Judah, His Brothers’ Keeper

Open Your Bible

Genesis 29:31, Genesis 29:35, Genesis 37:1-5, Genesis 37:14, Genesis 37:18-20, Genesis 37:23-28, Genesis 41:46, Genesis 41:55, Genesis 41:57, Genesis 42:5-14, Genesis 42:20-21, Genesis 43:1-9, Genesis 43:15, Genesis 43:29-31, Genesis 43:33-34, Genesis 44:1-5, Genesis 44:14-34, Genesis 45:4-10, Genesis 49:8-10

Start each day by reading the passages listed above. Then use the summary and reflection provided here to guide discussion around the daily reading.

Judah was the fourth son of Jacob. He proposed that they sell their brother Joseph into slavery rather than killing him, a decision that resulted in Joseph being separated from his family for more than twenty years. When Joseph tested his brothers in Egypt, Judah offered his own life to protect his younger brother Benjamin. The tribe that descended from Judah eventually came to represent the whole of the nation of Israel. 

Consider the details of Judah’s story. What aspects are surprising or unexpected?

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52 thoughts on "Judah, His Brothers’ Keeper"

  1. Cindy Matute says:


  2. kylie richardson says:

    it surprised me that God chose that brother because he got put into slavery by his own brothers and then God ended up leading Judah back to his brothers.

  3. Ashley Banks says:

    What I took away from this:
    Judah means: praise
    Joseph means: Jehovah (God) will add
    Benjamin means: son of the right [hand]

    We know based on scripture that Jesus sits on the right hand if the Father in heaven.

    So.. “Praise; God will add [the] Son of the Right hand”
    this whole conversation featuring these three men is a prophetic regarding Jesus even in their names. I just love how creatively detailed God is ❤️

  4. Terri Honeycutt says:

    It was surprising to me but it shouldn’t have been that God again uses the one who failed in a big way to follow God. However, he obviously in the 20 years since that act had remorse and had sought to follow God which was demonstrated in his care for his youngest brother. God can use what is intended for evil for His Good. Again, nothing not man, not evil can thwart God’s plans

  5. Kristen from California says:

    Terry Baldwin
    Thank you so much for the reminder of the connection between Jesus and Judah. I loved all the parallels you pointed out and the scripture cross referencing. Thank you for your knowledge.

  6. Ashley Harris says:

    I am so glad I read everyone’s comments today because I missed the connection between the title and the text. I came here knowing I was missing something. What an example of someone changing their ways.

  7. Erica Chiarelli says:

    It’s interesting and I always tell my kids this is why parents shouldn’t have favorites!!! But to see how the brothers were so cruel to Joseph ,but then years later learned their lesson, especially Judah, and were kind to Benjamin ,it would seem or at least protective for their father’s sake.

  8. Kimberly Z says:

    @Victoria E. Praying for your stomach bug! There truly isn’t anything much worse then it. I don’t have kids but I know when I have gotten down with it I am essentially useless so I can only imagine how hard it is when you have a little one! Praying you feel better!!

  9. Sandi says:

    Sending prayers for healing in Jesus’ name. Jehovah Rapha the Lord who heals

  10. Ashley White says:

    I was thinking the same thing. Good response and I’m learning a lot about how God turns evil into good.

  11. Tami C says:

    Thank you for all the comments. I’m always amazed at how insightful you all are and how much you get out of the text. I think I need to learn to ask better questions as I am reading! I love the go i on Judah and the foreshadowing of Christ. Good night shes:)

  12. Victoria E says:

    Sorry for the multiple posts- I really need prayer I’m fighting a horrible stomach bug I think my son brought home from daycare. I was completely knocked out for about a day and I’m still fighting waves of nausea and unable to eat much solid food. Please pray for healing as I work and parent (with my lovely husband) and am having trouble doing either. Thank you

  13. Victoria E says:

    Hannah Henderson lol!

  14. Victoria E says:

    Cathy- I noticed the amount too, at first I thought it was the same amount that Judas betrayed Jesus for, but that was thirty pieces of silver. Either way, a trivial amount for a person’s life!

