“And Judah said unto Israel his father, Send the lad with me, and we will arise and go; that we may live, and not die, both we, and thou, and also our little ones. I will be surety for him; of my hand shalt thou require him: if I bring him not unto thee, and set him before thee, then let me bear the blame for ever:” (Genesis 43:8-9)
When we consider what we know thus far about Judah, this offer on his part seems entirely out-of-character. This is the same Judah who made the suggestion to sell Joseph into slavery back in Genesis 37:27; the same man who ordered that his daughter-in-law, Tamar, be put to death for harlotry back in Genesis 38:24. This is the first truly selfless and noble gesture that we see him make. If there is any doubt that there has been a change in Joseph’s brothers, we are certainly beginning to see evidence of it. Judah confessed his guilt over what he intended to do to Tamar (Gen. 38:26) and, along with his other brothers, confessed his sin over what he did to Joseph (Gen. 42:21). But mere acknowledgment of wrong-doing does not always indicate a repentant heart. A change in behavior is a better sign that a genuine repentance has occurred. And it seems that such a change has happened in the heart of Judah.
That Judah’s offer is not merely so many idle words is proven when the time comes for him to make good on his surety (Gen. 44:33). The same man who callously sold one brother for twenty pieces of silver (Gen. 37:28) will later offer to give his very life to save another. What a fortunate young man Benjamin was to have someone willing to give himself for him. Yet we, too, have One Who not only offered to do the same, but indeed did so. A Descendant from the tribe of Judah would later come and offer Himself as a surety for anyone who would believe on Him (Mark 10:45).