It took some doing, but Jacob’s sons made it back home with the grain from that strange Egyptian. Their father wasn’t about to let Benjamin return with them for more, so everyone just stayed put. Little did they know the famine would keep going, but it did—right through chapter forty-three. The brothers knew they could either take Benjamin back or starve. Jacob was given a choice.
A maturing Judah is rising to leadership, and makes the case to their father, who eventually agrees. After traveling to Egypt, the brothers are again taken by surprise at this important man. He’d accused them of being spies, held their brother Simeon for probably a year or more, and now what? He invites them to dinner? This is where we find a hidden gem in this complex story—it’s the gem of the wise steward.
The man did as Joseph told him and brought the men to Joseph’s house. And the men were afraid because they were brought to Joseph’s house, and they said, “It is because of the money, which was replaced in our sacks the first time, that we are brought in, so that he may assault us and fall upon us to make us servants and seize our donkeys.” So they went up to the steward of Joseph’s house and spoke with him at the door of the house, and said, “Oh, my lord, we came down the first time to buy food. And when we came to the lodging place we opened our sacks, and there was each man’s money in the mouth of his sack, our money in full weight. So we have brought it again with us, and we have brought other money down with us to buy food. We do not know who put our money in our sacks.”
He replied, “Peace to you, do not be afraid. Your God and the God of your father has put treasure in your sacks for you. I received your money.” Then he brought Simeon out to them. And when the man had brought the men into Joseph’s house and given them water, and they had washed their feet, and when he had given their donkeys fodder, they prepared the present for Joseph’s coming at noon, for they heard that they should eat bread there.Genesis 43:17-25 ESV
We know nothing about this steward. Did he know who Joseph was? Was he also a Hebrew? How was he able to give such a response?
All these questions were going through my head as I read this interesting encounter. The brothers wanted to make sure Pharaoh’s official understood their predicament and fears. They needed to explain about the money they found in their sacks and how they’ve brought it all back plus payment for more grain. You can hear the angst in their voices.
What they didn’t expect was the reply they received from this servant. Look at what he offers:
- Peace instead of fear: “Peace to you, do not be afraid.”
- Provision from God: “Your God and the God of your father has put treasure in your sacks for you.”
- Recompense: “I received your money.”
- Reconciliation: Then he brought Simeon out to them.
- Needs met: He brought the men into Joseph’s house, gave them water, so they could wash their feet. He also gave their donkeys fodder.
- Cleansing: Provided water for them to wash their feet.
- A seat at the table: They prepared the present for Joseph’s coming at noon, for they heard that they should eat bread there.
The rest of this strange meal finishes out the chapter, and we will see the big reveal by Joseph in chapter forty-five, but for today, I’m thinking of this servant—the wise steward. He was so in tune with his master, that he knew what would calm the fears of these Hebrew shepherds. Peace and provision from the God they served, willingly offered through the most unlikely of people.
God may be choosing you to be just such a wise steward to a fearful and anxious stranger. The closer you stay to your Master, the easier it will be for you to offer his…
Grace and Peace