Genesis 37:28

28 Then 1Midianite traders passed by. And they drew Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and 2sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels[a] of silver. They took Joseph to Egypt.

Genesis 37:28 Meaning and Commentary

Genesis 37:28

Then there passed by Midianites, merchantmen
The same with the Ishmaelites before mentioned, as appears from the latter part of this verse; for as these were near neighbours, so they might join together in merchandise, and travel in company for greater safety, and are sometimes called the one, and sometimes the other, as well as they might mix together in their habitations and marriages; and are hence called Arabians by the Targums, as before observed, and so by Josephus, which signifies a mixed people:

and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit:
not the Midianites, but his brethren:

and sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty [pieces] of silver;
for twenty shekels, which amounted to twenty five shillings of our money. The Jews F26 say, they each took two shekels apiece, and bought with them a pair of shoes, according to ( Amos 8:6 ) ; but there were but nine of them, Reuben was absent:

and they brought Joseph into Egypt;
some think these Midianites were different from the Ishmaelites, and that Joseph was sold many times, first to the Midianites, and then by them to the Ishmaelites, and by the latter to Potiphar. Justin F1, an Heathen writer, gives an account of this affair in some agreement with this history;

``Joseph (he says) was the youngest of his brethren, whose excellent genius they feared, and took him secretly, and sold him to "foreign merchants", by whom he was carried into Egypt.''


F26 Pirke Eliezer, c. 38.
F1 E. Trogo, l. 36. c. 2.

Genesis 37:28 In-Context

26 Then Judah said to his brothers, "What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood?
27 Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother, our own flesh." And his brothers listened to him.
28 Then Midianite traders passed by. And they drew Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. They took Joseph to Egypt.
29 When Reuben returned to the pit and saw that Joseph was not in the pit, he tore his clothes
30 and returned to his brothers and said, "The boy is gone, and I, where shall I go?"

Cross References 2

  • 1. ver. 36; Judges 8:22, 24
  • 2. Genesis 45:4; Psalms 105:17; Acts 7:9

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. A shekel was about 2/5 ounce or 11 grams
The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.