Finally, one of the brothers steps forward and begins to lead them. Judah, Leah’s fourth-born son, rises to the occasion.
Israel speaks foolishly, asking Judah to walk into Egypt as a condemned man. Judah knows Joseph is not someone to betray. Israel is reminded, there is no chance of seeing Joseph’s face unless Benjamin is with them.
Pending starvation forces Israel to accept Judah’s leadership, but he remains stubborn.
It’s called the law of exclusivity, saying yes to one thing means saying no to another. Judah helps his father work through emotionally painful logic. If you keep Benjamin home, we all die, send him to Egypt and we might live.
Judah stands firm, telling his father they could’ve gone back and forth twice by now, and bravely speaks to act as a pledge for Benjamin’s life.
Joseph was sold into slavery for 20 shekels of silver, but much more will return. The list of choice foods is eerily cousin to what the Ishmaelite traders had when they took Joseph out of the pit.
Someone Finally Prays
Israel prayer is most sincere, he prays to El Shaddai – God most powerful, to grant mercy. The word mercy, first used here, is the idea of protecting the womb.
Joseph spots Benjamin, now a twenty-something, and gives specific instruction to his staff, kill an animal, seems to be a bit of a peace offering, and serve a noontime meal at Joseph’s house, which likely had a dungeon, just like Potiphar’s. This means Judah woke early and arrived in the expected area to meet Joseph before the heat of the day.
Joseph is presented with gifts, his brothers bow down to him, and he begins to ask them about his father, calling him an old man. He is assured that Israel is alive and well, then Joseph spots his actual brother Benjamin.
God be gracious to you, my son is what he said to him. The Hebrew is interesting, and can be understood as follows: Elohim (God who rules) hanan (grace and favor) ben(son), may the God who rules over heaven and earth always favor you, my son.
The phrase is cousin to Aaron’s blessing found in Numbers 6:24.
Joseph quickly enters his chamber and has a good cry.
Joseph and his Egyptian cohorts cannot eat with Hebrews, it is an abomination to them which also means disgusting. As Prime Minister, food is brought to Joseph’s table first, then the portions are set aside for the Hebrews according to his instructions with Benjamin getting a portion 5 times larger than the others.