Genesis 42:4 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 42:4, NIV: But Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph's brother, with the others, because he was afraid that harm might come to him.

Genesis 42:4, ESV: But Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, with his brothers, for he feared that harm might happen to him.

Genesis 42:4, KJV: But Benjamin, Joseph's brother, Jacob sent not with his brethren; for he said, Lest peradventure mischief befall him.

Genesis 42:4, NASB: But Jacob did not send Joseph’s brother Benjamin with his brothers, for he said, 'I am afraid that harm may happen to him.'

Genesis 42:4, NLT: But Jacob wouldn't let Joseph's younger brother, Benjamin, go with them, for fear some harm might come to him.

Genesis 42:4, CSB: But Jacob did not send Joseph's brother Benjamin with his brothers, for he thought, "Something might happen to him."

What does Genesis 42:4 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

A famine has gripped the world. Like so many others, Jacob's large family (Genesis 35:23–26; 37:1) would face starvation if they can not find food. News has reached them that grain can be purchased in Egypt (Genesis 41:53–54). Impatient at their lack of action, Jacob sends his ten oldest sons to buy what they can (Genesis 42:1–3).

However, Jacob does not send his youngest son Benjamin. Benjamin and Joseph were the only sons of Jacob's beloved late wife Rachel (Genesis 35:16–19). Thanks to a jealous lie, Jacob believes his son Joseph is dead (Genesis 37:31–34), when in truth he was sold by his ten older brothers (Genesis 37:28). It is those same ten brothers who are about to enter Egypt to buy food—not knowing that the man they need to see is their own lost brother (Genesis 41:46, 53–54).

Even in his old age, we recognize the patterns of Jacob's life. Jacob has already lost both Rachel and Joseph. He lives in fear of harm coming to Benjamin, as well. His decisions are still driven by anxiety. He still gives preferential treatment to Rachel and her children, over his other wives and their sons (Genesis 37:3–4).