And Reuben said to them, Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit that is in the wilderness, and lay no hand on him; that he might rid him out of their hands, to deliver him to his father again.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Into this pit that is in the wilderness.—Reuben apparently pointed to some cistern in the desolate region which girds the little valley of Dothan around. We learn from Genesis 42:21 that Joseph begged hard for mercy, and to be spared so painful a death, but that his brothers would not hear.
Though never represented in the Scriptures as a type of Christ, yet the whole of the Old Testament is so full of events and histories, which reappear in the Gospel narrative, that the Fathers have never hesitated in regarding Joseph, the innocent delivered to death, but raised thence to glory, as especially typifying to us our Lord. Pascal (Pensées, 2:9. 2) sums up the points of resemblance—in his father’s love for him, his being sent to see after the peace of his brethren, their conspiring against him, his being sold for twenty pieces of silver, his rising from his humiliation to be the lord and saviour of those who had wronged him; and with them the saviour also of the world. As too, he was in prison with two malefactors, so was our Lord crucified between two thieves and as one of these was saved and one left to his condemnation, so Joseph gave deliverance to the chief butler, but to the chief baker punishment. It would be easy to point out other resemblances, but, leaving these, it is important also to notice that Joseph’s history is likewise a vindication of God’s providential dealings with men. He is innocent, and pure in life, but wronged again and again; yet every wrong was but a step in the pathway of his exaltation. And like the histories of all great lives, Joseph’s adventures do not begin and end in himself. Upon him depended a great future. Noble minds care little for personal suffering, if from their pain springs amelioration for the world. Now Joseph’s descent into Egypt was: not only for the good and preservation of the people there, but was also an essential condition for the formation of the Jewish Church. In Egypt alone could Israel have multiplied into a nation fit to be the depositaries of God’s law, and to grow into a church of prophets.Genesis 9:6,
but cast him into this pit that is in the wilderness, and lay no hand upon him: which might seem to answer the same purpose, namely, by depriving him of his life in another way, by starving him; but this was not Reuben's intention, as appears by the next clause, and by his going to the pit afterwards, as it should seem, with a view to take him out of it privately; this advice he gave:And Reuben said unto them, Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit that is in the wilderness, and lay no hand upon him; that he might rid him out of their hands, to deliver him to his father again.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)22. And Reuben said] This and the next two verses are from E. Reuben, the eldest, interposes to save his brother’s life; cf. Genesis 42:37.
Shed no blood] Reuben’s warning is that there should be no bloodshed, as if murder without bloodshed would be a less evil. His proposal is that Joseph should be thrown into a cistern or tank, which they knew of hard by, and that he should be left there to perish, Reuben intending himself to deliver him. Reuben is not brave enough to oppose his brothers; but hopes to outwit them. He appeals to the horror of bloodshed. Blood cries out against the murderer: see note on Genesis 4:11.
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