18 Then Judah came near unto him, and said, Oh my lord, let thy servant, I pray thee, speak a word in my lord’s ears, and let not thine anger burn against thy servant: for thou art even as Pharaoh.
19 My lord asked his servants, saying, Have ye a father, or a brother?
20 And we said unto my lord, We have a father, an old man, and a child of his old age, a little one; and his brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother, and his father loveth him.
21 And thou saidst unto thy servants, Bring him down unto me, that I may set mine eyes upon him.
22 And we said unto my lord, The lad cannot leave his father: for if he should leave his father, his father would die.
23 And thou saidst unto thy servants, Except your youngest brother come down with you, ye shall see my face no more.
Judah draws near to Joseph and asks to speak with him on a more direct, emotional level. But even at this more intimate range, he still isn’t able to recognize his own brother. He continues to only see an Egyptian lord before him.
Joseph allows this more informal approach and Judah launches into a summary of all that they have gone through. He wants to make the whole picture clear to Joseph. He begins in familiar territory, relating experiences that Joseph already witnessed, but soon he will carry into other scenes that Joseph was not present for.
It would seem that Judah’s objective is to become known to Joseph, to let this powerful magnate see him as he really as, and hopefully find something there to take pity on. And so Judah reminds Joseph what a terrible predicament he had put them in, demanding that they bring their youngest brother to him, even though it might kill their father for grief.