24 And it came to pass when we came up unto thy servant my father, we told him the words of my lord. 25 And our father said, Go again, and buy us a little food. 26 And we said, We cannot go down: if our youngest brother be with us, then will we go down: for we may not see the man’s face, except our youngest brother be with us. 27 And thy servant my father said unto us, Ye know that my wife bare me two sons: 28 And the one went out from me, and I said, Surely he is torn in pieces; and I saw him not since: 29 And if ye take this also from me, and mischief befall him, ye shall bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.
Judah now relates to Joseph the conversations he hasn’t been privy to, the ones that the brothers had back home with their father. He tries to appeal to Joseph’s pathos by describing the horrible grief that might come upon Jacob if Benjamin is harmed. Little does Judah know that this sympathetic plea would have an especially pronounced effect on Joseph, for Judah isn’t describing some strange Hebrew man being brought to death’s door by grief, he is describing the Egyptian prince’s own father!
Judah also references the loss of Joseph in clearer terms, and the fact that Jacob believes the boy was torn apart by animals. Judah does not, however, admit to the fact that they actually sold their brother into Egypt. These men have grown to admit their sins to themselves, and to accept that they deserve to be punished for them, however they aren’t yet willing to be seen by the outer world for what they truly are.
Even so, it seems that their repentance is near enough to complete for Joseph to accept it. Judah is going to make one final plea, and then Joseph will reveal all.