Genesis 37:29

29 When Reuben returned to the cistern and saw that Joseph was not there, he tore his clothes.

Read Genesis 37:29 Using Other Translations

And Reuben returned unto the pit; and, behold, Joseph was not in the pit; and he rent his clothes.
When Reuben returned to the pit and saw that Joseph was not in the pit, he tore his clothes
Some time later, Reuben returned to get Joseph out of the cistern. When he discovered that Joseph was missing, he tore his clothes in grief.

What does Genesis 37:29 mean?

John Gill's Exposition of the Bible
Genesis 37:29

And Reuben returned unto the pit
It is very probable he had pretended to go somewhere on business, with an intention to take a circuit, and come to the pit and deliver his brother, and go home with him to his father. The Jews say F2 he departed from his brethren, and sat down on a certain mountain, that he might descend in the night and take Joseph out of the pit, and accordingly he came down in the night, and found him not. So Josephus F3 says, it was in the night when Reuben came to the pit, who calling to Joseph, and he not answering, suspected he was killed:

and, behold, Joseph [was] not in the pit;
for neither by looking down into it could he see him, nor by calling be answered by him, which made it a clear case to him he was not there:

and he rent his clothes;
as a token of distress and anguish of mind, of sorrow and mourning, as was usual in such cases; Jacob afterwards did the same, ( Genesis 37:34 ) .


FOOTNOTES:

F2 Pirke Eliezer, ut supra. (c. 38.)
F3 Antiqu. l. 2. c. 3. sect. 3.
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