What does Genesis 43:23 mean?Joseph's brothers fear his steward is leading them into an ambush, for the supposed crime of stealing back money used to buy grain on their previous visit (Genesis 43:18). They have just finished explaining that they don't know how the money got in their packs, but they have brought it and intend to pay it back (Genesis 43:19–22).
The steward responds in a surprising way. First, he assures the brothers that they are not in trouble. He tells them it was God—the God worshipped by these men and their father—who returned the money in their bags. The steward insists that he received the money. That is, he knows the men paid him, and he never thought they had stolen anything (Genesis 42:26–28).
This is both strange and meaningful. Of course, the steward knows he put the money back in their packs at Joseph's command (Genesis 42:25). Still, he gives credit to God for returning it. This is not likely a lie, but simply the steward following Joseph's command. Most likely, the steward sees himself as the means by which their God accomplished His will. At this point, of course, the brothers have no idea that the Egyptian governor is Joseph (Genesis 42:8).
Such mysteries aside, the steward's explanation fits the theme of Joseph's story: God accomplishes His will in unexpected and sometimes startling ways.
When the brothers left from their first trip, they were forced to leave one of their number behind as collateral (Genesis 42:19–20; 24). As the steward is reassuring them, he also releases their brother Simeon to them. This would have been an immense relief, and a powerful sign that no harm was coming to the men.