“What can we say to my lord?” Judah replied. “What can we say? How can we prove our innocence? God has uncovered your servants’ guilt. We are now my lord’s slaves—we ourselves and the one who was found to have the cup.”
But Joseph said, “Far be it from me to do such a thing! Only the man who was found to have the cup will become my slave. The rest of you, go back to your father in peace.”
Then Judah went up to him and said: “Pardon your servant, my lord, let me speak a word to my lord. Do not be angry with your servant, though you are equal to Pharaoh himself. My lord asked his servants, ‘Do you have a father or a brother?’ And we answered, ‘We have an aged father, and there is a young son born to him in his old age. His brother is dead, and he is the only one of his mother’s sons left, and his father loves him.’
“Then you said to your servants, ‘Bring him down to me so I can see him for myself.’ And we said to my lord, ‘The boy cannot leave his father; if he leaves him, his father will die.’ But you told your servants, ‘Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you will not see my face again.’ When we went back to your servant my father, we told him what my lord had said.
“Then our father said, ‘Go back and buy a little more food.’ But we said, ‘We cannot go down. Only if our youngest brother is with us will we go. We cannot see the man’s face unless our youngest brother is with us.’
“Your servant my father said to us, ‘You know that my wife bore me two sons. One of them went away from me, and I said, “He has surely been torn to pieces.” And I have not seen him since. If you take this one from me too and harm comes to him, you will bring my gray head down to the grave in misery.’
“So now, if the boy is not with us when I go back to your servant my father, and if my father, whose life is closely bound up with the boy’s life, sees that the boy isn’t there, he will die. Your servants will bring the gray head of our father down to the grave in sorrow. Your servant guaranteed the boy’s safety to my father. I said, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, I will bear the blame before you, my father, all my life!’
“Now then, please let your servant remain here as my lord’s slave in place of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers. How can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? No! Do not let me see the misery that would come on my father.”
- Genesis 44:16-34
He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
- Matthew 12:48-50
A few days ago, I wrote about a very hot time at the laundromat. The laundromat is at the end of one of four interesting streets in the little town where we live outside Pittsburgh, PA, USA. Our little town is a coal mining town, but the mines have been closed for a long time except for some strip mining and digging out the coal if the coal is discovered when digging the foundation for a new home (a state law).
What are the “interesting streets”? The names for the four streets will built into the bill of sale for the land. A farmer owned a farm on a large hill adjacent to the town. He had no sons to carry on as the next generation of farmers, so he sold the land for development to the town under one provision, that a street be named for each of his daughters on the property he had farmed.
Three of the streets run parallel to each other, all going up and down the hill, sort of. Our house is on the middle of these three streets and is longer, having been extended, than the other three combined. One of the three streets is one way, going downhill. I hope that says nothing of that daughter. But what of the fourth street? It runs perpendicular to the other three streets, tying them together.
I wonder about that fourth daughter. Of the four daughters, was the one whose name adorns our mail each day more successful than the other three combined? But was the cross street named for the one sister who became mediator during family squabbles? Was she the one the other daughters turned to? Was she the peacemaker? And to tie into the Scripture, would this daughter lay down her life for her sisters?
My wife is the second of nine children. She is the eldest daughter of five girls. When I chose a job far from her parents, we did not lose contact. The singing group continued, and my wife sang with them when we could afford transportation. After twenty-two years of singing at the Texas Folklife Festival, they finally disbanded. My wife and the next sister in line tried their best to keep the family disagreements to a minimum. It was hard since my wife lived far away and a couple of the sisters became competitive. Would it have been different if we had lived closer? With my mother-in-law’s passing over five years ago, the singing group lost their loving mother who glued everything together. The night before my mother-in-law died, my wife’s closest sister in age, pulled out a guitar and the sisters sang one last time. Occasionally, you could see their mother’s lips moving. There were more tears than tunes, but they had reunited one last time.
In the Scripture above, we see Judah, the fourth oldest, pleading with Pharoah’s governor, not knowing that he was Judah’s brother Joseph. He offered his life, as a slave, in the place of Benjamin, for Benjamin, thinking Joseph was dead, was the only thing left from Israel’s wife Rachel.
I have written before about this selfless act of Judah, but it was Judah who promised on his life that Benjamin would return, otherwise, Benjamin would have not been allowed to leave Israel’s side. And it was Judah who argued with his brothers to not kill Joseph. Instead they sold him as a slave. If Judah was thinking of this option when he argued to spare Joseph, it might have been a case of “what goes around, comes around.”
But what we are seeing in these three events, the selling of Joseph, the pledge to return Benjamin to his father and Judah’s plea to be Joseph’s slave, if only Benjamin can return to his father. All these point to Judah being the brother who tied together all the other brothers.
Now we may not have four sisters, or eight siblings, as my wife did, eleven brothers as Judah did, or three sisters as a father’s daughter did in a little town outside Pittsburgh, PA, but are we the rebel that causes the strife in our family or are we the glue that holds the family together?
Let us strive to stay away from the strife. Let us be glue that holds a group of people together. Let us do our Heavenly Father’s will, as a true brother or sister of Christ Jesus. Let us love one another.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.