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Joseph, Judah, and the Road to Justice
I’ve wanted to publish this piece for some time, but 5,300 words is a lot to ask. Then I read’s recent 5,000 word essay (which I highly recommend, titled Pastoral Courage in an Age of Populist Relativism), and seeing that gave me the courage to share something of similar length (and as it happens, a slightly similar theme). Thanks for reading!
Part 1: The Road to Slavery
Will you be one of the faithful? Will you take responsibility for the need of the moment, even if everyone around you stays silent and complacent? God asks those questions of his people numerous times throughout Scripture. I invite you to join me on a slow journey through some familiar stories in Genesis to hear and see how God transforms unfaithful conformists to faithful followers of the God of justice. Our path through these stories is an unconventional one, so first, let’s consider our approach.
Like David listening to Nathan’s parable, we are often quick to identify ourselves with the hero in a story. Similarly, we see the villain and think, how vile! But some stories challenge those biased reflexes. While we might have mixed feelings about them, there is something to be said for the recent trend of stories centered on classic villains. Cruella, for instance. Shockingly—if we pause long enough to be honest with ourselves—we connect with and even empathize with Estella-turned-Cruella. A two-sided, black-and-white static plot device becomes a complex, dynamic, and dare I say it, human person. We find ourselves—and I’m no expert film critic, but this seems to be the intent—asking, who is the villain, really? Cruella is, well, cruel, but then again, “hurt people hurt people.” Faced with the classic nature vs. nurture question, is her mother, Baroness Von Hellman, to blame for Cruella’s dark side? Or perhaps it’s a mixture of experience and genealogy and Cruella’s own agency? Wherever we land on that question, the movie challenges us to consider the influence of the genealogical road which Cruella is on from birth to adulthood.
This reflective commentary travels that road in the stories that make up the Jacob-Joseph-Judah saga of Genesis 37-50, focusing on chapters 37 and 42-44. Multiple roads are traveled in those chapters: Joseph on the road to Shechem and then Dothan to find his brothers; the Ishmaelites on the road from Dothan to Egypt with Joseph in chains; and Joseph’s ten brothers traveling the same road from Canaan to Egypt twice. Those journeys to and from Egypt were likely about 12-14 days. Anyone who has hiked or traveled multiple days in a row by car knows how much time there is for reflection and conversation. While it is worth imagining what Joseph might have been thinking on that providential road to slavery, these reflections are more interested in the journeys made by his brothers. For them, the road to Egypt was one that confronted their slavery to self and injustice. Could God use that road to bring Jacob’s ten sons to justice? Might God even put them on a different road, the road that leads to being just? Before we answer those questions, let’s take a closer look at this patriarchal family.
A Psychosocial Assessment of Jacob and His Kin
Enter Joseph, the hero of technicolor fame. He fights off dungeons, temptresses and dreams, and even solves the problem of world hunger. Then there are his ten brothers, up to no good according to the golden boy. The “bad report” Joseph brings (Gen. 37:2) foreshadows worse to come, so much worse that Jacob’s one good leg will not keep him from falling into the grave when it comes (Gen. 37:35). Jacob is himself a complex hero. At times it seems like he can’t make up his mind. One day he’s heel-grabbing Jacob (cf. Gen. 26:26), conniving his way through life for love and the pursuit of happiness; the next day he’s God-fearing Israel (cf. Gen. 32:28), wrestling down blessing from heaven for himself, his family, and the families of the earth. We have to ask who is showing up in each story, Israel or Jacob? Occasionally Moses answers that question by using one name rather than the other; often we see both sides of the man in the same story. When we get to Genesis 37, we are told “These are the generations of Jacob,” not Israel (Gen. 37:2). This prepares us to see a portrayal of Joseph colored more by the “Jacob” side of Jacob.
Joseph is out in the field with four of his older brothers, Gad, Asher, Dan and Napthali. Where the six sons of Leah are, we aren’t told. Perhaps the dirty work was given to the sons of the concubines. Even though Joseph was the oldest son of Jacob’s favorite wife Rachel, he’s still the youngest work-eligible boy, and like Jesse’s youngest son David he is assigned the least favorable job. Seniority is a universal phenomenon, after all, and even favored Joseph isn’t spared the long road up the totem pole. Did he resent being relegated to the dangerous grunt work that his next oldest brothers Issachar and Zebulun, sons of Leah, were able to avoid, even though they were younger than the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah? Perhaps that is the motive with which he “brought a bad report of [Gad, Asher, Dan and Napthali] to their father.” We are told that Joseph is the favored son of Jacob, as if that helps explain why Joseph brought the bad report. He would do the work, but not without grumbling or complaining.
