joseph whom he is now addressing and describing as being"like Pharaoh himself" in status (v. 18).

Having lost Joseph it is easy to understand how protective Jacobmust have felt about Benjamin, the remaining son of his belovedwife. It was only when the family had become desperate to buy foodfrom Egypt during the famine that Jacob had allowed Benjamin to gowith them in response to Joseph's prior demand (Genesis 42:33 - 43:15). Of the ten otherbrothers it had been Judah who had originally persuaded them tosell Joseph rather than kill him over their jealousy of his placein their father's affections (Genesis 37:26-27), and it was he who hadpromised Jacob he would guarantee Benjamin's safety with his ownlife (Genesis 43:8-9). Judah is emerging as the mosthonourable of the brothers as is fitting of the one who willeventually be the ancestor of King David and of Jesus himself (Matthew 1:2-16).

So Judah pleads, in this passage, for permission to take theplace of Benjamin in prison on charge of theft. Thereby he candischarge the promise he made to their father.

"Sheol" (vv. 29, 31) stands for the unknown world of the dead,so "bring down my gray hairs in sorrow to Sheol" is both a poeticand euphemistic way of saying that such a tragedy would prove thedeath of an old man.


To Ponder

  • Do you know people whose lives, even if they have continued formany years, effectively ended when tragedy such as the death of achild affected them? Is there any way past such experiences? Whatmight they be?
  • Was Judah right to promise his father that he would take theblame if any harm came to Benjamin? How far is this an example wemight follow?
  • What parallels are there between Judah's proposal in thispassage and what Jesus did for each of us on the cross?
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