Today’s Reading: Genesis 37-39
Today’s Reflection: Genesis 37:26-28
26) Then Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? 27) Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.” And his brothers listened to him. 28) Then Midianite traders passed by. And they drew Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. They took Joseph to Egypt.
Joseph’s brothers, tired of his boastful dreams and his being the favorite of their father, cast him into a pit and even considered killing him. It was Judah, the 4th eldest, who came up with the idea of selling Joseph into slavery. By so doing Judah foreshadowed the greatest depths of human treachery, and the greatest heights of God’s grace and mercy.
Judah, who’s name was Hebrew for ‘let God be praised’ was one of the 12 sons of Israel (Jacob). He made the decision to profit financially from the persecution of his brother Joseph, selling him in exchange for 20 pieces of silver. Unbeknownst to him God would use this turn of events to save the known world from the devastation of a worldwide famine (Genesis 45:5-8), but this didn’t diminish the cruelty of his actions.
Many years later another Judah, known by the Hebrew variation Judas, would be one of 12 disciples in the formation of a new Israel (Galatians 3:26-29). He would also attempt to profit financially from the persecution of an innocent man, selling his rabbi Jesus in exchange for 30 pieces of silver (Matthew 26:14-16). Unbeknownst to him God would use this turn of events to save the known world from their sins, but this didn’t diminish the cruelty of his actions.
Despite this association between the name Judah and the betrayal of innocence, even the betrayal of God Himself, God’s mercy is so great not only did He redeem Judah, but He chose Judah’s tribe to be the lineage leading to the birth of Jesus Himself. Why would Jesus so intimately associate Himself with someone who had done this?
First because Judah and Judas are also symbols of our own treachery. Through our sins we have all betrayed God, we have each sold the innocent Jesus in exchange for our greed, our lust, our fear.
Secondly so we could understand that when Jesus prayed “Father forgive them for they know not what they do,” He wasn’t just praying for His murderers, or His betrayer Judas, but for you and for me too.
Last and most importantly, to show that there is no sin great enough that it cannot be forgiven and no sinner who cannot be redeemed, if they would only turn back to God and receive His grace and mercy. This is the greatest gift found in the shadow of the cross.