25 And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmeelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt.
26 And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood?
27 Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content.
28 Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt.
Now it is Judah who changes the plan for Joseph, suggesting that they sell him into slavery rather than leave him to die. The thought occurs to me that, like Reuben, he might have been doing this as a way to save Joseph from his brothers. Unlike with Reuben, we don’t have a verse specifically telling us what his intent is, but it does seem a possibility.
If Judah really was trying to help Joseph, then it is interesting that Joseph’s loss was a combined coincidence of two brothers trying to save him without realizing that that’s what the other one was trying to do as well. If that is the case, it only goes to show that Joseph being sold into Egypt was inevitable, an event that God had dictated to happen, for reasons He only understood at this time.
But if, on the other hand, Judah’s motivation really was “what profit is it if we slay our brother,” then this is a horrible thing. This would mean he was deciding which way we wanted to ruin his younger brother’s life on the basis of what was most beneficial to him personally. And even if this wasn’t Judah’s actual motivation, all of his brothers still agreed to its logic!
Though, then again, who knows? Maybe they agreed to it because they were coming to realize that they didn’t really want to kill their brother and here was an opportunity to somewhat spare him. Wouldn’t it be a fascinating thing if none of the brothers were okay with what was happening, but none of them spoke plainly because they thought they were the only one that felt this way?
Either way, the outcome was the same. Joseph was sold to Egypt because that was where God needed Joseph to go. And he was sold for twenty pieces of silver, which is another parallel to the story of Jesus, who was sold for thirty.