Genesis 42:19 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 42:19, NIV: If you are honest men, let one of your brothers stay here in prison, while the rest of you go and take grain back for your starving households.

Genesis 42:19, ESV: if you are honest men, let one of your brothers remain confined where you are in custody, and let the rest go and carry grain for the famine of your households,

Genesis 42:19, KJV: If ye be true men, let one of your brethren be bound in the house of your prison: go ye, carry corn for the famine of your houses:

Genesis 42:19, NASB: if you are honest men, let one of your brothers be confined in your prison; but as for the rest of you, go, carry grain for the famine of your households,

Genesis 42:19, NLT: If you really are honest men, choose one of your brothers to remain in prison. The rest of you may go home with grain for your starving families.

Genesis 42:19, CSB: If you are honest, let one of you be confined to the guardhouse, while the rest of you go and take grain to relieve the hunger of your households.

What does Genesis 42:19 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Joseph (Genesis 37:28) has revealed to his ten half-brothers that he will allow them to live if they do as he says. They still don't know him as anyone other than a harsh Egyptian official (Genesis 42:1–7). Joseph now tells them to prove their honesty by leaving just one of them behind while the rest travel back to Canaan to return with their youngest brother. If they come back with the younger brother, it proves they were honest, and they will be free.

The intent here seems to be a combination of a test, a rebuke for their betrayal, and a means to bring more of the family to Egypt (Genesis 47:11–12). Still, Joseph insists the returning nine take grain with them to feed their people. Perhaps awareness that his extended family in Canaan may already be starving motivated Joseph to change his plan. Formerly, he had insisted that nine of them stay behind while one goes to fetch the youngest brother (Genesis 42:8–17). Now he reverses that and instructs most of them to leave after paying for their grain.