And Reuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands; and said, Let us not kill him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Genesis 37:21. Reuben heard it — God can raise up friends for his people, even among their enemies. Reuben, of all the brothers, had most reason to be jealous of Joseph; for he was the firstborn, and so entitled to those distinguishing favours which Jacob was conferring on Joseph; yet he proves his best friend. Reuben’s temper seems to have been soft and effeminate, which had betrayed him into the sin of uncleanness; while the temper of the two next brothers, Simeon and Levi, was fierce, which betrayed them into the sin of murder, a sin which Reuben startled at the thought of. He made a proposal which they thought would effectually destroy Joseph, and yet which he designed should answer his intention of rescuing him out of their hands, probably hoping thereby to recover his father’s favour, which he had lately lost; but God overruled all to serve his own purpose of making Joseph an instrument to save much people alive. Joseph was here a type of Christ. Though he was the beloved Son of his Father, and hated by a wicked world, yet the Father sent him out of his bosom to visit us; he came from heaven to earth to seek and save us; yet then malicious plots were laid against him; he came to his own, and his own not only received him not, but consulted, This is the heir, come, let us kill him. This he submitted to, in pursuance of his design to save us.
delivered him, as to the violent and certain despatch of his life which was intended. Or the act is here put for the purpose and endeavour of doing it, in which sense Balak is said to fight against Israel, Joshua 24:9, and Abraham to offer up Isaac, Hebrews 11:17. So here, he delivered him, i.e. used his utmost power to deliver him, that so he might recover his father’s favour lost by his incestuous action.
and he delivered him out of their hands; from slaying him; that is, he endeavoured to do it by proposing another scheme:
and said, let us not kill him; or let us not smite the soul (t); the dear soul, or take away life.And Reuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands; and said, Let us not kill him.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)21. Reuben] Reuben’s name is probably here substituted by the Compiler (R) for that of Judah. Reuben speaks in Genesis 37:22; and it is unlikely that two consecutive clauses would begin with Reuben speaking. Probably this verse comes from J, and is carried on in Genesis 37:26-27, with Judah’s attempt to rescue Joseph.Verses 21, 22. - And Reuben (the eldest son, and therefore probably regarding himself as in some degree responsible for Joseph's safety) heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands; and said, Let us not kill him - literally, Let us not destroy his life (nephesh). And Reuben said (further) unto them, Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit that is in the wilderness (i.e. into a dry pit that was near), and lay no hand upon him; that (the adverb indicates the purpose Reuben had in view) he might rid him (translated above deliver him) out of their hands, to deliver him (or, more correctly, to return him) to his father again.
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