Attachment Trauma in Canaan
Before we consider what happened in Dothan (Gen. 37:17ff), we need to consider the impact of growing up in a family where the mothers were unloved and unseen. Gad, Asher, Dan and Naphtali, sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, were only alive because their step-mothers Rachel and Leah were jealous of the very limited and preferential affection of a man who, like his father Isaac, was often blind to the needs of anyone but himself.
Understandably, explicit forms of early childhood trauma like physical and sexual abuse can lead to the need for professional mental health treatment in adulthood. But less observable harm like emotional and relational neglect can be just as damaging, as has been demonstrated by studies of orphans living in eastern Europe during the Cold War. They were given food and shelter, but had no one to offer love, warmth and presence. The longterm harm of not only feeling but actually being rejected was just as severe as survivors of physical and sexual abuse.
Not that these brothers of Joseph were subject to systemic neglect, but perhaps we can gain some insight into their character and personalities through the lens of attachment research. The landmark Adverse Childhood Experiences study by CDC-Kaiser defines emotional neglect as
“Someone in your family never or rarely helped you feel important or special, you never or rarely felt loved, people in your family never or rarely looked out for each other and felt close to each other, or your family was never or rarely a source of strength and support.”
We aren’t explicitly told that the brothers were emotionally neglected, but that Kaiser definition resonates with the stories about this family. The context of their births described in Gen. 29-30 is filled with animosity and an intense range of negative emotions. Leah felt hated, afflicted, unloved, unattached and dishonored (Gen. 29:31-34, 30:20). The births of Bilhah’s sons are marked by envy and anger (Gen. 30:1-9). Rachel felt reproach and shame from her childlessness (Gen. 30:23). The names of all 12 sons even suggests a form of parentification, where a parent uses a child to meet his or her needs rather than, or even at the expense of, the child’s needs. So we should wonder, how and to what degree the boys’ early development was impaired by insecure attachment patterns? Imagine these mothers, all four of them, possessing little secure attention for their sons due to the emptiness of their own emotional cups.
Of course, if the mothers struggled with emotional pain, that was largely caused by the neglect of Jacob. So we should also imagine the progressive impact on the sons of being constantly overlooked by the one whose opinion mattered most: Jacob, the paterfamilias. The ten older brothers endure 17 years of birthdays for the special chosen son, complete with bounce house, clown, and special donkey-rides, while they only get a card with a fiver, and maybe—if that year’s crop yielded a little extra money—a fig birthday cake. You want to be happy for your little brother, cute and baby faced as he is, but it’s so hard not to think of everything he has that you always wanted but mother and father said was too expensive.
Then, of course, there’s that damn robe. Like a cruel game of duck duck goose, Jacob passes over Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar and Zebulun, who all watch in anticipation to see who will get that designer robe father had said he was saving up for. Finally Jacob puts his hand on Joseph, asks him to stand up, places the robe first on his arms and then lifts it above his shoulders, and asks him to do the fashion turnaround. Meanwhile the brothers’ jaws drop in awestruck envy, but they are not surprised. No, the raffle was rigged. They knew Joseph’s name was the only one placed in the bowl, and they berate themselves for even hoping that one of them would be chosen for once.
By the time Joseph turns 17 years old, the bratty tattle-tale has the swagger to pretend that his favored position is really from divine influence rather than their passively preferential father. When he comes of age he is going to get the cushy desk job and run the family business, but if father wants to ignore social custom what options do they really have? C’est la vie. But those dreams, those stupid, childish, vain dreams of a vain adolescent, seeking to give religious legitimacy to what should be shibboleth and unquestionable, it is just too much. Like the clinically depressed sleep deprived mother who is shocked to hear a voice suggest that shaking the baby will stop the incessant crying, the brothers are shocked to see images of their hands around Joseph’s throat flash before their eyes. No, that is not the answer, of course not, though they don’t know how long they can keep tolerating the neglectful partiality. Maybe they can hope for a tragic accident, but harming flesh and blood is horrifically taboo. So they shove the image from their minds and move on to the next task of the season, migrating north where there’s adequate food for the flock. At least they’ll be spared Joseph’s snobby face for a few months because their father would rather keep him safe at home.
