The brothers approached the manager of Joseph’s household and spoke to him at the entrance to the palace. “Sir,” they said, “we came to Egypt once before to buy food. But as we were returning home, we stopped for the night and opened our sacks. Then we discovered that each man’s money—the exact amount paid—was in the top of his sack! Here it is; we have brought it back with us. We also have additional money to buy more food. We have no idea who put our money in our sacks.”
“Relax. Don’t be afraid,” the household manager told them. “Your God, the God of your father, must have put this treasure into your sacks. I know I received your payment.” Then he released Simeon and brought him out to them. (Genesis 43:19-23)
Guilt always does a number on us. It certainly did on Joseph's brothers. Though standing before an unnamed, soft-spoken servant from Egypt, whom they had never really known throughout their lives, they poured out their confession.
"We don't know how the money got back in our sacks the first time, but here it is. We've brought it all back. We also brought additional money to buy more food. That's why we're here . . . to buy food."
I love the steward's reassuring response: "Be at ease," he told them. The Hebrew Bible says, simply, "Shalom." The steward, who knew their well-known language, used their word for peace. He said, in effect, "Hey, shalom, men—be at peace. Settle down. Don't be afraid." And then this Egyptian even witnessed to them about their God. "Your own God is the one who put the treasure in your sacks. Nobody thinks you stole it. I know what happened; I was the one who put it there. I was the one who had your money. It was a treasure from Elohim, the God of your father."
They were in agony, wondering when the other shoe was going to drop. Instead, the steward said, "Shalom! Elohim has done it again." What a reproof! And, by the way, what an interesting surprise that this Egyptian steward understood such sound theology. No doubt, it was the result of Joseph's influence through the years. He personifies what we considered earlier—vertical perspective.
Joseph's brothers had never thought to relate the return of their money to the abundant grace of God. Why? Because guilt had kept them from seeing God's hand of grace in their lives. (It always does!) Yet the unmerited favor of God had been demonstrated in abundance to them: grain in abundance, money in abundance. And now their brother Simeon is restored to them, healthy and whole. Mercy in abundance.
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