  15. Adrianne says:

    The most unexpected but expected part of Judah’s story is the redemption Judah found in protecting his youngest brother from Joseph. Joseph was protected by our Lord and became prosperous in light of what his brothers did to him. Judah ultimately faced his sin head on in protecting Benjamin. In offering himself up, he showed our Lord what he was willing to give up for his family. It’s unexpected because you don’t think that the ringleader who plotted to kill his bother from jealousy, and ultimately sold him into slavery, would be able to be so protective, but the expected is that even after such a sin committed by Judah, our Lord redeemed him through his actions and brought a broken family back together. Our Lord can do amazing things in the face of evil.

  16. Alayna P. says:

    I read this in Enduring Word and I think it sums up today’s reading: “The great and glorious truth of God’s providence is He can and does use the evil actions of man towards us to further His good plan. This doesn’t excuse the evil, but it means God’s wisdom and goodness are greater than man’s evil.”

  17. Rachel says:

    What I noted about Judah’s story was the parallel between his recommendation to sell Joseph into slavery and then offering himself into slavery to Joseph to spare Benjamin, his expression of humility, honesty, and confession, his taking the lead even though he was fourth born (as others have mentioned), his desire to not bring grief and sorrow to his father, his desire to not sin against his father, and he became his brother’s keeper which broke a familial trend of quite the opposite, including his own prior actions. What I find so weighty of him offering his life for Benjamin’s is that Benjamin was his brother from another mother where weird competition or hostility could exist. So it was a larger act of unity.

  18. Mercy says:

    The reading today was extensive. Some chapters have selected verses, but I preferred to read the whole chapters for a more well-rounded context. I could not hold back my tears when Joseph revealed his identity, and his weeping when the pain of injustice and family betrayal of 20 years was finally released. The purpose/glory behind was revealed. God worked through all the ugly details to preserve the whole nation through ONE man’s pain (sounds familiar?). Joseph was such a gentle and quiet spirit. I must confess I was a bit shocked at the meddling and false accusations he made up to test his brothers, cunning as serpents that is, as we are called to be, and also innocent as doves. It’s a reminder that we are not only called to be innocent, but also encouraged to be cunning/wise to defeat the wicked schemes. Someone gave me an advice, you need to be cunning/wise as serpents to beat the devil in his own game. May God give us grace to be so.

    Couple of points I was reminded of the foreshadow of our precious Lord Jesus:
    1. Judah became a surety to Benjamin unto their father (Genesis 44:32). This parallels with our Lord Jesus who became our surety unto God the Father.

    2. Joseph while seeing all his brothers, none of them knew him (Genesis 42:8). This is like our Lord and also brother Jesus, who comes to his own, but his own receives Him not (John 1:11).

    Praying for KRISTEN & CEE GEE’s VBS and prayers over the kids that will attend.
    Be blessed dear sisters.

  19. Hannah Henderson says:

    We read it TAMARrow lol

  20. Terri Baldwin says:

    . Judah eventually becomes the father of many righteous kings: David, Jehoshaphat, Uzziah, Jotham, Hezekiah, and Josiah among them. Finally, one of his descendants is another Joseph, “of the house and lineage of David,” who brings his young pregnant wife to Bethlehem to register for the census (Luke 2). Indeed, this baby would be the “Lion of the tribe of Judah” (Rev. 5:5). Judah’s offspring was the preeminent one, the one before whom all men would bow: “to him shall be the obedience of the peoples” (Gen. 49:10). The kindness of God extends this far: Judah, a stain on his family for many years, repented and became the father of the King of Kings.

  21. Terri Baldwin says:

    . When Judah discovers that Tamar is pregnant he prepares to have her killed, but recants and confesses when he finds out that he is the father (Gen. 38:24-26).[6] Tamar is the mother of twins, Perez (Peretz) and Zerah (Gen. 38:27-30). The former is the patrilinear ancestor of the messiah, according to the Book of Ruth (4:18-22).

  22. Terri Baldwin says:

    Comparing Judah to a lion means he will win battles and defeat those that oppose him. In Judaism, the lion of Judah is a symbol not only of the person Judah and the tribe of Judah but the entire House of David, David being a direct descendent of Judah and also a future king.

  23. Terri Baldwin says:

    Judah, your brothers will praise you; your hand will be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons will bow down to you. You are a lion’s cub, O Judah; you return from the prey, my son.