That Fateful Day in Dothan
But then he shows up. Having to see him day in and day out in Mamre is bad enough, now even their secret, secluded hideout in Dothan is no longer safe from this fancy-pants and his fancy robe. The warm clouds on the horizon get hit with a blast of cold air from this symbol of their father’s spurn, and the hurricane starts spinning irresistibly inside their hearts.
Unloved. Hard working but unrecognized. Understandably jealous. Unstable. Emotionally dysregulated. The confrontation in Dothan is almost scripted, it’s so inevitable. “They said to one another, ‘Here comes this dreamer. Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits. Then we will say that a fierce animal has devoured him, and we will see what will become of his dreams,” (Gen. 37:19).
But I wonder, did all of them really say “let’s kill the brat”? Or was it Simeon and Levi who devised the plan, hardened killers that they were already (Gen. 34)? Being near the top of the pecking order, and speaking with bold rhetoric, what’s a younger Gad or Asher or Issachar or Zebulun supposed to say to their idolized elder brothers? Or Dan and Naphtali, we can’t really expect them to oppose the others and risk being thrown in with Joseph’s lot, right? This wouldn’t be the first (or the last) instance of group think in the Bible. Though they all may have been equally filled with hatred for Joseph, perhaps that was just a result of propaganda from those most incensed with Joseph’s impropriety.
What else but hate and propaganda could allow these ten men to sit down for an afternoon nosh beside the gaping whole in the ground where they dumped their brother? “The pit was empty; there was no water in it,” (Gen. 37:24), but they managed to fill it to the brim with envy and hate. Such callousness is hard to imagine and explain, at least for those who have not suffered as Joseph’s brothers did. For the brothers did indeed suffer, even though suffering had the opposite effect on them as it did on Joseph. Not that the wounds of neglect removed their responsibility. Far from it. Otherwise we wouldn’t witness the stunning reversal Judah makes between Genesis 38 and 45, to which we will turn next.
But before we get there, we watch as Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar and Zebulun walk the 65 mile road from Dothan back to their father in Hebron, perhaps a three day journey. With each stop along the way home, pausing for rest and sleep, the finality of what they have done grumbles in their stomachs and haunts their dreams. There is no turning back, so they irreversibly turn the coat of many colors into a coat of red, the color of sacrifice. And we wonder, what was sacrificed. Their conscience? Every ill-conceived word they speak in Genesis 37:32 affirms that guess. They “found” the robe, rather than stripped it from Joseph; they say “please”, as if they are making a respectful request for more food; they say “recognize”, as if both they and their father can’t immediately tell that it’s Joseph’s; they say “your son’s”, as if Joseph is not really their brother. Actually, that last phrase might be the only honest thing they say. They have traveled quite a long way from being and acting as brothers to Joseph. Have they traveled too far? Joseph traveled the road to slavery in Egypt. Did his brothers also become slaves on the road back to their father, enslaved to selfish pride and self-deceit?
But we conclude this portion by remembering not where these men end up—emotionally, relationally and spiritually—at the end of Genesis 37, but where they began. However we understand the psychology of Joseph’s older brothers, an honest reading of Genesis 37 would do well to take some cues from stories like Cruella. Villains are first humans before they become inhuman. Which is to say, before they looked like them, they first looked like us.
Part 2: The Road to Justice
We will pick up the thread from the brothers’ sale of Joseph 22 years later in Gen. 42. By the time Moses puts Jacob and his sons back on the scene in 42:1, the famine first mentioned in Egypt in ch. 41 has spread to Canaan. 22 years have passed since that fateful day in Dothan in Gen. 37. We don’t know what transpired back in Canaan with Jacob’s sons, but 22 years is a long time. Joseph’s disappearance went unsolved, a cold case where all the witnesses to the crime were hushed with bribe money.
