Genesis 42:20 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 42:20, NIV: But you must bring your youngest brother to me, so that your words may be verified and that you may not die.' This they proceeded to do.

Genesis 42:20, ESV: and bring your youngest brother to me. So your words will be verified, and you shall not die.” And they did so.

Genesis 42:20, KJV: But bring your youngest brother unto me; so shall your words be verified, and ye shall not die. And they did so.

Genesis 42:20, NASB: and bring your youngest brother to me, so that your words may be verified, and you will not die.' And they did so.

Genesis 42:20, NLT: But you must bring your youngest brother back to me. This will prove that you are telling the truth, and you will not die.' To this they agreed.

Genesis 42:20, CSB: Bring your youngest brother to me so that your words can be confirmed; then you won't die." And they consented to this.

What does Genesis 42:20 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Joseph was sold into slavery by his own brothers (Genesis 37:28), only to rise to power as the governor of all Egypt (Genesis 41:44). During the famine predicted by Pharaoh's dreams (Genesis 41:28–32), Joseph's brothers have come to buy grain (Genesis 42:1–5). They don't recognize Joseph, who speaks harshly to them, partly to maintain the secret (Genesis 42:6–17). After holding them for three days, he has told his ten older half-brothers that he will allow them to live if they do as he says. Nine of them must travel back to Canaan with food for their families. One must stay behind as a kind of collateral (Genesis 42:18–19).

In the moment, Joseph's actions seem vindictive. Later verses, however, show the compassion he has for his family, despite their betrayal. This is a way for Joseph to test his brothers, while giving them a well-deserved rebuke, and to secure his family against starvation (Genesis 47:11–12).

Now Joseph gets to the one point on which he insists: They must return with the youngest brother to prove they have told the truth. If they come back without the boy, he will have them killed. If they never come back, it will mean abandoning their brother forever. The brothers agree to this immediately, but a difficult discussion about the plan will follow.