“Then Judah approached him and said, “If you please, my lord, may your servant speak a word in my lord’s ears and let not your anger flare up at your servant – for you are like Pharaoh.”Genesis 44:18
At the end of Parsha Miketz, Benjamin was found with Joseph’s silver cup in his bag. This resulted in he and his brothers being hauled back to Joseph’s house to explain themselves.
But instead of the brothers pointing their fingers at Benjamin and tossing him in the proverbial pit, Judah steps forward to protect his little brother. He was preparing to approach the Viceroy of Egypt. Judah saw how much pain and heartache the loss of Joseph had caused their father, Jacob, and could not allow such a thing to happen again. His beloved wife, Rachel, had only given birth to two sons, Benjamin and Joseph. Judah was a guilty party in the ongoing hurt that he caused his father to endure. He was faced with a choice.
This is the moment that Joseph had been waiting for. After all these years, were his brothers still willing to sell one another out for their own benefit or would they stick together? I don’t think it was so much as Joseph needing proof that they were sorry for what they had done to him, but he wanted to see that they had understood the anguish that they caused their father and changed their hearts.
This is exactly what Judah demonstrates. Rashi says that the cited verse means “May my request convince you and do not react angrily to the blunt manner in which I need to speak with you.” He was preparing him for the strong words that needed to be said. Judah recounts the interactions and conversations that took place and makes it clear that Jacob still mourns for the loss of Joseph and would be devastated to lose Benjamin as well. He ends with a bold suggestion:
“For your servant took responsibility for the youth for my father, saying, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, then I shall be a sinner before my father forever.” And now, please let your servant remain instead of the youth as a slave to my master, and let the youth go up with his brothers. For how do I go up to my father if the youth is not with me, lest I see the evil that would come upon my father?”Genesis 44:32-34
At this, Joseph could no longer contain himself. His heart burst with emotion as he ordered every one of the Egyptian attendants out of the room. These were his brothers! Joseph was witnessing the proclamation of their repentance before his own eyes. He announced to his brothers that he was the very brother that they sold into slavery and the very son that their father presumed to be dead. The brothers shrank back in fear and began to tremble because they realized that their lives were in his hands.
Joseph knew this as well. He could act in such a way as to punish them for what they had done to him, but he did not. He, instead, beckoned them to come closer and comforted them.
“And now, be not distressed, nor reproach yourselves for having sold me here, for it was to be a provider that Elohim sent me ahead of you.”Genesis 45:5
For years Joseph was separated from his father, his family and his home. For two years he sat in a dark prison. Jonathan said it best in last week’s article on Miketz:
“This is far from the most comfortable position for a believer to be in. At times it feels exactly like Joseph sitting in a jail cell for those two years. But, it is also the best position to be in. Our hands tied, unable to interfere with the work that Elohim is doing on our behalf.”
What do we do when we are walking down a path with an uncertain future? More importantly, what do we do when have that moment of clarity where we finally see why the road was so rocky? Are we quick to praise and thank Elohim for the journey that equipped us with what we need in this very moment or we quick to hold on to the hurt? A victim mentality is a dangerous prison to confine yourself to. It’s an outlook of isolation, suffering and dead ends. A victim can never see opportunities, only dangers. A victim seeks retribution on their terms, often sacrificing happiness and peace for a chance to get even.
Enslaving Judah wouldn’t have hurt Jacob any less than losing Benjamin. Joseph knew that. Moreover, Joseph knew that what he went through was for the sake and survival of his own family. These difficult years were not at the hand of his cruel brothers or a bad hand dealt by chance. These difficult years were given to Joseph because Elohim believed in him to accomplish a greater mission.
I will never make light of the sufferings others endure. Many people quietly suffer each day, barely making it through to the next. I can never tell you that you need to embrace the hurt because it’ll make you a better person. But what I can say is that you are not suffering in solitude. You are not confined to an eternal prison. Messiah has come to set the captives free. Our job is to walk out and rebuild, vowing to never put others through what we have endured. Never give up because there is hope for greater things and in doing so, you may save someone’s life one day.