32 For thy servant became surety for the lad unto my father, saying, If I bring him not unto thee, then I shall bear the blame to my father for ever. 33 Now therefore, I pray thee, let thy servant abide instead of the lad a bondman to my lord; and let the lad go up with his brethren. 34 For how shall I go up to my father, and the lad be not with me? lest peradventure I see the evil that shall come on my father.
Judah has explained how returning home without Benjamin might kill his father for grief, but it is his plea at the end that I find most moving. Judah does not rage against Joseph, he does not stubbornly insist that they’ve got the wrong man, he doesn’t even ask Joseph to let the matter go for pity’s sake.
No, humbly and selflessly, Judah only asks that he be punished in place of the lad. If there is a price that must be paid, let it be taken out on him, and let the boy go free. The symbolism here of the Savior is obvious, and it seems particularly fitting that Jesus would be descended of Judah, who was willing to sacrifice himself that his brother might be restored to his father.
A little while ago we saw a picture of Judah that was far less flattering. He had abandoned his covenant, sullied himself through lust, and was mired in a tawdry family drama. At the end of it came a hint of redemption, though, when he started to acknowledge his folly and accept its consequences. That spark of maturity seems to have continued to grow in him until this time, finally making him ready to fully surrender himself for the good of others.