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.