Genesis 50:18 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 50:18, NIV: His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. 'We are your slaves,' they said.

Genesis 50:18, ESV: His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.”

Genesis 50:18, KJV: And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants.

Genesis 50:18, NASB: Then his brothers also came and fell down before him and said, 'Behold, we are your servants.'

Genesis 50:18, NLT: Then his brothers came and threw themselves down before Joseph. 'Look, we are your slaves!' they said.

Genesis 50:18, CSB: His brothers also came to him, bowed down before him, and said, "We are your slaves! "

What does Genesis 50:18 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery when he was a teenager (Genesis 37:26–28; 42:21–22). He unexpectedly became the second most powerful man in Egypt (Genesis 41:44). They reunited during a severe famine, as Joseph had the family resettled in comfort under his own protection (Genesis 47:11–13). Now that their father has died (Genesis 50:1–14), Joseph's brothers fear this has only been because of Jacob (Genesis 50:15). Using the same fawning approach their father often employed (Genesis 32:9–16; 43:11–14), they sent messengers with a message—supposedly from Jacob—asking for Joseph's forgiveness (Genesis 50:16–17).

With that preparation, the brothers arrive in person, throwing themselves down in submission. The same men who once sneered at Joseph for his prophetic dreams (Genesis 37:5–11) now declare exactly what his dreams predicted. They declare themselves his servants and hope he will be merciful. They've taken this posture with Joseph before, but only when they believed he was "only" a powerful Egyptian (Genesis 44:14–16). Now, they do so in fear of well-deserved vengeance.

It's worth noting that Genesis never describes these brothers asking for Joseph's forgiveness. He has offered it (Genesis 45:5–11), but if they ever said something like "we are sorry," the Bible makes no mention of it. If there had never been a moment of overt repentance, it might explain their combination of fear and unresolved guilt. The healing act of confessing wrongdoing and asking forgiveness is an essential step in healing any relationship broken by sin.

Joseph's response to this appeal for mercy is a powerful statement. It not only speaks to his incredible perspective, but it also clearly states that God can even use human wrongdoing to achieve His good purposes (Genesis 50:20).