Genesis 42:37 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 42:37, NIV: "Then Reuben said to his father, 'You may put both of my sons to death if I do not bring him back to you. Entrust him to my care, and I will bring him back.'"

Genesis 42:37, ESV: "Then Reuben said to his father, “Kill my two sons if I do not bring him back to you. Put him in my hands, and I will bring him back to you.”"

Genesis 42:37, KJV: "And Reuben spake unto his father, saying, Slay my two sons, if I bring him not to thee: deliver him into my hand, and I will bring him to thee again."

Genesis 42:37, NASB: "Then Reuben spoke to his father, saying, 'You may put my two sons to death if I do not bring him back to you; put him in my care, and I will return him to you.'"

Genesis 42:37, NLT: "Then Reuben said to his father, 'You may kill my two sons if I don't bring Benjamin back to you. I'll be responsible for him, and I promise to bring him back.'"

Genesis 42:37, CSB: "Then Reuben said to his father, "You can kill my two sons if I don't bring him back to you. Put him in my care, and I will return him to you.""

What does Genesis 42:37 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Jacob has responded to news that one of his sons, Simeon, is held prisoner. His response is bitter, angrily accusing these nine for his loss of both Joseph (Genesis 37:28–33) and Simeon (Genesis 42:36). As we will see later, Jacob has no intention of risking Benjamin, even if that means abandoning Simeon to his fate (Genesis 42:38).

Reuben, the oldest son, responds with a grand gesture. He begs his father to trust him with Benjamin's life. He offers to allow Jacob to kill his own two sons—a parallel with the two Jacob feels he has lost—if he fails to bring Benjamin back. This likely reflects his own guilt about lying to Jacob about Joseph's death all those years earlier. His vow is not necessarily meant to be literal, but more likely an oath showing how serious he is.

And yet, this follows a pattern where Reuben tries to atone for sleeping with his father's concubine (Genesis 35:22). It was Reuben who kept the others from killing Joseph outright (Genesis 37:22), planning to rescue him later. Reuben is the one who recognized the brothers' collective guilt when Simeon was taken (Genesis 42:21–22). This, again, is a bold attempt to prove himself to the family.