Genesis 42:37 MEANING

Genesis 42:37
(37) Slay my two sons.--Reuben does not suppose that Jacob would really put his grandchildren to death. but simply means to offer his father a strong assurance that Benjamin would run no danger. He regarded the risk as so slight that he was willing to stake the lives of two of his children, perhaps all he then had, upon Benjamin's safe return. To take such a proposal as meant literally is irrational. But it was but feeble talk, in agreement with the general weakness of Reuben's character.

Verse 37. - And Reuben spake unto his father, saying (Reuben was probably actuated by an ardent brotherly affection, which prompted him to endeavor to recover Simeon, as formerly he had sought to deliver Joseph), Slay my two sons - as Reuben had four sons (Genesis 46:9), he first be understood as meaning two of my sons (Ainsworth, Murphy), either the two then present (Junius) or the two oldest (Mercerus) - if I bring him (i.e. Benjamin) not to thee. Reuben's proposal, though in one sense "the greatest and dearest offer that a son could make to a father" (Keil), was either only a sample of strong rhetoric (like Joseph's "By the life of Pharaoh!") designed to assure his father of the impossibility of failure (Lawson, Candlish, Inglis), and of the fact that neither he nor his brethren entertained any injurious designs against Benjamin (Calvin); or, if seriously made, was not only inconsiderate and rash, spoken in the heat of the moment (Kurtz), but sinful and unnatural (Ainsworth), plusquam barbarura (Calvin), and absolutely worthless besides, as what consolation would it be to Jacob to add to the loss of a son the murder of his grandchildren? (Calvin, Willet). Deliver him into my hand, and I will bring him to thee again. Reuben might have learned to avoid strong asseverations on this point. "It was his wish to bring Joseph home to his father, and yet he could not persuade his brethren to comply with his intentions. It was his desire to bring Simeon safe to his father, and yet he was compelled to leave him in Egypt" (Lawson).

42:29-38 Here is the report Jacob's sons made to their father. It troubled the good man. Even the bundles of money Joseph returned, in kindness, to his father, frightened him. He laid the fault upon his sons; knowing them, he feared they had provoked the Egyptians, and wrongfully brought home their money. Jacob plainly distrusted his sons, remembering that he never saw Joseph since he had been with them. It is bad with a family, when children behave so ill that their parents know not how to trust them. Jacob gives up Joseph for gone, and Simeon and Benjamin as in danger; and concludes, All these things are against me. It proved otherwise, that all these things were for him, were working together for his good, and the good of his family. We often think that to be against us, which is really for us. We are afflicted in body, estate, name, and in our relations; and think all these things are against us, whereas they are really working for us a weight of glory. Thus does the Lord Jesus conceal himself and his favour, thus he rebukes and chastens those for whom he has purposes of love. By sharp corrections and humbling convictions he will break the stoutness and mar the pride of the heart, and bring to true repentance. Yet before sinners fully know him, or taste that he is gracious, he consults their good, and sustains their souls, to wait for him. May we do thus, never yielding to discouragement, determining to seek no other refuge, and humbling ourselves more and more under his mighty hand. In due time he will answer our petitions, and do for us more than we can expect.And Reuben spoke unto his father,.... Being the eldest son, it most property lay upon him to make answer to his father in the name of his brethren, and to offer a word of comfort to him:

saying, slay my two sons, if I bring him not to thee; meaning not Simeon, who was in Egypt, but Benjamin, whom it was proposed to take thither, and whom Jacob was very loath to part with; and to persuade him to it Reuben offers to him, and gives him leave to slay his two sons, or rather two of his sons (g), since he had four, Genesis 46:9; if he did not bring Benjamin again to him: this was a strange proposal, for what were two sons of his to his own son, so exceedingly beloved by him? besides, to lose his own son, and to have two of his grandchildren slain, would have been an increase of his sorrow and grief, instead of being an alleviation of it; but Reuben's meaning was, not that his children should be slain, but this he says, to show that he would be as careful and solicitous for the return of Benjamin as if the life of two sons of his lay at stake, and was so confident of it that he could risk the life of them upon it, who were as dear to him as one Benjamin was to his father:

deliver him into my hand, and I will bring him to thee again; he undertook to be responsible for him.

(g) "duos filiorum meorum", Piscator; so Ainsworth.

Courtesy of Open Bible