We will see how Joseph knows he needs to be rough but also indirect in order to rouse his brothers’ conscience from a 22 year hibernation. From rough speech (Gen. 42:7) to rough shackles (Gen. 42:17), Joseph’s testing will dogs their heels with tenacity, unrelenting until their guilt is confessed. But they will be slow to wake up. When the brothers come back into view in Gen. 42 they really appear to be walking around in a daze: “[Jacob] said to his sons, ‘Why do you look at one another?’” (Gen. 42:1). Why indeed? What was the source of their lethargy? Was it the countless sleepless nights they suffered, assaulted by images of Joseph begging for his life? How many goats did they sacrifice in those 22 years and have to smell the sin of their fratricide and patricide (Gen. 37:35)? With prodding from their father, who kept Benjamin safe at home, the ten brothers travel about 200 miles from Hebron to Egypt. Mindless transportation softens the mind where troubled thoughts can break through, like water softening the hard surface of Canaan dirt; but the hard hearts of these men are not so vulnerable.
Conscience, like all human faculties, can bless and also curse. The same Hebrew word for “hardened,” as in “Pharaoh’s heart was hardened” (Ex. 7:13), is also used to say “be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” (Ps. 27:14). The human heart can be strong in and for God, or it can be strong against God and for self. For these brothers, it was clearly the latter. In the words of Martin Luther,
“These coarse fellows are unrepentant. These pieces of flint, these diamonds, must be broken and crushed, and their eyes must be opened, in order that they may see the atrociousness of their crime.”1
Awakened by Interrogation
When the brothers arrive in Egypt, Joseph does not accuse them of their true crime. As far as the brothers are aware, an unknown foreign ruler is accosting them with false accusations: “You are spies; you have come to see the nakedness of the land” (Gen. 42:9). So they protested, “No, my lord, your servants have come to buy food. We are all sons of one man. We are honest men. Your servants have never been spies” (Gen. 42:11). Was their protest truthful and justified? Everyone has been on the receiving end of unexpected criticism. Surprised by a complaint, we search for a shield to deflect the arrows. It is telling, though, when we pull out a riot shield instead of a buckler. The brothers slip right into Joseph’s trap by defending more than they were accused of: “We are honest men.” Really?
It is one thing to say truthfully, “your servants have never been spies,” and entirely another to claim to be “honest men.” In light of that defense, Joseph refocuses his laser on the brothers’ integrity, not their occupation or function, and demands that they bring their remaining brother “that your words may be tested, whether there is truth in you…if you are honest men” (Gen. 42:16, 19).
Well, are they honest men? Perhaps their hearts started to soften and stir, just a little, as that question echoed in their brains for three days. Psalm 105:22 says that Pharaoh gave Joseph power “to bind his princes at his pleasure”, and we can imagine shackles chafing their consciences awake like a bad rug burn. The terseness of Genesis 42:17 compels us to wonder what was thought, felt and said in the king’s jail: “And he put them all together in custody for three days.”
Scripture tells of many who were put through the three-day ringer of repentance and restoration:
The chief cupbearer and chief baker await their fate for three days after Joseph’s interpretation (Gen. 40:12-19);
Pharaoh and Egypt endure three days of pitch darkness (Ex. 10:21-23);
Israel grumbles in dying thirst after their first three days in the wilderness (Ex. 15:22-25);
Jonah has three days of omega-3 overload in the belly of the fish (Jonah 1:17);
The followers of Jesus wait with their dreams in the grave with Jesus’s body for three days.
What do all of these have in common? Aside from the future-oriented question of what’s around the corner, there are the questions of the present—“Where is God?”—and of the past—“Why did this happen?” The latter appears to be on the brothers’ minds, because it is only after three days of detention in the dark that their guilt bubbles to the surface: “Then they said to one another, “In truth we are guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his soul, when he begged us and we did not listen. That is why this distress has come upon us” (Genesis 42:21).
So their sin was not entirely repressed from memory. Thanks to the crafty testing of Joseph, son of crafty Jacob, the brothers’ unwashed conscience haunts them with flashbacks not previously disclosed. Nowhere in Genesis 37 are we told that Joseph cried out for help. Neither do we as readers ever believe that Joseph is dead. But even though no human blood was spilt, Reuben speaks what til now has been unspeakable: “So now there comes a reckoning for his blood” (Gen. 42:22).
