Thought from the life (not “story”) of Joseph:
Before he reveals his identity to his brothers, Joseph tests them to see if their hearts have really changed. He plants the silver cup in Benjamin’s sack of grain; as a result of his supposed thievery, Benjamin faces being left in Egypt as a slave. The question is this: what will the other ten brothers do? Will they abandon him — as they did Joseph — without regard for his life or the life of their father Jacob, who loves Benjamin so much? Or will they defend Benjamin and fight to bring him back to his father?
The answer: they’ll fight for him. In one of the most moving and dramatic scenes in the Old Testament, Benjamin’s brother Judah delivers a speech that still stands as a model of repentence and sacrifice. He ends with these words, spoken to Joseph:
“Now therefore, as soon as I come to your servant my father (Jacob), and the boy is not with us, then, as his life is bound up in the boy’s life, as soon as he sees that the boy is not with us, he will die, and your servants will bring down the gray hairs of your servant our father with sorrow to Sheol. For your servant (Judah) became a pledge of safety for the boy to my father, saying, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, then I shall bear the blame before my father all my life.’ Now therefore, please let your servant remain instead of the boy as a servant to my lord, and let the boy go back with his brothers. For how can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? I fear to see the evil that would find my father” (Gen. 44:30-34).
No longer is Judah scheming to sell a brother to slave traders; now, he is making a self-sacrificial plea to be allowed to endure the punishment that belongs to another brother. Rather than deceiving his father Jacob, he now feels compassion for him. Judah and his brothers have become men, worthy of carrying the mantle of leaders of the nation of Israel. Judah’s words and sacrificial actions even call to mind the ultimate sacrifice of another Jew (from the line of Judah) almost 2000 years later.