Introduction: At the time of this story, Joseph was second in command only to Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. Joseph’s brothers had come a year or so before this to buy grain; now, that grain was gone and they came back to purchase some more. But they were in for a surprise once they came in contact with Joseph’s steward!
Text, Genesis 43:16-25, KJV: 16 And when Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the ruler of his house, Bring these men home, and slay, and make ready; for these men shall dine with me at noon. 17 And the man did as Joseph bade; and the man brought the men into Joseph's house. 18 And the men were afraid, because they were brought into Joseph's house; and they said, Because of the money that was returned in our sacks at the first time are we brought in; that he may seek occasion against us, and fall upon us, and take us for bondmen, and our asses. 19 And they came near to the steward of Joseph's house, and they communed with him at the door of the house, 20 And said, O sir, we came indeed down at the first time to buy food: 21 And it came to pass, when we came to the inn, that we opened our sacks, and, behold, every man's money was in the mouth of his sack, our money in full weight: and we have brought it again in our hand. 22 And other money have we brought down in our hands to buy food: we cannot tell who put our money in our sacks. 23 And he said, Peace be to you, fear not: your God, and the God of your father, hath given you treasure in your sacks: I had your money. And he brought Simeon out unto them. 24 And the man brought the men into Joseph's house, and gave them water, and they washed their feet; and he gave their asses provender. 25 And they made ready the present against Joseph came at noon: for they heard that they should eat bread there.
Thoughts: The identity and role of this particular servant, or “steward”, is never given. What is recorded, though, are the deeds and actions as he dealt with Joseph’s brothers when they came to Egypt the second time to purchase food.
First, the servant was told to bring Joseph’s brothers to Joseph’s house and then prepare a meal for them. This must have taken place sometime in the morning because Joseph told the steward to have the meal ready at noon. And, as verse 17 relates, he did exactly that. There is a parallel to this in the New Testament: Jesus Himself explained a related concept in what may be a very brief lesson to the disciples in Luke 17:6-10, especially verse 10.
After that, he spoke to Joseph’s brothers. Actually, they spoke to him because they were afraid! They were scared, being brought into the house of the second most powerful man in Egypt and before that, they had seen Simeon bound before their eyes and kept as a hostage (Gen. 42:24). Perhaps they were wondering, was a similar fate was in store for them?
He reassured them and calmed their fears about the money they had brought the first time (verses 21-23) and told them, “I had your money!” This could mean he kept it until they left and also that he arranged to have the money put back in their sacks.
Finally, he brought Simeon back to them! After a time of rejoicing (and who could blame them!), I’m sure, he brought them INTO Joseph’s house (the previous events took place outdoors, it seems) and gave them water, to wash their feet; and “provender” or food for the animals. Rebekah and her brother Laban had done much the same for Abraham’s servants in Genesis 24, many miles and many years from Egypt. Was a similar custom ever observed by native Egyptians for anyone else? When all this was done, he apparently left them so they could get ready for the meal—at the very least, the steward isn’t mentioned in the rest of this chapter. Perhaps it’s just as well; this was Joseph’s time to be reunited with his brothers.
And what a reunion it proved to be! The complete story is told in Genesis 45.
But this servant, this steward, had an important part to play. He did exactly what he was told to do, he assured his guests all would be well, and he ministered to their basic needs. O that we would be willing to serve the Lord, even in little things, like this unsung hero, Joseph’s steward.
Someone once remarked, “If God can’t trust you with the little things, He can’t trust you with much of anything”. May this never be said of any believer!
Scripture quotations taken from the King James Version of the Bible (KJV).
Related Sermon Illustrations
Contributed by Charles R. Swindoll on Oct 13, 2004
The nursing aides for the 89-year-old man planned a surprise party for him. This active and alert retired doctor had his leg amputated two years ago. It had been a struggle to adjust to living his life with only one leg, spending most of his time in a wheelchair. Family, friends and volunteers ...read more
Contributed by Charles R. Swindoll on Oct 13, 2004
A church member went to his pastor, Phillips Brooks, to tell him he was going to the Holy Land. He said that it was his intention to visit Mount Sinai. "In fact," the man told the minister, "I plan to climb to the top of that mountain and when I get there read aloud the Ten Commandments." ...read more
Contributed by Pastor Dr. Tim Awotide on Jul 31, 2014
Something must change when God wants to do a new thing. Look at story of 3 people who experienced a new thing. They had to change something. Everyone in scripture who experienced a major New Thing had to change something.
Contributed by Bruce Lee on Nov 6, 2011
Detailed individial look at each of the twelve tribes of Israel. With focus on the unique name and mission as a tribe fullfilling God’s plan.
Contributed by John Gaston on Dec 29, 2016
Joseph, after 13 years of trauma, was elevated from the dungeon to Prime Minister. He's a great example on how to "turn the page" from an unpleasant period of life to a positive, fulfilling and fruitful phase. Let's follow his example!