What does Genesis 44:26 mean?
ESV: we said, ‘We cannot go down. If our youngest brother goes with us, then we will go down. For we cannot see the man’s face unless our youngest brother is with us.’
NIV: But we said, 'We cannot go down. Only if our youngest brother is with us will we go. We cannot see the man's face unless our youngest brother is with us.'
NASB: But we said, ‘We cannot go down. If our youngest brother is with us, then we will go down; for we cannot see the man’s face unless our youngest brother is with us.’
CSB: We told him, 'We cannot go down unless our younger brother goes with us. If our younger brother isn't with us, we cannot see the man.'
NLT: we replied, ‘We can’t go unless you let our youngest brother go with us. We’ll never get to see the man’s face unless our youngest brother is with us.’
KJV: And we said, We cannot go down: if our youngest brother be with us, then will we go down: for we may not see the man's face, except our youngest brother be with us.
NKJV: But we said, ‘We cannot go down; if our youngest brother is with us, then we will go down; for we may not see the man’s face unless our youngest brother is with us.’
Verse Commentary:
An Egyptian ruler listens to an impassioned plea from one of Jacob's sons (Genesis 44:18–25). Judah is attempting to convince the man not to keep Jacob's youngest son, Benjamin, as a slave (Genesis 44:14–17). He doesn't realize the man to whom he begs is also a son of Jacob: this is Joseph (Genesis 42:7–8), the same brother sold by Judah and the other ten older brothers (Genesis 37:24–28). Judah has just reported that they returned to Canaan and told their father, an old man, what the Egyptian ruler said about not being able to buy grain again unless they brought their brother Benjamin.

Judah has respectfully referred to his father as the ruler's servant. He notes that when Jacob asked them to return to buy more grain in Egypt, the brothers had to remind him they could not do so if they didn't bring his beloved Benjamin (Genesis 42:19–20; 43:3–5).
Verse Context:
Genesis 44:14–34 explains how Joseph's brothers reacted to another test of character. The youngest, Benjamin, was discovered to have Joseph's own silver cup in his bags. This was secretly put there on Joseph's orders—and the brothers still do not know his identity. Joseph's intent seems to be a test of his brothers' growth: are they still as cruel and selfish as when they sold Joseph, himself, into Egyptian slavery? Benjamin's sentence is to become Joseph's slave while the rest are free to go. Instead, Judah offers to take Benjamin's place in order save his youngest brother and their old father, who will surely die of grief if Benjamin is lost.
Chapter Summary:
Eleven of Jacob's sons enjoyed a meal as honored guests of an Egyptian governor. They are sent off the next morning with full sacks of grain. All seems well until the governor's house steward overtakes them on the road and accuses them of stealing the ruler's personal and valuable silver cup. The brothers don't know this governor is Joseph, their long-lost brother. Nor do they know he ordered the steward to place the cup in Benjamin's sack. This is part of Joseph's final test of his brothers and their moral growth. Seeking to rescue Benjamin from slavery, Judah makes a powerful speech to Joseph, offering to take Benjamin's place as a slave to save the boy and avoid grieving their father, Jacob.
Chapter Context:
Joseph maintained his hidden identity when his estranged brothers first arrived in Egypt (Genesis 42). When they returned a second time, he continued to test them and treated them to a fine meal (Genesis 43). Genesis 44 describes Joseph's final scheme to test the character of his brothers. Will they once again abandon a sibling into slavery? After a successful scheme by Joseph, Benjamin seems doomed to become a slave in Egypt. Judah boldly begs Joseph to keep him, instead. He offers himself in Benjamin's place. This finally overwhelms Joseph, who will break down and reveal himself in the next chapter.
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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