Genesis 43 Commentary
The food has run out and the brothers must make another trip to Egypt. Judah steps forward to try and convince his reluctant father to release Benjamin. The trip cannot be made without Benjamin. Simeon would not be released without Benjamin. Simply put, they cannot show up in Egypt without Benjamin. The lord of the land (Joseph) is not joking. Judah knows it.
This chapter is hugely important as we again see the LORD introduce another part of the blessing. Judah comes into the picture. It is at this point that we see Judah carry on his shoulders the burden of leadership in a way that changes his life forever. The significance of this point is yet to be fully understood. So Judah steps in after Reuben’s futile attempt. Judah puts in a simple but manly promise, “I myself will guarantee his safety; you can hold me personally responsible for him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him here before you, I will bear the blame before you all my life.”
Genesis 43:9 NIV
On this simple and manly promise (rather than Reuben’s sinful and cowardly offer of his own two sons) Israel releases Benjamin. From this point on the history of the nation would revolve around the two characters, Joseph and Judah. They would be joined by another character but much much later on. Levi would become central to Israel’s worship of her God. These three symbols would underline the different aspects of Israel’s blessing.
The chapter ends with a feast at Joseph’s residence. Benjamin is given special treatment by Joseph. The next story would revolve around Benjamin and Judah’s symbolically redemptive intervention. For now we hold our breath as we wait to see how the epic story unfolds.