Verse

Genesis 37:21

ESV But when Reuben heard it, he rescued him out of their hands, saying, “Let us not take his life.”
NIV When Reuben heard this, he tried to rescue him from their hands. 'Let's not take his life,' he said.
NASB But Reuben heard this and rescued him out of their hands by saying, 'Let’s not take his life.'
CSB When Reuben heard this, he tried to save him from them. He said, "Let's not take his life."
NLT But when Reuben heard of their scheme, he came to Joseph’s rescue. 'Let’s not kill him,' he said.
KJV And Reuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands; and said, Let us not kill him.

What does Genesis 37:21 mean?

Joseph's older brothers want him dead (Genesis 37:3–5, 18), and so have arranged a plot. When he arrives at their camp (Genesis 37:12–17), they have planned to kill him and throw his body in a nearby dry cistern (Genesis 37:19–20). Later, they can then tell their father that his favorite son was killed by a wild animal.

For reasons Scripture does not directly explain, the oldest brother objects. Reuben insists they should not kill Joseph. His plan is to rescue Joseph and present him back to Jacob (Genesis 37:22). One possible motivation for Reuben might be seeking to restore himself to his father, after committing a depraved sin with one of his father's wives (Genesis 35:22). This would also be an ironic echo of his own birth, where his mother Leah hoped that bearing Jacob a son would make him love her (Genesis 29:31–32). Reuben might hope that bringing Jacob's favorite son back would restore some of his lost reputation.
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