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Genesis 37:17-28

Context
37:17 The man said, “They left this area, 1  for I heard them say, ‘Let’s go to Dothan.’” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them at Dothan.

37:18 Now Joseph’s brothers 2  saw him from a distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him. 37:19 They said to one another, “Here comes this master of dreams! 3  37:20 Come now, let’s kill him, throw him into one of the cisterns, and then say that a wild 4  animal ate him. Then we’ll see how his dreams turn out!” 5 

37:21 When Reuben heard this, he rescued Joseph 6  from their hands, 7  saying, 8  “Let’s not take his life!” 9  37:22 Reuben continued, 10  “Don’t shed blood! Throw him into this cistern that is here in the wilderness, but don’t lay a hand on him.” 11  (Reuben said this 12  so he could rescue Joseph 13  from them 14  and take him back to his father.)

37:23 When Joseph reached his brothers, they stripped him 15  of his tunic, the special tunic that he wore. 37:24 Then they took him and threw him into the cistern. (Now the cistern was empty; 16  there was no water in it.)

37:25 When they sat down to eat their food, they looked up 17  and saw 18  a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were carrying spices, balm, and myrrh down to Egypt. 19  37:26 Then Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is there if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? 37:27 Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites, but let’s not lay a hand on him, 20  for after all, he is our brother, our own flesh.” His brothers agreed. 21  37:28 So when the Midianite 22  merchants passed by, Joseph’s brothers pulled 23  him 24  out of the cistern and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. The Ishmaelites 25  then took Joseph to Egypt.

1 tn Heb “they traveled from this place.”

2 tn Heb “and they”; the referent (Joseph’s brothers) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

3 tn Heb “Look, this master of dreams is coming.” The brothers’ words have a sarcastic note and indicate that they resent his dreams.

4 tn The Hebrew word can sometimes carry the nuance “evil,” but when used of an animal it refers to a dangerous wild animal.

5 tn Heb “what his dreams will be.”

6 tn Heb “him”; the referent (Joseph) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

7 sn From their hands. The instigators of this plot may have been the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah (see v. 2).

8 tn Heb “and he said.”

9 tn Heb “we must not strike him down [with respect to] life.”

10 tn Heb “and Reuben said to them.”

11 sn The verbs translated shed, throw, and lay sound alike in Hebrew; the repetition of similar sounds draws attention to Reuben’s words.

12 tn The words “Reuben said this” are not in the Hebrew text, but have been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.

13 tn Heb “him”; the referent (Joseph) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

14 tn Heb “from their hands” (cf. v. 21). This expression has been translated as “them” here for stylistic reasons.

15 tn Heb “Joseph”; the proper name has been replaced by the pronoun (“him”) in the translation for stylistic reasons.

16 tn The disjunctive clause gives supplemental information that helps the reader or hearer to picture what happened.

17 tn Heb “lifted up their eyes.”

18 tn Heb “and they saw and look.” By the use of וְהִנֵּה (vÿhinneh, “and look”), the narrator invites the reader to see the event through the eyes of the brothers.

19 tn Heb “and their camels were carrying spices, balm, and myrrh, going to go down to Egypt.”

20 tn Heb “let not our hand be upon him.”

21 tn Heb “listened.”

22 sn On the close relationship between Ishmaelites (v. 25) and Midianites, see Judg 8:24.

23 tn Heb “they drew and they lifted up.” The referent (Joseph’s brothers) has been specified in the translation for clarity; otherwise the reader might assume the Midianites had pulled Joseph from the cistern (but cf. NAB).

24 tn Heb “Joseph” (both here and in the following clause); the proper name has been replaced both times by the pronoun “him” in the translation for stylistic reasons.

25 tn Heb “they”; the referent (the Ishmaelites) has been specified in the translation for clarity.



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