In Genesis 43:10 (NASB)

For if we had not delayed, surely by now we could have returned twice.

Does this make sense to be interpreted literally?


We are not told how much time was involved, nor do we know where Joseph was stationed, so we do not know how much distance was involved.

However, if we assume

  • a sample trip equivalent to the distance from Beersheba to Cairo
  • A distance of about 300 km (about 200 miles)
  • A travel distance of about 30 km (about 20 miles) per day at walking pace with camels or donkeys

... then the trip might take about 2 weeks to travel one way. Therefore, two return trips would require two months.

The other way to understand this statement is simple hyperbole to make an effect.

Therefore, it is possible to understand this statement literally, if at least two months' time is involved. However, it may be hyperbolic.

  • In Genesis 45:10 we read «For you shall live in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me (...)». So to get a closer understanding of the distance we'd need to know where Goshen is. Then it'll be easier to estimate from Goshen to Canaan – Tiago Martins Peres 李大仁 Jan 16 at 9:54
  • 1
    @TiagoMartinsPeres李大仁 - that is why I picked Cairo which almost the same as the ancient capital of Egypt - and is a good representative location of where Joseph was likely to be. Goshen is near by. – Dottard Jan 16 at 11:17

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