Genesis 37:21
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.37:12-22 How readily does Joseph wait his father's orders! Those children who are best beloved by their parents, should be the most ready to obey them. See how deliberate Joseph's brethren were against him. They thought to slay him from malice aforethought, and in cold blood. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer, 1Jo 3:15. The sons of Jacob hated their brother because their father loved him. New occasions, as his dreams and the like, drew them on further; but this laid rankling in their hearts, till they resolved on his death. God has all hearts in his hands. Reuben had most reason to be jealous of Joseph, for he was the first-born; yet he proves his best friend. God overruled all to serve his own purpose, of making Joseph an instrument to save much people alive. Joseph was a type of Christ; for 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 in great humility and love. He came from heaven to earth to seek and save us; yet then malicious plots were laid against him. His own not only received him not, but crucified him. This he submitted to, as a part of his design to redeem and save us.His brothers cast him into a pit. "This master of dreams;" an eastern phrase for a dreamer. "Let us slay him." They had a foreboding that his dreams might prove true, and that he would become their arbitrary master. This thought at all events would abate somewhat of the barbarity of their designs. It is implied in the closing sentence of their proposal. Reuben dissuades them from the act of murder, and advises merely to cast him into the pit, to which they consent. He had a more tender heart, and perhaps a more tender conscience than the rest, and intended to send Joseph back safe to his father. He doubtless took care to choose a pit that was without water.19. Behold, this dreamer cometh—literally, "master of dreams"—a bitterly ironical sneer. Dreams being considered suggestions from above, to make false pretensions to having received one was detested as a species of blasphemy, and in this light Joseph was regarded by his brethren as an artful pretender. They already began to form a plot for Joseph's assassination, from which he was rescued only by the address of Reuben, who suggested that he should rather be cast into one of the wells, which are, and probably were, completely dried up in summer. He

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 Reuben heard it,.... Overheard what they said, not being in the consultation; perhaps knowing his temper and disposition to be more mild and gentle, and being the elder brother, might fear he would overrule matters against them, and therefore Simeon and Levi did not choose to have him in the debate; or he might be at some distance and entirely absent when the consultation was held, and their intention was reported to him by some of them:

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.

(t) "ne percutiamus vel occidamus animam", Sam. Ar. Syr.

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. In a short time the hatred of Joseph's brethren grew into a crime. On one occasion, when they were feeding their flock at a distance from Hebron, in the neighbourhood of Shechem (Nablus, in the plain of Mukhnah), and Joseph who was sent thither by Jacob to inquire as to the welfare (shalom, valetudo) of the brethren and their flocks, followed them to Dothain or Dothan, a place 12 Roman miles to the north of Samaria (Sebaste), towards the plain of Jezreel, they formed the malicious resolution to put him, "this dreamer," to death, and throw him into one of the pits, i.e., cisterns, and then to tell (his father) that a wild beast had slain him, and so to bring his dreams to nought.
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