I was pretty hard on Judah and his actions when I contrasted him against Joseph a couple of days ago. I had completely forgotten about his return to the spotlight in the middle of Joseph’s brothers’ crisis.
Judah evidently left his family and started hanging out with the wrong crowd. Evidently, his parenting left something to be desired, and his own character was marred by repeated self-centered decision making.
We don’t know what time frame has passed (at least a couple of years in prison, plus 7 years of good and a year or two into the famine, I’d assume), but when Joseph’s brothers come to Egypt looking to buy food, Judah is evidently back with the family, along with his remaining living son. (The text doesn’t mention whether or not Tamar made the journey, but I think she did.)
After Reuben stands up to Jacob/Israel and says that they must take Benjamin, and he’d be responsible, Judah does the same thing. In fact he is willing to accept the blame, personally.
When they get to Egypt and things go south, who speaks up? Judah.
But, then again…whose idea was it to send Joseph into slavery? That was Judah, too.
It sounds to me that Judah may have learned his lesson after all the problems his decisions created. Then again, maybe not. Very rare is the man who actually learns from his mistakes, and almost non-existent is the one who learns from the mistakes of others.