What does Genesis 37:28 mean?
ESV: Then Midianite traders passed by. And they drew Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. They took Joseph to Egypt.
NIV: So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt.
NASB: Then some Midianite traders passed by, so they pulled him out and lifted Joseph out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. So they brought Joseph into Egypt.
CSB: When Midianite traders passed by, his brothers pulled Joseph out of the pit and sold him for twenty pieces of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took Joseph to Egypt.
NLT: So when the Ishmaelites, who were Midianite traders, came by, Joseph’s brothers pulled him out of the cistern and sold him to them for twenty pieces of silver. And the traders took him to Egypt.
KJV: Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt.
NKJV: Then Midianite traders passed by; so the brothers pulled Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt.
Verse Commentary:
Except for Reuben, who was not present (Genesis 37:22), Joseph's older brothers have agreed to sell him as a slave to the Ishmaelites (Genesis 25:23–27). In this verse, the specific group passing by are referred to "Midianite" traders. Scholars suggest that by this point in history, nomadic tribes in the region were referred to as "Ishmaelites," whether they were specifically descended from Hagar's son (Genesis 25:12) or not. This group of nomads were Midianites, descended from Abraham's concubine Keturah (Genesis 25:1–2).

Joseph is lifted out the pit and handed over to the traders in exchange for 20 shekels of silver. Apparently, this was the going rate for a teenage slave at the time. Joseph's brothers profited from his sale. They assume they have seen the last of Joseph as he is hauled away to Egypt. Instead, God will use their cold-hearted actions to bring Joseph's dreams to reality in the most unexpected of ways (Genesis 42:6; 50:20).
Verse Context:
Genesis 37:12–36 describes how Joseph's wildly resentful brothers finally get rid of him. They hate Joseph for being Jacob's favorite (Genesis 37:3) and for his grandiose dreams (Genesis 37:5, 9). When Joseph arrives alone at the camp of his brothers, very far from home, they have an opportunity. Only Reuben's intervention keeps them from killing Joseph outright. Instead, while Reuben is absent, the brothers sell Joseph to passing slave traders and later convince their father he has been killed by a wild animal. Joseph becomes a slave in an Egyptian home. Genesis 39 will return to Joseph's story.
Chapter Summary:
Joseph, 17, is deeply loved by his father Jacob and deeply resented by his ten older brothers thanks to Jacob's favoritism. Jacob gives Joseph a princely robe, and Joseph reports dreams that predict his family will one day bow before him. When alone with Joseph in the wilderness, the brothers decide to kill him. Reuben stops them, suggesting they throw him alive into a pit, instead. While Reuben is gone, however, the brothers sell Joseph to slave-traders, later convincing their father Joseph has been killed by a wild animal. Joseph is placed in the home of an Egyptian nobleman.
Chapter Context:
Following the death of Isaac and the story of Esau's people, Genesis begins a section called the "generations of Jacob." The story will focus primarily on Jacob's son Joseph. Joseph is deeply hated by his brothers. While alone with him in the wilderness, they sell him to slave-traders, who take Joseph to Egypt. Chapter 38 details some of the scandals which happened while Joseph was gone. Genesis 39 will resume a focus on Joseph's experiences.
Book Summary:
The book of Genesis establishes fundamental truths about God. Among these are His role as the Creator, His holiness, His hatred of sin, His love for mankind, and His willingness to provide for our redemption. We learn not only where mankind has come from, but why the world is in its present form. The book also presents the establishment of Israel, God's chosen people. Many of the principles given in other parts of Scripture depend on the basic ideas presented here in the book of Genesis. Within the framework of the Bible, Genesis explains the bare-bones history of the universe leading up to the captivity of Israel in Egypt, setting the stage for the book of Exodus.
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