The timing of this partial confession suggests something about the path to repentance. Why do we hear this empathic statement from the brothers now, and not earlier? Sympathy is often a product of suffering. Now that the brothers have themselves been subject to affliction, their hard hearts soften just enough to feel the pangs of conscience.
We might imagine the brothers voicing this regret in a whisper, even though they think the rough Egyptian is baffled by their rough-sounding Hebrew. Sometimes confessions are really just the quick pull of a pressure release valve; the boiler of unrepentant sin is still burning. Joseph sees the pressure getting to them, but he knows he needs to turn up the heat before they are ready to blow the whole lid off their dishonesty. So he devises a series of further tests, tests so cunning and ironic we wouldn’t be surprised to find them in a Shakespearean drama.
What Is This That God Has Done To Us?
Joseph sends them home with extra money and one fewer brother, thus reenacting their return to Jacob after selling him to the Ishmaelites: 11 brothers minus 1, plus 20 shekels of silver (Gen. 37:28, 43:24-25). Unlike their prior journeys, we are not left wondering what they were thinking on this trip back to Canaan. Realizing one brother had his money returned to his sack (let alone all ten of them), they tremble with fear. Only this time it is not the Egyptian lord they are afraid of, but God: “What is this that God has done to us?” (Gen. 42:28). Is God executing justice for a crime they did commit by setting them up for a crime they did not? Justice is on their mind with each passing mile, but is it the other-centered justice of the righteous, or the self-centered fear of justice of the criminal?
Judah’s speech and action in Genesis 43 suggest the answer to that question is somewhat ambivalent. When the grain runs out, they will not return for more food without Benjamin and risk the Egyptian’s wrath, for Joseph had imprisoned Simeon until they proved their honesty by returning to Egypt with Benjamin. But when Jacob stubbornly resists releasing Benjamin, Judah steps up and shows that he was traveling a different road then the rest of his brothers after they discovered the returned silver. His sacrificial pledge must have surprised everyone present, even himself. The willingness to accept blame weighs on Judah during the 200 mile return to Egypt, causing him to strain his neck from the temptation to focus on self and self-preservation.
When they arrive back in Egypt, Joseph initiates phase two of his test and reenacts the favoritism for the youngest that Jacob had for Joseph. Joseph throws a royal party, quite unexpected in a time of famine and hunger. Having traveled 200 miles with scarce provisions, the brothers were surely starving. But as they begin to dig in they watch with salivating jealousy as Benjamin’s portions keep coming: one helping, a second helping, a third helping, a fourth helping, a fifth helping. How unfair! Apparently their father’s favoritism wasn’t as unusual as they thought, but the memory stings. Thankfully, what they lack in food they are able to fill up with wine, and they drown their envy with intoxication (Gen. 34:34).
With each reenactment Joseph drives a subversive question: have these men changed, or will they repeat their past injustices? What the other nine brothers are thinking we don’t know, but at least Judah appears to discern the divine hand of God behind their misfortune: “God has found out the guilt of your servants,” (Gen. 44:16). Believing the rest of his brothers are equally willing to submit to God’s sentencing, he adds, “behold, we are my lord’s servants, both we and he also in whose hand the cup has been found.” Quite the humble statement, but Joseph is not satisfied. For the final act, Joseph lays a trap that confronts the brothers more directly then any of the previous tests.
The Final Test
“But he said, far be it from me that I should do so! Only the man in whose hand the cup was found shall be my servant. But as for you, go up in peace to your father,” (Gen. 44:17).
Peace. Would it be a peaceful return if the only remaining son of their father’s beloved wife Rachel was also lost forever? Lack of peace (shalom) is part of what started this familial strife back in Genesis 37: “But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak [shalom] to him” (37:4). And Jacob had sent Joseph to “see if it is [shalom] with your brothers and with the flock, and bring me word” (37:14). Surely they never forgot the despairing grief of their father who “refused to be comforted and said, ‘No, I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning,’” (37:35). How could they forget, when Jacob said the same thing about the prospect of Benjamin going to Egypt: “If harm should happen to him on the journey that you are to make, you would bring my gray hairs with sorrow to Sheol,” (Gen. 42:38).
