Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28

Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28
Proper 14A


JacobI settledII in the landIII

Notes on verse 1a

I “Jacob” = Yaaqob. From the same as aqeb (heel, hind part, hoof, rear guard of an army, one who lies in wait, usurper). This is Isaac’s son and his descendants. The name means heel-catcher or supplanter.
II “settled” = yashab. This is to sit and so to remain and so to dwell. It is sitting for any reason – as a judge, in order to ambush, or just sitting quietly. Causatively, this can mean settling or marrying. This can also mean continue, endure, or establish.
III “land” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.

where his fatherIV had lived as an alien,V the land of Canaan.VI These are the descendantsVII of Jacob.

Notes on verses 1b-2a

IV “father” = ab. This is father, chief, or ancestor. It is father in a literal or figurative sense.
V “lived as an alien” = magor. From gur (properly, the act of turning off the road for any reason; sojourning, becoming a guest; can mean being fearful since one is outside of home territory; also dwelling, living, or inhabiting if one has turned off the root to encamp for a longer duration). This is a dwelling place, a temporary lodging. It can also mean to be fearful as one might be in a strange place.
VI “Canaan” = Kna’an. From kana’ (to be humble, subdue; properly, bend the knee). This is Canaan, his descendants, and the land where they settled. This could mean lowlands, describing their land or subjugated in reference to being conquered by Egypt. See
VII “descendants” = toledoth. From yalad (to bear, bring forth; can mean to act as midwife or to show one’s lineage). This is generations descent, family, or history.

Joseph,VIII being seventeenIX yearsX old,XI

Notes on verse 2b

VIII “Joseph” = Yoseph. From yasaph (to add, increase, continue, exceed). This is Joseph, meaning “he increases” or “let him add.”
IX “seventeen” = sheba + asar. Sheba is seven or by sevenfold. It can also be used to imply a week or an indefinite number. Symbolically, this is the number of fullness, sacredness, perfection. Asar is from the same as eser (ten). This is -teen or -teenth.
X “years” = shanah. From shana (to change, alter). This is a year, age, old. It can also mean yearly.
XI “old” = ben. From banah (to build or obtain children). This is son, age, child. It is son in a literal or figurative sense.

wasXII shepherdingXIII the flockXIV with his brothers;XV

Notes on verse 2c

XII “was” = hayah. This is to be or become, to happen.
XIII “shepherding” = ra’ah. This is to tend a flock, pasture, or graze. It can mean to rule or to associate with someone. Figuratively, it can be ruler or teacher.
XIV “flock” = tson. This is a flock of sheep and goats.
XV “brothers” = ach. This is brother, kindred, another, other, like. It is literally brother, but it can also be someone who is similar, resembling, or related to.

he was a helperXVI to the sonsXVII of BilhahXVIII and Zilpah,XIX

Notes on verse 2d

XVI “helper” = naar. May be from na’ar (to shake, toss up and down, tumble around). This is a child or a servant. It is a child in their active years so they could be aged anywhere from infancy to adolescence.
XVII “sons” = ben. Same as “old” in v2. See note XI above.
XVIII “Bilhah” = Bilhah. 11x in OT. From balahh (to be afraid, to palpitate) OR from balah (to wear out). This is Bilhah, perhaps meaning “timid,” “trouble,” “foolish,” or “calamity.” It is also a place. See
XIX “Zilpah” = Zilpah. 7x in OT. Perhaps from zalaph (drip, sprinkle, pour – as fragrance or myrrh does). This is Zilpah, meaning “drop” or “sprinkle.” See

his father’s wives,XX and Joseph broughtXXI a badXXII reportXXIII of them to their father. 

Notes on verse 2e

XX “wives” = ishshah. From ish (man); perhaps from enosh (human, humankind, mortal); from anash (to be weak, sick, or frail). This is woman, wife, or female.
XXI “brought” = bo. This is to enter, come in, advance, fulfill, bring offerings, enter to worship, attack. It can also have a sexual connotation.
XXII “bad” = ra’. From ra’a’ (to be evil, bad, afflict; properly, to spoil – to destroy by breaking into pieces; figuratively, to cause something to be worthless; this is bad in a physical, social, or moral sense; that which displeases, to do harm or mischief, to punish or vex). This is bad, disagreeable, that which causes pain, misery, something having little or no value, something that is ethically bad, wicked, injury, calamity. This refers to anything that is not what it ought to be – a natural disaster, a disfigurement, an injury, a sin.
XXIII “report” = dibbah. 9x in OT. From dabab (to glide, flow gently, move slowly, speak). This is flowing so it can mean whispering, bad report, slander, or infamy.