  24. MaryAnn says:

    I wonder if we have yet to read about Judah and Tamar?

  25. Donna Wolcott says:

    Thank you all for your comments, gave me more to think on.

  26. Lydia Shin says:

    Hi I’m wondering why Genesis 38 was not included in the reading? This chapter deeply tells us of Judah’s personal sins and decision to come back to Jacob and God through the strange actions of Tamar faithfulness.

  27. Nancy S says:

    Totally agree with you, Maria Baer!

  28. Cathy says:

    I agree, God chooses and uses the unexpected. Joseph would seem the obvious choice for a place in the redeemer’s genealogy, but it’s Judah, Leah’s fourth born. This anticipates God’s later unexpected choice of David to replace Saul as king.
    Leah’s response to the births of her children always strikes me. So sad that she knows she is unloved and thinks having children will make Jacob love her. With the births of her first three children, she focuses on gaining her husband’s love, but with Judah she focuses on God. I am also surprised at the small sum for which they sold Joseph. I may be wrong but I think it was about the equivalent of one month’s wages. But it was Judah’s idea to do this rather than leave him to die.So Judah saves Joseph and Joseph saves Jacob/Israel. More importantly though Judah offers himself in place of Benjamin to save his father Israel. So much in anticipation of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice to redeem us. I also love when Joseph tells his brothers What you meant for evil, God meant for good. So often I miss read God’s work.

  29. Shelly says:

    -the brothers pit against Joseph. Gen. 37:18-20
    -the brothers threw Joseph into a pit in the wilderness. Gen. 37:23-24
    -Then, they sat by the pit while they fed the pit of their stomachs. Gen. 37:25
    -thinking Joseph was dead, Jacob was in a pit of despair. Gen. 37:34-35
    -the brothers dug themselves into a pit with their responses to Joseph in Egypt. Gen. 44:3-13

    -Like these brothers and all mankind, we are in a pit of sin. We dig pits, fill pits, and get stuck in pits. Pitiful. Rom. 3:10-12
    -Then, from the line of one of these brothers,Judah, comes the Savior Who pities the pitiful, crosses the chasm, saves from sin’s pit the repentant, and fills forever the once empty places!
    -And in Rev. 20:1-3, Satan will be thrown down to the bottomless pit for a time.

  30. Cee Gee says:

    KRISTEN – I saw your comment after posting. Praying for a big finish for your VBS and that God’s Word will speak to the hearts of many. We have ours next week and we are doing Keepers of the Kingdom.

  31. Cee Gee says:

    You ladies are so gifted with words! This is such a stirring passage with so much foreshadowing and promise!This time deception was used for good rather than for selfish gain.

    SEARCHING – How exciting! I will be reaching out later today! Love your comments and your willingness to share the questions from your heart!

    SHARON, JERSEY GIRL – Thank you for sharing your family experience yesterday. Amen to your prayer!

  32. Hope Little says:

    We read it tomorrow!

  33. Kristen says:

    Here are some things that I saw when I was looking in my study Bible. There was a note about the irony in Ch 37:31-33: having deceived his father, Isaac, with goat skins and Esau’s clothing, Jacob was now deceived by goat’s blood on his son’s clothes. It stood out to me that Joseph was sold for 20 pieces of silver. This reminds me of Judas getting silver for leading them to Jesus. Now, a note about Judah for verse 44:33 says that Judah is very different from the one who sold the boy into slavery. Judah’s self sacrificing li e here brings to mind the vicarious atonement of Judah’s royal descendant, Jesus Christ, who by His voluntary suffering healed the breach between God and humans! Praise God for His merciful plan that no one or nothing could thwart! Truly amazing!
    May I please ask for prayers for my church’s VBS. Thursday and Friday are last two days! Im not sure how many kids are attending that don’t know God, but May they come to know Jesus and may the parents be lead to Christ and be changed. I appreciate you ladies! Thank you!

  34. Linda J says:

    Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah. And he loved Jacob more than his other sons. As we see so often in the Bible, God uses the unexpected, less likely individuals for His glory. Judah, while flawed, saved his brother and offered his life to save another’s. And through Leah and Judah God would bring kings and The King. I love seeing these people and events through the lens of history. Convinces me that God can and desires to use each of His unique and imperfect children. Comforting thought!

