Genesis 37:20 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 37:20, NIV: Come now, let's kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we'll see what comes of his dreams.'

Genesis 37:20, ESV: Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits. Then we will say that a fierce animal has devoured him, and we will see what will become of his dreams.”

Genesis 37:20, KJV: Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams.

Genesis 37:20, NASB: Now then, come and let’s kill him, and throw him into one of the pits; and we will say, ‘A vicious animal devoured him.’ Then we will see what will become of his dreams!'

Genesis 37:20, NLT: 'Come on, let's kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns. We can tell our father, 'A wild animal has eaten him.' Then we'll see what becomes of his dreams!'

Genesis 37:20, CSB: So now, come on, let's kill him and throw him into one of the pits. We can say that a vicious animal ate him. Then we'll see what becomes of his dreams! "

What does Genesis 37:20 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

As Joseph approaches their camp, his 10 older brothers are plotting to murder him in cold blood (Genesis 37:18). They mock him to each other, referring to Joseph's self-reported dreams about ruling over them all (Genesis 37:5, 9, 19). Their hate is mostly inspired by their father's blatant favoritism (Genesis 37:3–5). Joseph is far from the safety of home, and the opportunity is ripe for an act of revenge (Genesis 37:12–17).

As Joseph draws nearer, the brothers lay out a plan. They scheme to kill Joseph and throw his body into a hole in the ground. The Hebrew word bowr is used generically to describe a "pit," but it can also refer to a dungeon. In this case, the brothers are speaking about "cisterns:" temporary wells used to gather rainwater (Genesis 37:24).

After murdering Joseph, the brothers plan to return home and report to their father Jacob that a wild animal killed and ate Joseph. They conclude by mocking Joseph's dreams of ruling over them once more. Murdering him, they think, will prevent his predictions from coming to pass. Literature often includes villains who try to thwart prophecy, only to find their actions helped fulfill it. What these murderous siblings don't realize is that they are making Joseph's dreams come true (Genesis 37:28; 42:6), as part of God's masterful behind-the-scenes plan (Genesis 50:20).