Genesis 43:7 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 43:7, NIV: They replied, 'The man questioned us closely about ourselves and our family. 'Is your father still living?' he asked us. 'Do you have another brother?' We simply answered his questions. How were we to know he would say, 'Bring your brother down here'?'

Genesis 43:7, ESV: They replied, “The man questioned us carefully about ourselves and our kindred, saying, ‘Is your father still alive? Do you have another brother?’ What we told him was in answer to these questions. Could we in any way know that he would say, ‘Bring your brother down’?”

Genesis 43:7, KJV: And they said, The man asked us straitly of our state, and of our kindred, saying, Is your father yet alive? have ye another brother? and we told him according to the tenor of these words: could we certainly know that he would say, Bring your brother down?

Genesis 43:7, NASB: But they said, 'The man specifically asked about us and our relatives, saying, ‘Is your father still alive? Have you another brother?’ So we answered his questions. Could we possibly know that he would say, ‘Bring your brother down’?'

Genesis 43:7, NLT: 'The man kept asking us questions about our family,' they replied. 'He asked, 'Is your father still alive? Do you have another brother?' So we answered his questions. How could we know he would say, 'Bring your brother down here'?'

Genesis 43:7, CSB: They answered, "The man kept asking about us and our family: 'Is your father still alive? Do you have another brother? ' And we answered him accordingly. How could we know that he would say, 'Bring your brother here'? "

What does Genesis 43:7 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Judah and his brothers are defending themselves to their father Jacob. Jacob is blaming them for the choice in front of him: Allow his family to starve to death or send his beloved youngest son into hostile Egypt and risk losing him. The first time he sent his ten oldest sons to buy food (Genesis 42:1–2), they returned with one brother left as a captive and orders from the governor not to come back without their youngest brother, Benjamin (Genesis 42:19–20, 24). As the famine rages on (Genesis 43:1–2), he again wants them to purchase Egyptian grain. When Judah reminds that they will be jailed or killed if they don't bring Benjamin (Genesis 43:3–6), Jacob responds with bitterness and accusation (Genesis 43:6).

This is probably not the first time Jacob has made this criticism. He's upset the older brothers would even mention Benjamin to the Egyptians. Their defense, however, makes sense. The Egyptian ruler asked them directly about their family. What they claim here may or may not be literally true, however. In the earlier description of their encounter with the governor, he did not directly ask about Jacob or Benjamin—they seem to have volunteered those facts (Genesis 42:10–11). Scripture does not often record word-for-word transcripts of conversations, however, so their statement might have been in response to a question from the Egyptian governor.

The greater point is that they had no reason to lie to the Egyptians. How could they have suspected they'd be commanded to bring that brother back with them? The Egyptian ruler accused them of being spies. They rightly feared for their lives. They were desperately trying to prove their innocence as honest men. Why would they lie about facts that seemed so inconsequential?

What none of the men know is that this seemingly-irrational Egyptian governor was their long-lost brother, Joseph (Genesis 37:24–28; 42:8).