  35. Jeanie Mclellan says:


  36. Michelle Patire says:

    Thank you for your words @Searching & @Cee Gee :)

    God bless you this morning, Shes! May our hearts believe that God works all things together for good, like He did for the sons of Jacob. What the enemy meant for evil, God meant for good. (Genesis 50:20)

  37. Allison Bentley says:

    5 And now don’t be grieved or angry with yourselves for selling me here, because God sent me ahead of you to preserve life. – Genesis 45:5. Wow! What a beautiful outlook of a harsh reality. How many times do I look at my circumstances and say I am here because God sent me ? Also I love the story of Judah- his development goes from anger, jealousy and hate to leader, provider and eventually in the lineage of Jesus. What grace our father shows us!!!!

  38. Charlie says:

    I had actually just finished reading through Genesis last month, and because of that I almost skipped this… but I’m so glad I didn’t. I appreciate the focus on Judah. I’ve never picked up on his part in this story before! I know the story of he and Tamar well but I’d never seen him as a protector before. Really interesting!

  39. Sharon, Jersey Girl says:

    I love the story of Joseph – it is one of my all time favorites! But of all the times I’ve read it, this is the first time that I see Judah as the “star” instead of Joseph. Judah was the brother who stood out, he seems to be the spokes person for the family both with Joseph and with Jacob. God used Joseph by allowing him to be sold to the Egyptians and taken to Egypt — to preserve the life of his family, especially Judah from whose line the Messiah would come. The blessing that he got when Jacob was on his deathbed, was prophetic of what was to come – the scepter would not depart him, until He comes to whom it belongs — Jesus Christ! It is so beautiful to see God’s plan of salvation woven all through the scripture, from Genesis all the way to Revelation!

    Have a blessed & thankful Thursday!

  40. Maria Baer says:

    This is the first time that I noticed all the details and nuances about Judah’s story. We hear about eh tribe of Judah and the Lion of Judah, but I never connected the dots with Jesus’ story. I love that, while this study is different without the daily devotional, I am learning so much about the context of what we are reading and through everyone’s comments.

  41. K ♡ says:

    One thing I love about this study is it really prompts deep diving, and Judah is a whole picture I hadn’t seen before – the rebellion, redemption, restoration, and transformation. I loved this commentary quote: “Judah’s life provides an example of how God can transform and use anybody for His purpose. From a worldly perspective, Judah was an unimportant son who grew into a callous teenager, and a poor father…No man is beyond God’s reach, beyond God’s hope, and through Judah’s descendent, mankind has the promise of salvation and everlasting life.”

  42. Brielle Hebert says:

    In this story we see Jacob having a favorite (Joseph) just as his mother Rebekah had a favorite (Jacob). History repeats itself in this aspect and both times we see the consequences of the hurt, resentment, and anger it evokes (Esau wanting to kill Jacob, jacob’s sons wanting to kill Joseph). Yet despite the consequences, it was all part of God’s plan to use it for good and accomplish his purposes.

  43. Kristine Loughman says:

    I have to say, I was relieved to read this story of Judah. After the past few days of people with dubious moral character taking a starring role in the lineage of Jesus, it was nice to read about a man who stepped up and tried to do the right thing by averting a murder and volunteering to take his brother’s place. May we have the courage of Judah to step in when we see injustice and to speak truth.

  44. Searching says:

    Again, we see God’s plan carried out – despite the worst intentions of man. Jumping ahead, in Gen 50:20 Joseph is speaking and says “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” Same with Christ’s crucifixion.

    Now to the question of the day, what aspects about Judah are surprising or unexpected? His willingness and ability to convince his brothers to sell Joseph rather than kill him. The others (except likely Reuben) hated Joseph and when several people are of one mind to do evil, it is seems impossible to change their minds. We saw it in the crowd screaming to crucify Christ and we see it today with gangs, etc. And Judah carried that empathy in him when he offered to stand in for Benjamin.

    LAUREN GW – good to see you!

    MERCY – I am also missing DOROTHY and pray she is well. Her daily encouragement is missed.

