Friday, July 19, 2019

Unchosen, but favored?

The story never explains why Judah succeeds and Reuben does not, but Gen 43 shows that Judah focuses on saving the life of Israel’s children, and acts with both responsibility and urgency. When he and his brothers go to Egypt the second time, Jacob’s family is close to death. Surprisingly, it is the unchosen Judah who alters the family’s future and brings life out of death, precisely because he is willing to risk his own life. He values the bond between Jacob and his beloved Benjamin, and hence offers himself in substitution for the brother more loved than himself. In addition to this, Judah’s wise and persuasive words show Joseph that he is, in effect, now doing the very same thing his brothers did to him. Joseph might have brought his father down to Sheol in sorrow by his plan to enslave Benjamin. Judah’s speech thus prompted Joseph to reveal himself to his brothers and moved the whole family towards reconciliation. Judah represents a kind of climax in the line of unchosen brothers in the book of Genesis. He is instrumental in effecting a fuller reconciliation than that which occurred between Esau and Jacob, and accomplishes something that Cain failed to do—be his brother’s keeper (4:9).—The Unfavored, pages 46–47

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