Now IsraelXXIV lovedXXV Joseph more than any otherXXVI of his childrenXXVII

Notes on verse 3a

XXIV “Israel” = Yisrael. From sarah (to persist, exert oneself, contend, persevere, wrestle, prevail) + El (God or god). This is Israel, meaning God strives or one who strives with God; new name for Jacob and for his offspring. This refers to the people and to the land.
XXV “loved” = aheb. This is to love, beloved, friend. It is to have affection for sexually or otherwise.
XXVI “more than any other” = kol. From kalal (to complete). This is all or every.
XXVII “children” = ben. Same as “old” in v2. See note XI above.

because he was the son of his old age,XXVIII and he madeXXIX him an ornamentedXXX robe.XXXI 

Notes on verse 3b

XXVIII “old age” = zaqun. 4x in OT– all in Genesis. From zaqen (to be old, grow old, old man); from the same as zaqan (beard or chin – the beard represents old age). This is old age.
XXIX “made” = asah. This is to make, do, act, appoint, become in many senses.
XXX “ornamented” = pas. 5x in OT– of Joseph’s coat and of Tamar’s robe in 2 Samuel 13:18-19. Perhaps from pasas (to disappear, disperse); from pas (palm of the hand). This is the palm of the hand or flat of the foot. It can be used to describe a robe that is long that has sleeves or maybe an especially wide one. Sometimes this has been translated as having many colors.
XXXI “robe” = kethoneth. Root may mean to cover. This is a tunic, coat, or other kind of garment.

But when his brothers sawXXXII that their father loved him more than allXXXIII his brothers, they hatedXXXIV him and couldXXXV not speakXXXVI peaceablyXXXVII to him.

Notes on verse 4

XXXII “saw” = raah. This is to see in a literal or figurative sense so stare, advise, think, view.
XXXIII “more than all” = kol. Same as “more than any other” in v3. See note XXVI above.
XXXIV “hated” = sane. This is to hate, an enemy. It is a personal hatred and not an abstract one.
XXXV “could” = yakol. This is to be able, endure, overcome, prevail.
XXXVI “speak” = dabar. This is generally to speak, answer, declare, or command. It might mean to arrange and so to speak in a figurative sense as arranging words.
XXXVII “peaceably” = shalom. From shalam (to be complete or sound; to have safety mentally, physically, or extending to one’s estate; so, if these things are safe and complete, the implication is that one would be friendly; and, if being friendly, one would make amends and that friendship would be reciprocated). This is completeness, soundness, welfare, favor, friend, good health. It is to be safe and figuratively well, happy, at peace, friendly. Abstractly, it includes the ideas of welfare and prosperity (not in excessive wealth, but in having enough).

12 Now his brothers wentXXXVIII to pastureXXXIX their father’s flock near Shechem.XL 

Notes on verse 12

XXXVIII “went” = halak. This is go, come, walk. It is walk literally and figuratively and includes people and animals. It can be used figuratively for one’s moral life – how we walk according to God’s way or against it. It can also refer to the walk of life as in the course one’s life takes, the choices we make, etc.
XXXIX “pasture” = ra’ah. Same as “shepherding” in v2. See note XIII above.
XL “Shechem” = Shekem. From the same as shekem (shoulder, neck, or some other place that bears burdens; figuratively, the spur of a hill, or one’s allotted portion); from shakam (to rise early, begin work early; properly, this is leaning one’s shoulder or back into a load or a burden; also, loading an animal for work). This is Shechem, meaning “ridge.”

13 And Israel said to Joseph, “Are not your brothers pasturing the flock at Shechem? Come,XLI I will sendXLII you to them.”

He answered, “Here I am.”XLIII

Notes on verse 13

XLI “come” = halak. Same as “went” in v12. See note XXXVIII above.
XLII “send” = shalach. This is to send out, away, send for, forsake. It can also mean to divorce or set a slave free.
XLIII “here I am” = hinneh. From hen (lo! Behold! If, though; an expression of surprise). This is to draw attention, show suddenness or surprise, or to emphasize the importance of the coming statement. See! Lo! Behold!

