Genesis 42:11 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 42:11, NIV: We are all the sons of one man. Your servants are honest men, not spies.'

Genesis 42:11, ESV: We are all sons of one man. We are honest men. Your servants have never been spies.”

Genesis 42:11, KJV: We are all one man's sons; we are true men, thy servants are no spies.

Genesis 42:11, NASB: We are all sons of one man; we are honest men, your servants are not spies.'

Genesis 42:11, NLT: We are all brothers--members of the same family. We are honest men, sir! We are not spies!'

Genesis 42:11, CSB: "We are all sons of one man. We are honest; your servants are not spies."

What does Genesis 42:11 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Joseph has accused his ten older brothers of being spies. He declares that they have come to Egypt to spy for a foreign power. They are trying to defend themselves, insisting they have come only to buy food in the famine (Genesis 42:6–10). Their language is the common style of that era: politely referring to themselves as the servants of the other. The situation is unique, however, in that Joseph alone has the power to act on that accusation (Genesis 41:44). The brothers do not realize that the Egyptian governor, whom they know as Zaphenath-paneah (Genesis 41:45), is the brother they sold into slavery twenty years ago (Genesis 37:28). Joseph's intent is not revenge, but to test his family; the end goal is to bring them all safely into Egypt (Genesis 47:11–12).

Since the ten men (Genesis 41:1–5) don't know this is their brother, they reveal another detail: They are all sons of the same man (Genesis 35:23–26). Joseph knows this, of course, but it is information he can use to learn more about them. They conclude by declaring that they are honest men who have never been spies. This might have been another reason for Joseph's harsh approach: coercing his brothers to give him more longed-for information about his family.