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While Joseph's brothers plotted against him, was Benjamin a part?

Here's the story, from Genesis 37:18-36 (NKJV):

18 When Joseph’s brothers saw him coming, they recognized him in the distance. As he approached, they made plans to kill him. 19 “Here comes the dreamer!” they said. 20 “Come on, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns. We can tell our father, ‘A wild animal has eaten him.’ Then we’ll see what becomes of his dreams!”

21 But when Reuben heard of their scheme, he came to Joseph’s rescue. “Let’s not kill him,” he said. 22 “Why should we shed any blood? Let’s just throw him into this empty cistern here in the wilderness. Then he’ll die without our laying a hand on him.” Reuben was secretly planning to rescue Joseph and return him to his father.

23 So when Joseph arrived, his brothers ripped off the beautiful robe he was wearing. 24 Then they grabbed him and threw him into the cistern. Now the cistern was empty; there was no water in it. 25 Then, just as they were sitting down to eat, they looked up and saw a caravan of camels in the distance coming toward them. It was a group of Ishmaelite traders taking a load of gum, balm, and aromatic resin from Gilead down to Egypt.

26 Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain by killing our brother? We’d have to cover up the crime. 27 Instead of hurting him, let’s sell him to those Ishmaelite traders. After all, he is our brother—our own flesh and blood!” And his brothers agreed. 28 So when the Ishmaelites, who were Midianite traders, came by, Joseph’s brothers pulled him out of the cistern and sold him to them for twenty pieces of silver. And the traders took him to Egypt.

29 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. 30 Then he went back to his brothers and lamented, “The boy is gone! What will I do now?”

31 Then the brothers killed a young goat and dipped Joseph’s robe in its blood. 32 They sent the beautiful robe to their father with this message: “Look at what we found. Doesn’t this robe belong to your son?”

33 Their father recognized it immediately. “Yes,” he said, “it is my son’s robe. A wild animal must have eaten him. Joseph has clearly been torn to pieces!” 34 Then Jacob tore his clothes and dressed himself in burlap. He mourned deeply for his son for a long time. 35 His family all tried to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. “I will go to my grave mourning for my son,” he would say, and then he would weep.

36 Meanwhile, the Midianite traders arrived in Egypt, where they sold Joseph to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. Potiphar was captain of the palace guard.

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  • was benjamin in on the plot to sell joseph, the genesis story was for context, though if somebody was qualified to answer then they should already know the story
    – Dave
    Feb 1, 2022 at 23:56
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    Benjamin was too young.
    – Perry Webb
    Feb 2, 2022 at 0:18
  • @Dave we still need to quote the text every time, though an abbreviated version could work or at least chapter and verse with a link, such as to biblegateway.com, the full text isn't a bad idea.
    – Jesse
    May 10, 2022 at 4:07

5 Answers 5

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It is impossible that young Benjamin was part fo the plot to sell/enslave Joseph for two simple reasons:

  • Joseph was 17 years old when this occurred (Gen 37:1-3) and Benjamin was at least five years younger again. This means he was about 10-12 years old at the time - far too young to contribute to such an evil plan
  • Because Benjamin was so beloved by Jacob as the last son of the beloved Rachel, it was only the 10 older brothers who went to the distant Dothan to find [pasture for the sheep. Benjamin was still at home and was not part of the planning.
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  • I think it's unlikely he was part of it, but I wouldn't say it was impossible, especially not for his age. If you know any 10-12 year olds you'll know that sin can be very present in their lives!
    – curiousdannii
    May 9, 2022 at 3:19
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    @curiousdannii - two points: I agree that 10-12 year olds can be very sinful, but devious and devilish to plan the effective death of his beloved brother? In any case, he was back with the father Jacob and NOT in Dothan.
    – Dottard
    May 9, 2022 at 9:43
  • Yeah the second point is the main argument. The first is disputable considering some of the very young murderers we've seen in history.
    – curiousdannii
    May 9, 2022 at 11:42
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Benjamin was quite younger and often stayed at home with his Father hence was likely not part of the plot.

Gen 42:4 (NASB emphasis added)

But Jacob did not send Joseph’s brother Benjamin with his brothers, for he said, “I am afraid that harm may befall him.”

Gen 42:36 (NASB emphasis added)

Their father Jacob said to them, “You have bereaved me of my children: Joseph is no more, and Simeon is no more, and you would take Benjamin; all these things are against me.”

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  • Welcome to Hermeneutics! We have a higher standard for Answers and questions here. Please read this article about that. Could you please provide a quote from the Bible along with some explanation for how you came to that conclusion so others can learn from your thinking process? That's what we do in Hermeneutics.
    – Jesse
    May 7, 2022 at 22:53
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I don't think Benjamin involved in the scheme of selling Joseph to Egypt.

Joseph was a boy, 17 years old, when he had the dreams (Gen. 37:2) and quickly after that he was sold into slavery. Joseph was 30 years old when he started to serve Pharaoh in Egypt (Gen 41:45). There were 7 years of great plenty followed by the famine. Joseph saw Benjamin and his brothers and revealed to them who he is the second year of the famine. (Gen 45:6)

Adding up all the years, Joseph was about 39 years old when he met Benjamin and his brothers. He has spent 22 years in Egypt by that time.

At that time, Benjamin was still mentioned as "a young brother, a child of his (Jacob) old age" (Gen 44:20), the boy or the lad (Gen. 44:22, 30-33). So, Benjamin was still a young boy, a lad, or a teen, when he met Joseph, his brother, after Joseph had spent 22 years in Egypt.

For this reason, some believe that Benjamin might have been born even after Joseph had been sold to Egypt. I am not discussing that matter in this question. However, it is obvious that Benjamin was not with the other brothers who pastured their father's flocks and planned to sell Joseph to Egypt.

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  • I have to disagree with Ben not being born yet, as Joe recognized Ben, so he had to at least have been born
    – Dave
    Feb 13, 2022 at 2:07
  • Not necessarily. Benjamin wouldn't so likely resemble his infant self at 20+ years old. And, it is likely that he shared the look of Joseph himself or their mother. Recognition alone is not enough to date birth time. Good note of details, and meaningful, just not necessarily.
    – Jesse
    May 9, 2022 at 9:05
  • Benjamin had 10 children by the time Joseph revealed himself to his brothers. (Genesis 46:21.) Benjamin was certainly not still a young boy. His father refers to him as such because he was the youngest, the way my mother still called me her baby when I was 30. Apr 18, 2023 at 14:27
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Gen. 46 describes by each of their names Joseph’s entire family moving to Egypt, including Benjamin’s 10 sons by name (Gen. 46:21) so Ben was actually a grown man.

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    – Community Bot
    Apr 18, 2023 at 12:35
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Another possible piece of evidence that Benjamin was not with the other brothers during the plot, was that later in his life, Joseph investigated wether or not Benjamin was alive.

Genesis 43:7 They replied, “The man questioned us closely about ourselves and our family. ‘Is your father still living?’ he asked us. ‘Do you have another brother?’ We simply answered his questions. How were we to know he would say, ‘Bring your brother down here’?”

It's possible that Joseph was trying to figure out if Benjamin had also been killed. If Benjamin was not present when the plot unfolded, than this might prompt Joseph to question if Benjamin, too, was in danger, considering they were both sons of the favoured wife.

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