Genesis 37:22 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 37:22, NIV: Don't shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the wilderness, but don't lay a hand on him.' Reuben said this to rescue him from them and take him back to his father.

Genesis 37:22, ESV: And Reuben said to them, “Shed no blood; throw him into this pit here in the wilderness, but do not lay a hand on him”—that he might rescue him out of their hand to restore him to his father.

Genesis 37:22, KJV: And Reuben said unto them, Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit that is in the wilderness, and lay no hand upon him; that he might rid him out of their hands, to deliver him to his father again.

Genesis 37:22, NASB: Then Reuben said to them, 'Shed no blood. Throw him into this pit that is in the wilderness, but do not lay a hand on him'—so that later he might rescue him out of their hands, to return him to his father.

Genesis 37:22, NLT: 'Why should we shed any blood? Let's just throw him into this empty cistern here in the wilderness. Then he'll die without our laying a hand on him.' Reuben was secretly planning to rescue Joseph and return him to his father.

Genesis 37:22, CSB: Reuben also said to them, "Don't shed blood. Throw him into this pit in the wilderness, but don't lay a hand on him"--intending to rescue him from them and return him to his father.

What does Genesis 37:22 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The oldest of Joseph's ten brothers is attempting to save Joseph's life from their murderous rage. The rest of his brothers have described a plan to kill Joseph and report that he was eaten by a wild animal (Genesis 37:18–20). Reuben says no (Genesis 37:21). His hope is that by preventing Joseph from being killed outright, he can rescue him and present Jacob's favorite son, safe and sound (Genesis 37:3).

Perhaps Reuben hopes that by saving Joseph, he will regain the favor he lost when he slept with his father's concubine (Genesis 35:22). This would be a poignant echo of his mother's own hopes; Leah had dreamed that by bearing a son to Jacob, she would be loved (Genesis 29:31–32). Or maybe he just wants to do the right thing.

In either case, Reuben urges his brothers to throw Joseph into a dry cistern (Genesis 37:24) without hurting him. His brothers likely believe he is suggesting they leave Joseph in the pit to die in the wilderness. In that way, they can deceptively claim they did not "kill" Joseph. Reuben's real plan is to come back and free Joseph, to return him to their father.