14 So he said to him, “Go now,XLIV see if it is wellXLV with your brothers and with the flock, and bring wordXLVI backXLVII to me.”

Notes on verse 14a

XLIV “now” = na. This particle is used for requests or for urging. It can be we pray, now, I ask you, oh. This is the same “na” in “hosanna.”
XLV “well” = shalom. Same as “peaceably” in v4. See note XXXVII above.
XLVI “word” = dabar. Related to “speak” in v4. From dabar (see note XXXVI above). This is speech, a word, a matter, an affair, charge, command, message, promise, purpose, report, request. It is a word, which implies things that are spoken of in a wide sense.
XLVII “bring…back” = shub. To turn back, return, turn away – literally or figuratively. Doesn’t necessarily imply going back to where you started from. This is also the root verb for the Hebrew word for repentance “teshubah.”

So he sent him from the valleyXLVIII of Hebron.XLIX

He came to Shechem, 15 and a manL foundLI himLII

Notes on verses 14b-15a

XLVIII “valley” = emeq. From amoq (to be deep in a literal or figurative sense; profound). This is Vale or valley – frequently part of place names.
XLIX “Hebron” = Chebron. From cheber (company, society, enchantment, wide); from chabar (to unite, ally, attach, touch; to join in a literal or figurative sense; also, specially, using magic knots or spells to fascinate or connect). This is Hebron, meaning “seat of association” or “league.”
L “man” = enosh. Related to “wives” in v2. See note XX above.
LI “found” = matsa. This is to find, catch or acquire. It can also mean to come forth or appear. Figuratively, this can mean to meet or be together with.
LII {untranslated} = hinneh. Same as “here I am” in v13. See note XLIII above.

wanderingLIII in the fields;LIV the man askedLV him, “What are you seeking?”LVI 

16 “I am seeking my brothers,” he said; “tellLVII me, please,LVIII where they are pasturing the flock.”  

Notes on verses 15b-16

LIII “wandering” = taah. This is to wander, deceive, seduce, vacillate. It is to stray in a literal or figurative sense.
LIV “fields” = sadeh. This is literally field, ground, soil, or land. It can be used to mean wild like a wild animal.
LV “asked” = shaal. This is to ask, inquire, beg, borrow, desire, request. It can also mean to demand.
LVI “seeking” = baqash. This is to seek, ask, desire, or request. It can be any kind of searching. It can also mean to worship or pray – implies a striving for.
LVII “tell” = nagad. This is to declare, make conspicuous, stand in front, manifest, predict, explain.
LVIII “please” = na. Same as “now” in v14. See note XLIV above.

17 The manLIX said, “They have gone away,LX for I heardLXI them say, ‘Let us go to Dothan.’”LXII So Joseph went afterLXIII his brothers and found them at Dothan. 

Notes on verse 17

LIX “man” = ish. Related to “wives” in v2 & “man” in v15. See note XX above.
LX “gone away” = nasa. This is properly pulling up as when one pulls up tent pegs or stakes. This would imply striking tents in order to start a journey. So this could be bring, pullout, set out, journey, or cause to go away.
LXI “heard” = shama. This is to hear, call, consent, or consider. It implies listening intelligently, giving attention, and, because of these two factors, obedience and action are often implied.
LXII “Dothan” = Dothan. 3x in OT. Perhaps from Aramaic dat (“decree or well”). This is Dothan, north of Samaria, meaning “decree,” “well,” or “two cisterns.” See
LXIII “after” = achar. From achar (to remain behind, linger, continue, be behind, or delay; can also imply procrastination). This is after or the last part, following.

18 They saw him from a distance,LXIV and beforeLXV he came nearLXVI to them they conspiredLXVII to killLXVIII him. 

Notes on verse 18

LXIV “distance” = rachoq. From rachaq (to widen, become distant, cast, or remove in a literal or figurative sense). This is distant or far, whether of space or of time.
LXV “before” = terem. May come from a word that means to interrupt. This is not yet or before.
LXVI “came near” = qarab. This is to come near, offer, make ready, approach, take.
LXVII “conspired” = nakal. 4x in OT. This is to deceive, defraud, be crafty or treacherous. It can also mean to conspire.
LXVIII “kill” = mut. This is to die in a literal or figurative sense. It can also refer to being a dead body.