    RHONDA J – praise for the jail ministry going well

    THERESA – praying for safe travels today as your husband travels for his passport appt tomorrow

    MICHELLE P – thankful you were able to get your car repaired and that your brother was knowledgeable to provide advice. Praying he will come to know Jesus, and for financial provision for you ❤️

    HEIDI – hope the trip is going smoothly

    CEE GEE – clear results yesterday for my friend – praise the Lord! And if you’d like, please reach out at me at searchingsrt at yahoo. I’ll soon be sorta not all that far from your area for a while.

    Continuing to pray, sisters, for other requests.

  45. Katalina says:

    One aspect I found very surprising was I actually always believed Judah was the first born. I didn’t realize he was the fourth. With that being said, it goes to show that it doesn’t take a special person or unique set of circumstances for God to use you and bless you greatly. The other aspect I found surprising but also comforting is that Judah was participant of a crime against his own brother. He was a sinner just like all of us and made a big mistake. We’ve all been there in some way. But when you’re under God’s protection and God’s promise, He will not let you go. Not only did Judah receive forgiveness from God but from the brother he committed the crime against which in our flesh would be considered unforgivable. After all that, his tribe came to represent the whole nation of Israel. No matter what happens in this life, God will always have the final say. It’s our job to find our way back to the Lord when we start to stray but He will present every opportunity to us to make the right choice. There is always hope.

  46. Erica Wilson says:

    The fact that Judah’s father and brothers listen to him speaks to his leadership in his family, even though he was fourth-born. When he speaks to Joseph after he finds the cup in Benjamin’s bag, Judah humbles himself and downs try to defend himself or his brothers, but rather steps in as the sacrifice in Benjamin’s place. This is true leadership!!

  47. Aimee D-R says:

    Redemption…even wrong decisions can’t stop God’s plan.

  48. Kelly (NEO) says:

    In the 20 years that we span in these readings, Judah had lost his wife and two sons (Gen. 38). Maybe he came to understand the grief his father experienced from the “loss” of Joseph and his heart was filled with remorse and compassion.

    THERESA – praying for safe travels and smooth transactions for your husband

    TRACI GENDRON – praying the sale of Tanner’s house goes quickly

    CEE GEE – praying that the Lord will draw many children to Himself next week at VBS

    KATIE L – praying you will find favor with the judge in the case with your MIL

    DOROTHY- praying your new job is going well

    CHRISTINA SCHMIDT – contining to pray the Lord is meeting your needs while your husband is deployed

  49. Ryann Ketzle says:

    The verses we didn’t read (37:21-22) tell us Reuben tried to defend Joseph first by putting him in the well, then coming back later to return Joseph to his father. It strikes me that that was not God’s plan. That would have been maybe “easier” for Joseph. But God’s plan was harder, many years of imprisonment to refine his character and put him in a place to save many lives. So God’s way is not always the “easier” way, but the most redemptive way.

  50. Carol Rimmer says:

    I was surprised that Jesus’ family heritage through Judah was from Leah (the one who was ‘neglected’), and not Rachel!
    It also seems that Judah is the one who speaks up in this story, even though he’s the fourth born.
    Also, it’s interesting how Joseph was the one who had the dreams about his brothers’ sheaves bowing down to his sheaf, and ‘the sun, moon, and eleven stars’ bowing down to him, but in the end Jacob says to Judah ‘your brothers will praise you’, and ‘your father’s sons will bow down to you’

  51. Chelsea Wilson says:

    I feel like Judah is the unsung hero. I never noticed all these details about Judah before! I didn’t realize he was the one who suggested they sell Joseph into slavery, and I didn’t notice that he was the one who said he would take Benjamin’s place for punishment! You hear about “the lion of the tribe of Judah”, but I never connected these dots!!! I do miss the devotion write ups because I know the writer does a lot of research to teach us more Bible history. I am happy to read everyone’s comments though, we are a community learning from one another what the Bible is teaching us! Judah is the brother that I didn’t really know until reading the passages today. Thank you for the well laid out explanation from the Bible!

  52. Lauren GW says:

    It strikes me that Judah offered to substitute his life for Benjamin’s, the same way Jesus substituted his life for ours.