What does Genesis 43:4 mean?
ESV: If you will send our brother with us, we will go down and buy you food.
NIV: If you will send our brother along with us, we will go down and buy food for you.
NASB: If you send our brother with us, we will go down and buy you food.
CSB: If you will send our brother with us, we will go down and buy food for you.
NLT: If you send Benjamin with us, we will go down and buy more food.
KJV: If thou wilt send our brother with us, we will go down and buy thee food:
NKJV: If you send our brother with us, we will go down and buy you food.
Verse Commentary:
Earlier, an intense famine forced Jacob to send his sons into Egypt to buy food (Genesis 42:1–2). The governor accused them of being spies and insisted they return with their youngest brother to prove their honesty (Genesis 42:19–20). He also kept one of the brothers in custody as collateral (Genesis 42:24). Jacob's sons don't realize this governor is their own brother, Joseph (Genesis 42:8), whom they sold into slavery as a teenager (Genesis 37:24–28).

When the brothers returned, Jacob forbade them from going back with Benjamin (Genesis 42:38). Even if it meant abandoning Simeon, he would not risk his favorite and youngest son. But the famine continued, and Jacob has asked his sons to travel once again to buy food in Egypt (Genesis 43:1–2). He didn't mention Benjamin, however, and Judah is reminding him of the situation (Genesis 43:3).

Now Judah takes a reasonable and brave stand. He insists they will go, but only if they take Benjamin. He realizes that trying to accomplish the mission without Benjamin will only get them all killed or imprisoned. Their only chance of success is to follow the Egyptian governor—secretly their well-meaning brother Joseph—and hope for the best. Not going at all means starving; Judah is confronting Jacob with the dire choice which must be made (Genesis 43:5).
Verse Context:
Genesis 43:1–15 describes how Jacob is forced to send his beloved son, Benjamin, to accompany his other sons to Egypt to buy more grain. If Benjamin doesn't go, they will not be allowed to purchase anything. This is by the order of the Egyptian governor, who the men do not realize is their long-lost brother, Joseph. Without grain, the family will starve. Jacob agrees, sending with his sons a gift for the man, along with double the amount of money needed to buy the grain. Finally, Jacob prays to God Almighty for his boys before allowing them to depart with his precious youngest son.
Chapter Summary:
Jacob must send Benjamin with his brothers, back to Egypt, to buy more grain for the family. Without it, they will starve, but the Egyptian ruler will not sell them grain if they don't bring Benjamin as agreed. Speaking on behalf of his brothers, Judah finally convinces his father. Arriving in Egypt, they are honored as guests in Joseph's house. They present a gift to him—still not recognizing him as their estranged brother—and Joseph, after being overwhelmed with emotion, pays special attention to Benjamin.
Chapter Context:
In Genesis chapter 37, Jacob sends his favorite son, Joseph, to visit his brothers. Joseph does not come home. In chapter 42, Jacob sends ten of his sons on a mission, and once again the group returns short one son. The Egyptian governor keeps Simeon as collateral and commands the family to return with Benjamin. Only when forced with starvation does Jacob risk his youngest son. Joseph, still unrecognized by his brothers as the governor of Egypt, honors the men as guests in his home, paying special attention to Benjamin. After further tests in chapter 44, Joseph will finally reveal himself in chapter 45.
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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