19 They said to oneLXIX another,LXX “Here comes thisLXXI dreamer.LXXII 

Notes on verse 19

LXIX “one” = ish. Same as “man” in v17. See note LIX above.
LXX “another” = ach. Same as “brothers” in v2. See note XV above.
LXXI {untranslated} = baal. From ba’al (to marry, have dominion, be master). This is lord, owner, ally, master, or archer.
LXXII “dreamer” = chalom. From chalam (properly, to bind solidly and so to be plump; to be healthy or strong, to recover; figuratively, to dream). This is a dream or dreamer.

20 ComeLXXIII now,LXXIV let us killLXXV him and throwLXXVI him into oneLXXVII of the pits;LXXVIII

Notes on verse 20a

LXXIII “come” = halak. Same as “went” in v12. See note XXXVIII above.
LXXIV “now” = attah. Perhaps from et (a period or season; whenever or continually); probably from anah (to answer, sing, announce); from ad (forever, all, old); from adah (to pass on, advance, decorate oneself). This is now, from now on.
LXXV “kill” = harag. This is to strike with deadly intent so it can be kill, destroy, murder, or put to death.
LXXVI “throw” = shalak. This is to throw, fling, or hurl. It can also be to throw away in a literal or figurative sense.
LXXVII “one” = echad. Perhaps from achad (to unify, continue on a path; figuratively, to gather one’s thoughts). This is the number one, first, united. It can also be alone, altogether, a certain, a few.
LXXVIII “pits” = bor. From bur (to bore; figuratively, to explain, examine, or clear up). This is a pit – generally a cistern or dungeon. It could also be a well or fountain.

then we shall say that a wildLXXIX animalLXXX has devouredLXXXI him, and we shall see what will becomeLXXXII of his dreams.”LXXXIII 

Notes on verse 20b

LXXIX “wild” = ra’. Same as “bad” in v2. See note XXII above.
LXXX “animal” = chay. From chayah (to live or keep alive literally or figuratively). This is alive, living, lifetime. It can also be used to describe someone’s age. It can refer to animals, plants, water, or a company or congregation of people. It is life in a very broad sense.
LXXXI “devoured” = akal. This is to eat, devour, burn up, or otherwise consume. It can be eating in a literal or figurative sense.
LXXXII “become” = hayah. Same as “was” in v2. See note XII above.
LXXXIII “dreams” = chalom. Same as “dreamer” in v19. See note LXXII above.

21 But when ReubenLXXXIV heard it, he deliveredLXXXV him out of their hands,LXXXVI saying, “Let us not takeLXXXVII his life.”LXXXVIII 

Notes on verse 21

LXXXIV “Reuben” = Reuben. Related to “saw” in v4 & to “old” in v2. From raah (see note XXXII above) + ben (see note XI above). This is Reuben, meaning “behold a son.”
LXXXV “delivered” = natsal. This is to snatch someone or something away in a good sense – as rescue, defend, or deliver – or in a bad sense – as strip or plunder.
LXXXVI “hands” = yad. This is hand, ability, power. Hand in a literal sense, but also what one can do or the means by which one does it.
LXXXVII “take” = nakah. This is to hit whether lightly or severely. It can be used in a literal or figurative sense. So, this could be beat, punish, give wounds, kill, or slaughter.
LXXXVIII “life” = nephesh. Related to naphash (to refresh or be refreshed). This is soul, self, person, emotion. It is a breathing creature. Can also refer to appetites and desires.

22 Reuben said to them, “ShedLXXXIX no blood;XC throw him into this pit here in the wilderness,XCI but lay no hand on him”—that he might rescueXCII him out of their hand and restoreXCIII him to his father. 

