An Unexpected Lunch at Joseph’s House (Genesis 43:16)

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The brothers have arrived in Egypt, money in hand, ready to redeem their brother Simeon from prison.

Their first stop? An invite from Joseph to dine at his house for lunch.

Normally, such an invitation from a member of the royal administration would be worth its weight in gold. This is an opportunity to advance your cause! Improve your status! Make valuable connections!

The only problem is that Joseph – whose identity is not yet known to the brothers – has recently accused them of being spies. To the brothers, this invitation for lunch looks like a trap to catch them, plunder them, and kill them.

They’re naturally apprehensive, so they plead their case first to the house steward. Ironically, this would most likely be the position that Joseph himself held in Potiphar’s house. He may not be the “man of the house,” but he most likely has significant influence and authority nonetheless.

The steward’s response throws them off. “Don’t worry,” he says, because the steward was the one who held their money and put more money in their sacks. He knew about it all, so they had no reason to worry.

If there was any doubt to his validity, the steward then brings out Simeon, who has spent the last several months languishing in prison. 

All of the above sentences are facts. There’s no debating the chronology of what happened, since you can read those events for yourself in Genesis 43:16-25

But have you ever stopped to think about what the steward actually said in Genesis 43:23? Instead of just admitting to his involvement in the “money and sack” incident, the steward claims that “Your God and the God of your Father” was the one that “gave them treasure.”

At first glance, this statement seems pretty simple. Until you remember that they’re in Egypt, where the Pharaoh believes himself to be deity.

I am obviously not privy to the conversations between Joseph and his chief steward, but it seems like, from this statement, that the steward has an awareness, and possibly even trust, in the God of Joseph. For a man in this position to make a statement that extols the glory of Jehovah isn’t unique (Pharoah himself said as much in Genesis 39), but it does show Joseph’s influence. 

Throughout Joseph’s life, we’ve seen Joseph constantly give praise to God at every turn. It appears from this interaction that that type of humility has never stopped. The steward quickly recognized God’s involvement before anyone else’s, which shows just how much God was revered in that household.

While the brothers were most likely surprised to see Simeon, find out about the money, and eventually find out Joseph’s true identity, the admission of the Chief Steward’s acknowledgment of God may be the most surprising to us.