Genesis 44:34

ESV For how can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? I fear to see the evil that would find my father.”
NIV How can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? No! Do not let me see the misery that would come on my father.'
NASB For how shall I go up to my father if the boy is not with me? I fear that I may see the evil that would overtake my father.'
CSB For how can I go back to my father without the boy? I could not bear to see the grief that would overwhelm my father."
NLT For how can I return to my father if the boy is not with me? I couldn’t bear to see the anguish this would cause my father!'
KJV For how shall I go up to my father, and the lad be not with me? lest peradventure I see the evil that shall come on my father.

What does Genesis 44:34 mean?

Twenty years after being sold as a slave by his jealous older brothers (Genesis 37:24–28), Joseph is the governor of all Egypt (Genesis 41:44). Through a combination of God's intervention and his own schemes (Genesis 44:1–6), Joseph has had the opportunity to test his estranged brothers. They do not recognize him (Genesis 42:7–8), and he has put them in a difficult position. Will they once again abandon a younger brother, out of selfishness (Genesis 44:17)? Or have they become better men than they once were?

At the end of his dramatic plea (Genesis 44:18–33), Judah made a selfless proposal. He has begged to be kept as a slave, so the boy and his other brothers can go home. It's crucial to remember that Judah still does not know this powerful Egyptian ruler is his own brother, Joseph. He only knows he is pledged to keep young Benjamin safe. He also knows he could not face his father if he returned without the boy. Not only would he feel ashamed, but he also knows what harm it would do to Jacob. Instead, Judah wishes to save both by taking Benjamin's punishment on himself.

Judah suggests the swap knowing that Benjamin is not even guilty of the crime of which he is being accused. It doesn't matter. He must protect his brother. What an enormous change from the day he willingly participated in selling Joseph into slavery, knowing how deeply it would hurt his father, Jacob!

Joseph has now seen his brothers after years of separation (Genesis 42:7), been reunited with his youngest brother (Genesis 43:29–30), and heard of his older brothers' remorse for their crimes (Genesis 42:21–23). This offer from Judah finally overcomes Joseph's self-control; his emotions will pour out as he reveals his identity (Genesis 45:1–3).
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