Notes on verse 22

LXXXIX “shed” = shaphak. This is to pour out, gust, or slip. It can be to pour as blood, a drink offering, or molten metal. It can also mean to create a mound. Figuratively, it can refer to killing, or spending money.
XC “blood” = dam. Perhaps from damam (to cease, be or become mute, silent, still, cut off, hold peace, be astonished, die). This is blood, bloodshed, bloodguilt, lifeblood, and death. It is used for people and animals. More often blood from a wound or the blood of the innocent. Used figuratively for violence or for wine. Closely tied to life and death.
XCI “wilderness” = midbar. Related to “speak” in v4 & “word” in v14. From dabar (see note XXVI above). This is mouth or speech. It can also be desert or wilderness. Additionally, it can be used for a pasture to which one drives cattle.
XCII “rescue” = natsal. Same as “delivered” in v21. See note LXXXV above.
XCIII “restore” = shub. Same as “bring…back” in v14. See note XLVII above.

23 SoXCIV when Joseph cameXCV to his brothers, they strippedXCVI him of his robe, the ornamented robe that he wore, 24 and they tookXCVII him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty;XCVIII there was noXCIX waterC in it.

Notes on verses 23-24

XCIV {untranslated} = hayah. Same as “was” in v2. See note XII above.
XCV “came” = bo. Same as “brought” in v2. See note XXI above.
XCVI “stripped” = pashat. This is to raid or invade. Figuratively, it means to strip or plunder.
XCVII “took” = laqach. This is to take, accept, carry away, receive. It can also have the sense of take a wife or take in marriage.
XCVIII “empty” = req. 14x in OT. From riq (to be empty or to make empty; also vanity, emptiness, something worthless, in vain); from ruq (to pour out in a literal or figurative sense, hence, to be or make empty). This is empty, vain, or worthless.
XCIX “no” = ayin. Perhaps from a word that means to be nothing. This means nothing, none, non-existent. It can also simply mean not or are not.
C “water” = mayim. This is water, waters, or waterway in a general sense. Figuratively, it can also mean juice, urine, or semen.

25 Then they sat downCI to eat,CII, CIII and looking upCIV they sawCV

Notes on verse 25a

CI “sat down” = yashab. Same as “settled” in v1. See note II above.
CII “eat” = akal. Same as “devoured” in v20. See note LXXXI above.
CIII {untranslated} = lechem. From lacham (to eat, feed on). This is bread, food, loaf. It can refer to food more generally for people or for animals.
CIV “looking up” = nasa + ayin. Literally, “lifting their eyes.” Nasa is to lift in a broad sense, literally and figuratively. So it could be to carry, take, or arise. It could also be bring forth, advance, accept. Ayin is eye in a literal or figurative sense so eye, appearance, favor, or a fountain (the eye of the landscape).
CV {untranslated} = hinneh. Same as “here I am” in v13. See note XLIII above.

a caravanCVI of IshmaelitesCVII comingCVIII from Gilead,CIX

Notes on verse 25b

CVI “caravan” = orechah. 2x in OT. From arach (to go, travel, wander). This is a caravan or other company that travels together.
CVII “Ishmaelites” = Yishmeeli. Related to “heard” in v17 & to “Israel” in v3. 8x in OT. From Yishmael (Ishmael, meaning “God hears” or “God will hear”); {from shama (see note LXI above) + El (see note XXIV above)}. This is Ishmaelite.
CVIII “coming” = bo. Same as “brought” in v2. See note XXI above.
CIX “Gilead” = Gilad. From gala (to lay bare, quarrel, expose) OR from gal’ed (heap of testimony); {from gal (wave, billow, rock pile; something rolled; a spring of water); {from galal (to roll, roll away, wallow, commit, remove; rolling in a literal or figurative sense)} + ed (witness, testimony, recorder); from ud (to admonish, repeat, duplicate, testify, restore, record, relieve)}}. This is Gilead, meaning “perpetual fountain” or “heap of testimony.” See

with their camelsCX carryingCXI gum,CXII balm,CXIII

Notes on verse 25c

CX “camels” = gamal. From gamal (how one deals with someone whether positively or negatively – so to reward, requite; to wean or the work that goes into something ripening). This is a camel as an animal of labor or one that bears burdens. The English word “camel” is from a Semitic source, perhaps Hebrew or others.
CXI “carrying” = nasa. Same as “looking up” in v25. See note CIV above.
CXII “gum” = nekoth. 2x in OT. From naka (to smite, drive away) OR from nake (smitten, stricken, wounded). This is a natural, aromatic gum or spice. It might be tragacanth gum. See
CXIII “balm” = tsori. 6x in OT– this is the balm in Gilead in Jeremiah 8:22. Root might be to crack as under pressure, to leak. This is gum from the balsam tree – perhaps commiphora gileadensis. See &

