Genesis 43:18 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 43:18, NIV: "Now the men were frightened when they were taken to his house. They thought, 'We were brought here because of the silver that was put back into our sacks the first time. He wants to attack us and overpower us and seize us as slaves and take our donkeys.'"

Genesis 43:18, ESV: "And the men were afraid because they were brought to Joseph’s house, and they said, “It is because of the money, which was replaced in our sacks the first time, that we are brought in, so that he may assault us and fall upon us to make us servants and seize our donkeys.”"

Genesis 43:18, KJV: "And the men were afraid, because they were brought into Joseph's house; and they said, Because of the money that was returned in our sacks at the first time are we brought in; that he may seek occasion against us, and fall upon us, and take us for bondmen, and our asses."

Genesis 43:18, NASB: "Now the men were afraid, because they were brought to Joseph’s house; and they said, 'It is because of the money that was returned in our sacks the first time that we are being brought in, so that he may attack us and overpower us, and take us as slaves with our donkeys.'"

Genesis 43:18, NLT: "The brothers were terrified when they saw that they were being taken into Joseph's house. 'It's because of the money someone put in our sacks last time we were here,' they said. 'He plans to pretend that we stole it. Then he will seize us, make us slaves, and take our donkeys.'"

Genesis 43:18, CSB: "But the men were afraid because they were taken to Joseph's house. They said, "We have been brought here because of the silver that was returned in our bags the first time. They intend to overpower us, seize us, make us slaves, and take our donkeys.""

What does Genesis 43:18 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Joseph's ten brothers are left to guess why this Egyptian ruler would order them all to be brought to his own home. After all, the last time they interacted with him, they were accused of being spies and were thrown in jail. Why would he now welcome them as guests? They still haven't realized this man is their own estranged brother (Genesis 42:8).

Their fear is that this must be a plan to punish them—as they went home from the last trip, they discovered the money they'd paid for grain back in their bags (Genesis 42:26–28) for seeming to steal back the money they used to purchase grain on their previous visit. They did not steal it, of course. Joseph had it secretly returned to their sacks, along with the grain (Genesis 42:25). They have been fearful ever since discovering it that they were being set up to be accused of stealing. Now they assume the Egyptians will attack, enslave them, and steal all they have.

That the brothers fear being made "servants" is poetic justice: they are likely still associating their crime against their brother, Joseph, with what is happening to them now (Genesis 42:21–22). They seem worried God is finally punishing them for attacking Joseph all those years ago and selling him into slavery (Genesis 37:25–28).