14 And Judah and his brethren came to Joseph’s house; for he was yet there: and they fell before him on the ground. 15 And Joseph said unto them, What deed is this that ye have done? wot ye not that such a man as I can certainly divine? 16 And Judah said, What shall we say unto my lord? what shall we speak? or how shall we clear ourselves? God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants: behold, we are my lord’s servants, both we, and he also with whom the cup is found. 17 And he said, God forbid that I should do so: but the man in whose hand the cup is found, he shall be my servant; and as for you, get you up in peace unto your father.
The first time visiting Egypt had been a horrible ordeal for the brothers. The second time everything had started off as a delight. Now, though, things are even worse than before! The outcome of their last visit was that one of them had been imprisoned until the others returned, this time one is going to be taken for life!
As I considered Joseph’s behavior, I realize that what I think he is doing is making it as easy as possible for the brothers to abandon Benjamin, just as they had abandoned him. Benjamin has been caught red-handed and his life is forfeit. Twenty years ago, the brothers would have been overjoyed to have just such an opportunity for getting rid of Joseph. Back then they had to dirty their own hands, had to lie to their father, but now it must seem to them that fate is practically begging them to pawn off Benjamin!
“Get up in peace to your father,” Joseph tells them. “He shall be my servant.” Go on. Do it. Abandon him.
If there remained even the slightest ounce of resentment towards the sons of favored Rachel, then here is the moment that the brothers will wash their hands and walk away.
But the brothers will not do it.
Judah insists that all of them should be taken as servants, not only Benjamin. Even if he cannot save his brother, he would join him in solidarity. Here, at last, is concrete evidence that these men’s hearts have truly changed.