Genesis 44:20
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.
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44:18-34 Had Joseph been, as Judah supposed him, an utter stranger to the family, he could not but be wrought upon by his powerful reasonings. But neither Jacob nor Benjamin need an intercessor with Joseph; for he himself loved them. Judah's faithful cleaving to Benjamin, now, in his distress, was recompensed long afterwards by the tribe of Benjamin keeping with the tribe of Judah, when the other tribes deserted it. The apostle, when discoursing of the mediation of Christ, observes, that our Lord sprang out of Judah, Heb 7:14; and he not only made intercession for the transgressors, but he became a Surety for them, testifying therein tender concern, both for his Father and for his brethren. Jesus, the great antitype of Joseph, humbles and proves his people, even after they have had some tastes of his loving-kindness. He brings their sins to their remembrance, that they may exercise and show repentance, and feel how much they owe to his mercy."They rent their garments;" the natural token of a sorrow that knows no remedy. "And Judah went." He had pledged himself for the safety of Benjamin to his father. And he was yet there; awaiting no doubt the result which he anticipated. "They fell before him on the earth." It is no longer a bending of the head or bowing of the body, but the posture of deepest humiliation. How deeply that early dream penetrated into the stern reality! "Wot ye not that such a man as I doth certainly divine?" Joseph keeps up the show of resentment for a little longer, and brings out from Judah the most pathetic plea of its kind that ever was uttered. "The God," the great and only God, "hath found out the iniquity of thy servants;" in our dark and treacherous dealing with our brother. "Behold, we are servants to my lord." He resigns himself and all to perpetual bondage, as the doom of a just God upon their still-remembered crime. "He shall be my servant; and ye, go up in peace to your father." Now is the test applied with the nicest adjustment. Now is the moment of agony and suspense to Joseph. Will my brothers prove true? says he within himself. Will Judah prove adequate to the occasion? say we. His pleading with his father augured well.

Verse 18-34

"And Judah came near unto him." He is going to surrender himself as a slave for life, that Benjamin may go home with his brothers, who are permitted to depart. "Let thy servant now speak a word in the ears of my lord." There is nothing here but respectful calmness of demeanor. "And let not thine anger burn against thy servant." He intuitively feels that the grand vizier is a man of like feelings with himself. He will surmount the distinction of rank, and stand with him on the ground of a common humanity. "For so art thou as Pharaoh." Thou hast power to grant or withhold my request. This forms, the exordium of the speech. Then follows the plea. This consists in a simple statement of the facts, which Judah expects to have its native effect upon a rightly-constituted heart. We will not touch this statement, except to explain two or three expressions. A young lad - a comparative youth. "Let me set mine eyes upon him" - regard him with favor and kindness. "He shall leave his father and he shall die." If he were to leave his father, his father would die. Such is the natural interpretation of these words, as the paternal affection is generally stronger than the filial. "And now let thy servant now abide instead of the lad a servant to my lord." Such is the humble and earnest petition of Judah. He calmly and firmly sacrifices home, family, and birthright, rather than see an aged father die of a broken heart.

- Joseph Made Himself Known to His Brethren

10. גשׁן gôshen, Goshen, Gesem (Arabias related perhaps to גשׁם geshem "rain, shower"), a region on the borders of Egypt and Arabia, near the gulf of Suez.

The appeal of Judah is to Joseph irresistible. The repentance of his brothers, and their attachment to Benjamin, have been demonstrated in the most satisfactory manner. This is all that Joseph sought. It is evident, throughout the whole narrative, that he never aimed at exercising any supremacy over his brothers. As soon as he has obtained an affecting proof of the right disposition of his brothers, he conceals himself no longer. And the speech of Judah, in which, no doubt, his brothers concurred, does equal credit to his head and heart.

16-34. Judah said, What shall we say?—This address needs no comment—consisting at first of short, broken sentences, as if, under the overwhelming force of the speaker's emotions, his utterance were choked, it becomes more free and copious by the effort of speaking, as he proceeds. Every word finds its way to the heart; and it may well be imagined that Benjamin, who stood there speechless like a victim about to be laid on the altar, when he heard the magnanimous offer of Judah to submit to slavery for his ransom, would be bound by a lifelong gratitude to his generous brother, a tie that seems to have become hereditary in his tribe. Joseph's behavior must not be viewed from any single point, or in separate parts, but as a whole—a well-thought, deep-laid, closely connected plan; and though some features of it do certainly exhibit an appearance of harshness, yet the pervading principle of his conduct was real, genuine, brotherly kindness. Read in this light, the narrative of the proceedings describes the continuous, though secret, pursuit of one end; and Joseph exhibits, in his management of the scheme, a very high order of intellect, a warm and susceptible heart, united to a judgment that exerted a complete control over his feelings—a happy invention in devising means towards the attainment of his ends and an inflexible adherence to the course, however painful, which prudence required. A little one; so they call him comparatively to themselves, who were much elder; and withal, to signify the reason why he came, not with them, because he was young and tender, and unfit for such a journey.

And we said unto my lord, we have a father,.... Yet living in the land of Canaan:

an old man; being one hundred and thirty years of age, Genesis 47:9,

and a child of his old age; who was born when he was near an hundred years of age: and

a little one; not in stature, but in age, being the youngest son, and much younger than they: so they represented him, on that account, and because he was tenderly brought up with his father, and not inured to business and hardship, and so unfit to travel:

and his brother is dead; meaning Joseph: so they thought him to be, having not heard of him for twenty two years or more, and they had so often said he was dead, or suggested as much, that they at length believed he was:

and he alone is left of his mother; the only child left of his mother Rachel:

and his father loveth him; being his youngest son, and the only child of his beloved Rachel, and therefore most dear unto him.

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.
20. a child of his old age] Cf. Genesis 37:3, where the words are applied to Joseph.

his brother is dead] See Genesis 44:28, Genesis 42:38 (J). According to the J narrative, his brothers thought him dead. In Genesis 42:13 (E) Joseph’s fate is referred to in vaguer terms, “one is not.” This allusion to the “dead” brother in addressing Joseph adds a most effective touch to the story.

of his mother] Lit. “to his mother,” i.e. of Rachel’s children.

Genesis 44:20But that the brothers could not do. Judah, who had pledged himself to his father for Benjamin, ventured in the anguish of his heart to approach Joseph, and implore him to liberate his brother. "I would give very much," says Luther, "to be able to pray to our Lord God as well as Judah prays to Joseph here; for it is a perfect specimen of prayer, the true feeling that there ought to be in prayer." Beginning with the request for a gracious hearing, as he was speaking to the ears of one who was equal to Pharaoh (who could condemn or pardon like the king), Judah depicted in natural, affecting, powerful, and irresistible words the love of their aged father to this son of his old age, and his grief when they told him that they were not to come into the presence of the lord of Egypt again without Benjamin; the intense anxiety with which, after a severe struggle, their father had allowed him to come, after he (Judah) had offered to be answerable for his life; and the grievous fact, that if they returned without the youth, they must bring down the grey hairs of their father with sorrow to the grave.
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