The chapter flows directly out of the previous one.
Joseph again picks a fight in order to keep Benjamin by his side and is committed to getting to the bottom line with his half-brothers.
The Silver Cup
What’s lovely about the narrative is the detail, Joseph obviously is rich and powerful and his brothers exactly the opposite. His silver cup is not common to any household in Egypt save Pharoah himself. His brothers had eaten at a separate table because it is offensive for Hebrews to dine with Egyptians.
Now a highly valued and significant cup is placed in Benjamin’s sack as the brothers leave. Joseph had them chased down and shown to be at odds with him, for the purpose of having just cause to keep Benjamin in Egpyt.
Judah The Intercessor
Most of the chapter revolves around Judah’s response to Joseph’s accusation and his keeping Benjamin to himself. He argues as a talented lawyer would, clear, persistent, and thoughtful, but it’s best to understand him as an intercessor because an intercessor is willing to give their life for another. His intercession follows the key principles of intercession: Asking permission to speak, stating the facts plainly, and being willing to sacrifice themselves as the solution if needed.
The journey to Egypt allowed Joseph to grow into the man God needs him to be, but the same can now be said about Judah, he’s the only one of Joseph’s half brothers who now has integrity and moral courage. It’s quite a transformation from the man who once sought the favor of prostitutes.
Judah reexamines for Joseph how they got here, and then states his main concern, if they return home without Benjamin his father will die. Then he says the noblest thing that grabs Joseph’s heart, Judah is willing to serve as a slave to Joseph for the rest of his life in order that Benjamin returns home, and his father’s broken heart be spared.
The last line in the chapter is most telling, ” For how can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? I fear to see the evil that would find my father.”
The reader will do well to remember Benjamin is actually in his twenties, and the reference to him as a boy is about charm and affection, and not his age.