and resin,CXIV on their wayCXV to carry it downCXVI to Egypt.CXVII 

Notes on verse 25d

CXIV “resin” = lot. 2x in OT. This is a gum or resin – probably labdanum or myrrh. See & All three products are also found in Genesis 43 when Israel sends gifts back with Benjamin to Joseph.
CXV “on their way” = halak. Same as “went” in v12. See note XXXVIII above.
CXVI “carry…down” = yarad. This is to go down, descend; going down in a literal or figurative sense. It can be going to the shore or a boundary, bringing down an enemy.
CXVII “Egypt” = Mitsrayim. Perhaps from matsor (besieged or fortified place, bulwark, entrenchment; something hemmed in; a siege or distress or fastness); from tsur (to confine, besiege, to cramp). This is Egypt.

26 Then JudahCXVIII said to his brothers, “What profitCXIX is it if we killCXX our brother and concealCXXI his blood? 

Notes on verse 26

CXVIII “Judah” = Yehudah. Probably from yadah (to throw one’s hands into the air in a gesture of praise); from yad (hand). This is Judah, meaning “praised.”
CXIX “profit” = betsa. From batsa (to break or cut off, to acquire violently, break ranks, greedy, fulfill; usually, it means to plunder). This is dishonest gain or gain from violence. It can also be plunder or profit.
CXX “kill” = harag. Same as “kill” in v20. See note LXXV above.
CXXI “conceal” = kasah. This is to cover, conceal, overwhelm. It is to cover as clothes do or to hide a secret.

27 Come,CXXII let us sellCXXIII him to the Ishmaelites and not layCXXIV our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.”CXXV And his brothers agreed.CXXVI 

Notes on verse 27

CXXII “come” = halak. Same as “went” in v12. See note XXXVIII above.
CXXIII “sell” = makar. This is to sell – could be commerce/trade, a daughter to be married, someone into slavery. Figuratively, it can mean to surrender.
CXXIV “lay” = hayah. Same as “was” in v2. See note XII above.
CXXV “flesh” = basar. From basar (being a messenger, publish, carry preach; properly, this is being fresh, rosy or cheerful as one bearing news). This is flesh, the body, fat, skin, self, nakedness, humankind, or kin. It can also refer to private parts.
CXXVI “agreed” = shama. Same as “heard” in v17. See note LXI above.

28 When someCXXVII MidianiteCXXVIII tradersCXXIX passed by,CXXX

Notes on verse 28a

CXXVII {untranslated} = ish. Same as “man” in v17. See note LIX above.
CXXVIII “Midianite” = Midyani. 8x in OT. From midyan (Midian, Midianite, meaning “strife” or “place of judgment”); from the same as midyan (brawling, contention); from the same as madon (strife, contention, brawling); from din (to judge, defend, dispute, govern, strive). This is Midianite.
CXXIX “traders” = sachar. To travel, go around. So, it is to travel like a peddler, to trade, to be a merchant. It can also mean to palpitate.
CXXX “passed by” = abar. This is to pass over or cross over. It is used for transitions, whether literal or figurative. It can also mean to escape, alienate, or fail. This is the root verb from which “Hebrew” is drawn.

they drewCXXXI Joseph up, liftingCXXXII him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twentyCXXXIII pieces of silver.CXXXIV And they tookCXXXV Joseph to Egypt.

Notes on verse 28b

CXXXI “drew” = mashak. This is to draw, drag, or pull. It can mean sow, march, remove, draw along, continue, extend, or prolong.
CXXXII “lifting” = alah. This is to go up, approach, ascend, be high, be a priority; to arise in a literal or figurative sense.
CXXXIII “twenty” = esrim. Related to “seventeen” in v2. From the same as eser (see note IX above). This is twenty or twentieth.
CXXXIV “silver” = keseph. From kasaph (to long for, be greedy; to become pale). This is silver or money.
CXXXV “took” = bo. Same as “brought” in v2. See note XXI above.

Image credit: “Sunset Camel Caravan” by chiaralily, 2020.

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