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B'resheet/Genesis 44:18 Then Y'hudah approached Yosef and said, "Please my lord! Let your servant say something ..." (CJB)
TheVilna Gaon sees great significance in Y'hudah being the one who steps forward at this point in the story of Yosef and his brothers, although Y'hudah is only the fourth oldest in the family. He points out that in last week's parasha, Y'hudah said, "If I fail to bring [Binyamin] to you ... let me bear the blame forever" (B'resheet 43:9, CJB). The Gaon suggests that Y'hudah was pledging his place in the World to Come for his brother's safety to his father. When, therefore, Yosef confirms that he intends to keep Binyamin as his slave as punishment for stealing Yosef's cup [a frame], Y'hudah speaks up and asks to enter a mitigating plea - for Binyamin, for their father and for himself.
We can see a strong precedent here of one pledging himself for another and then speaking up in that other's defence in order to redeem or make good on the pledge, even offering himself as a forfeit against the failure of that other.
The Psalmist is quite clear when he says, "Who shall ascend to the hill of the L-rd, and who shall stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol nor sworn in vain" (Ps 24:3-4), then prophetically describes G-d observing mankind, "all turn aside, all alike are corrupt, no-one does what is right, not a single one" (Ps 14:3, NASB). Yet G-d Himself pledged for our souls when He said, " I will free you ... I will rescue you ... I will redeem you ... I will take you as My people and I will be your G-d" (Shemot 6:6-7, CJB). With all our failures, how was this to be done ?
Following the same precedent, having given His pledge, G-d offered Himself in the person of Yeshua the Messiah as the forfeit for our sin: "We all, like sheep, went astray; we turned, each one, to his own way; yet Adonai laid on Him the guilt of us all" (Isaiah 53:6, CJB). G-d effected what Derek Prince called "the great exchange", "[G-d] made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of G-d in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21, NASB). Yeshua spoke up for us, "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34), then redeemed His pledge, rising from death to proclaim His victory, "O Death, where is your victory? O Death, where is your sting?" (1 Corinthians 15:55, NASB).
Further Study: John 15:12-13; Romans 5:6-8
Application: Have you accepted the great exchange offered by G-d? Do you know forgiveness and peace with G-d because Yeshua has redeemed you Himself? Call out to Him and know His peace today.
© Jonathan Allen, 2003
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