Joseph continues to seriously punk his brothers, engineering a false accusation of theft to justify demanding that Benjamin, his only full brother, stay in Egypt as his slave and not return to his homeland and father.
Enough already, this has been going on for chapters. What is going on?
Judah’s response answers, I think. He offers and impassioned and brave defense talking about how loved the youngest brother is, how it would break their fathers heart… He even mentions the other brother who “died” IE: Joseph.
He offers himself in substitute as slave.
Back in chapter 38, the brothers as a group came up with the plan to kill Joseph.
Reuben softened the plan by suggesting they put him down a well (the word used in my translation was”cistern”. I hope it was a well).
It was Judah who came up with the suggestion of selling him into slavery. He said at the time it would prevent his blood being on their shoulders.
The summary of Joseph’s fate is”he died” however. And now Judah is offering to sell himself into slavery to avoid that fate for another younger, loved, brother.
He lived though the silent shame of their father’s grief over Joseph.
He came face to face with his own callousness and hypocrisy over the birth of his own son to Tamar, who had to trick him by posing as a prostitute to conceive the heir.
He made a solemn vow to his father to protect Benjamin on the journey to Egypt to get food.
This is a man with a lot of bad mistakes behind him, repentant, pleading to offer his liberty for anothers.
That’s what Joseph is about. That’s what he has drawn out. Time for the reveal, I think.