No, it would not be shalom if they returned while the favored son was left in Egyptian custody. But concern for their father had not stopped them with Joseph. They have proved themselves capable of hardening their hearts while traveling the harsh roads between Canaan and Egypt. Are they still governed more by jealous fraternal hatred than paternal love? Here is their chance to once and for all be done with the spoiled offspring of Rachel.
We know it is Judah who turns the tide, but what would have happened had he been silent? Would Reuben have spoken up as he had regarding the killing of Joseph and rescue of Simeon? But his appeals were nil for two. Simeon is the next oldest, but we might excuse him for focusing on self-preservation after his stint in the joint. That leaves Levi, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar and Zebulun. What were they thinking?
We can imagine them standing around, looking at one another just like they did during the famine (Gen. 42:1). Who wants to be the one to speak up and risk further upsetting this impassible vizier? For that matter, who gave Judah the right to say they would all plead guilty and accept punishment along with Benjamin for a crime they clearly did not commit? Group think was very effective when they stood to gain, whether in profit (Gen. 37) or in vengeance (Gen. 34). But virtuous group think? Does such a thing exist?
With each glance from brother to brother they turn inwardly back and forth between two terrible options. Hand over Benjamin to the Egyptians and put their father to death; or go with Benjamin into prison and put their entire family to death with no hope of further provisions for the famine. Their helplessness keeps them gagged as the awkward silence rises to dangerous decibels. What will they do? Like suspects being interviewed in secluded cells, they are unable to get their story straight first, and it’s every man for himself.
In this tense silence, when all routes of escape have been eliminated, they need a third option. But guilt, fear and grief cloud the mind with a storm of impaired cognition that make brainstorming impossible. Mental clarity in this situation is only possible for one who has already blown away some of the fog through confession. And so we see that Judah’s leadership up to this moment has not only pushed the story closer to resolution, but has also pushed himself closer to redemption.
The road to repentance is usually uphill, and each step along the way stretches the muscles and strengthens for further progress. With limbs stretched and lungs acclimated to the thin air, one’s ability to climb steps at 5,000 feet is actually greater than at the initial 5. And while there is such a thing as group think, it is doubtful that group repentance works without personal repentance. So the other nine brothers are simply unable to take the next step. If there is any hope for them, any hope for Benjamin and Jacob, any hope for father Abraham’s family, indeed any hope for the world which Abraham’s family was called to save, it rests on the one who has already taken strides to right the wrongs of his sinful past.
The Lone Voice In The Wilderness
We know, of course, that Judah was that one. Scripture has many such stories of dire situations resting in the hands of the courageous minority, taking a stand for what is right and just even if no one around them was: Caleb and Joshua; Esther and Mordecai; Abigail; Nathan; the wise woman of 2 Samuel 20; Elijah; John the Baptist. Sometimes it is up to just one or two faithful followers of YHWH to pave the road to justice, a lone voice in the wilderness, whether that be the wilderness of a dysfunctional family, local church, school, or denomination.
This reflection started with some pointed questions. Here is another, pointed at myself as much as you the reader. Will we put our own chips on the table and bet against the shameful cost of doing nothing and letting others suffer? There is always risk involved. Judah thought he was putting his life in the hands of a heartless Egyptian master. Caleb and Joshua knew there would be death and bloodshed. Esther realized she might die for doing the forbidden. Abigail crossed over multiple lines of decorum and risked the ire of a vengeful warrior. Nathan could have received the power hungry response of a Jezebel; the wise woman could have been considered a hostile insurgent by Joab; Elijah was public enemy number one; and John the Baptist, well, his head is in the dictionary definition for “grizzly end”.
But the cause of justice was more important than their own safety. Judah’s trials and steps of repentance brought him to the same crossroads: save his own life, and abandon his youngest brother and father; or risk losing his life, and save his brothers, his father, and his entire family.
Like Abraham in Gen. 22, Judah really didn’t know where the risky road would lead. But perhaps, in some distant corner of his heart, God had been recalling words passed down from his great-grandfather Abraham:
“For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what he has promised him,” (Genesis 18:19).
Judah refused the road of self-preservation, refused to return to his father via the road of broken promises. Instead, he chose the road to justice. May the Spirit of God inspire each and every one of us to do the same.2
Lectures on Genesis, in Luther’s Works, 7:236.