Genesis 37:24 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 37:24, NIV: and they took him and threw him into the cistern. The cistern was empty; there was no water in it.

Genesis 37:24, ESV: And they took him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it.

Genesis 37:24, KJV: And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it.

Genesis 37:24, NASB: and they took him and threw him into the pit. Now the pit was empty, without any water in it.

Genesis 37:24, NLT: Then they grabbed him and threw him into the cistern. Now the cistern was empty; there was no water in it.

Genesis 37:24, CSB: Then they took him and threw him into the pit. The pit was empty, without water.

What does Genesis 37:24 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Apparently, Reuben's influence as the oldest carried weight with his brothers. They had planned to kill Joseph outright (Genesis 37:18). Reuben had urged them to simply throw their younger brother, just 17, into a nearby pit without harming him. The idea the other brothers took from that was to leave Joseph in the pit to die in the wilderness. This would have allowed them a perverse—and dishonest—claim that they didn't "kill" their brother, and that his fate was not their responsibility. In reality, Reuben planned to return to get Joseph out and return him safely to Jacob (Genesis 37:21–22).

The pit in question was a cistern used for holding water, but it was dry. This made it a perfect place to stash Joseph for as long as they needed to. The same Hebrew term used to describe a pit or cistern is also used to depict a dungeon: Joseph is being tossed into a hole in the ground.