A Familiar Theme
And Judah said to Israel his father, “Send the boy with me, and we will arise and go, … I will be a pledge of his safety. … If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame forever.”
Perhaps the most timeless narrative-arch that shows up through our Western tradition is a moment of redemption for some crooked character who surprises us in the final act. Like Sydney Carton in Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, a town drunk who gives up his life to save a friend. Or like Raskolnikov in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, a murdering scoundrel who spends the entire book trying to cover up his murder until experiencing a conversion in the epilogue. And don’t you love that Judah’s the man who steps forward here, friend? It has to be him, right?! It’s only fitting that the guy who sold out his brother for profit is now selling himself for his brother’s protection. What a metamorphosis! And shame on me for not seeing it before, for thinking that this rags-to-riches story is more about a slave becoming a king than about sinners becoming saints.
Redemption’s nice to read in a good novel, but it reads so much better in real life!