What does Genesis 37:33 mean?
ESV: And he identified it and said, “It is my son’s robe. A fierce animal has devoured him. Joseph is without doubt torn to pieces.”
NIV: He recognized it and said, 'It is my son's robe! Some ferocious animal has devoured him. Joseph has surely been torn to pieces.'
NASB: Then he examined it and said, 'It is my son’s tunic. A vicious animal has devoured him; Joseph has surely been torn to pieces!'
CSB: His father recognized it. "It is my son's robe," he said. "A vicious animal has devoured him. Joseph has been torn to pieces! "
NLT: Their father recognized it immediately. 'Yes,' he said, 'it is my son’s robe. A wild animal must have eaten him. Joseph has clearly been torn to pieces!'
KJV: And he knew it, and said, It is my son's coat; an evil beast hath devoured him; Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces.
NKJV: And he recognized it and said, “ It is my son’s tunic. A wild beast has devoured him. Without doubt Joseph is torn to pieces.”
Verse Commentary:
Jacob's 10 oldest sons have returned with their flocks from the north (Genesis 37:12). Joseph has not (Genesis 37:18–30). Instead, the brothers bring Joseph's blood-covered robe, the one specially given to him by Jacob (Genesis 37:3–4). Of course, this is a trick meant to disguise their own betrayal (Genesis 37:31–32). They cruelly asked their father to identify it.

Jacob affirms that the robe is Joseph's. He reaches exactly the conclusion they were hoping he would: that a wild animal has eaten Joseph. It's a skillful lie that requires no telling. Jacob is convinced that his favorite son, the firstborn of his beloved late wife Rachel (Genesis 30:22–24), has died at 17. His grieving will be intense, and, so it seems, permanent (Genesis 37:34–35). The depths of Jacob's pain are such that the mastermind of this plot, Judah, will one day offer himself as a substitute for his brother, Benjamin, to keep his father from another such experience (Genesis 44:18, 30–34).
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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