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The Steward: Cruel Mind Games: Joseph's steward must have thought his master's mind games to be exceedingly strange
Posted by Douglas, May 21, 2008. 2900 views. ID = 1324

The Steward: Cruel Mind Games

Posted by Douglas, May 21, 2008. 2900 views. ID = 1324
This post was written in 47 minutes.
This post has been awarded 20 stars by 5 readers.
This post is Part 14 of a writing series titled Joseph's Story.

My master is the wisest man who ever lived. This is what I keep telling myself.

His behavior, when dealing with most people, is normal, but put these outland barbarians before him and he becomes completely erratic.

First he tossed them in prison for no reason. Then he let all but one go free. Then he instructed me to take all the money they had paid for grain and put it back in their luggage. And then he required me to, with a straight face, tell them all that the money they found in their sacks must have been a gift from their god.

But all of that pales in comparison to the most recent nonsense he instructed me to participate in. After serving these poor men a sumptuous meal, and treating them like kings, he instructed me to take his silver cup - a chalice of nearly immeasurable value - and put it in the youngest boy's luggage.

Why? I could not imagine why. I longed to ask him, but one does not question the great Zephenath-peneah. Does it amuse him to torment these strangers? I did not know. So I simply stood by and watched as the eleven brothers left the city with their grain, unwittingly carrying our treasures with them. I stood by and waited to see what insane instructions my master would give next.

As the strangers were passing through the city gates, on their way home, my master sent me running after them. "Halt!" I called. "Do not continue a step further!"

The eleven-man caravan halted, and the brothers all stared at me with a combination of frustration, bewilderment, and fear.

"How dare you?" I demanded. "How dare you steal from my master? Do you not know that his silver chalice is one of the most precious items in his treasury? And you have stolen it!"

The brothers were loud and vehement in their denials, and I felt ashamed for the part I was playing in my master's mind games. I had no desire to be part of this cruelty, but a command is a command.

One of the brothers spoke up above all the other voices, "How could you think that we are thieves? When the money appeared in our sacks after our last visit to your land, did we not return it to you? None of us would steal from your master, for we are honest men. If any of us has done this, then let him be put to death, and the rest of us turned to slaves."

"No," I replied, "Only the guilty one shall be made a slave - the rest of you will be free to go. Now open your sacks, and let me see."

Of course the chalice was found in the youngest brother's sack, exactly where I had placed it. The brothers began moaning and weeping and tearing at their clothing, they were so distraught.

"So," I said, trying to ignore their grief, "this youngest troublemaker is the thief. He will return with me and be my master's slave for life." I paused to look at the other ten in turn, and then said, "The rest of you are free to go."

I half expected that the older brothers, given permission to leave, would depart with all haste, for fear that I would change my mind. But they did not. They followed me and their younger brother back to the city, right to the palace.

There they stood before my master and begged for the life and freedom of their younger brother. I have never heard such impassioned pleas in my life. They spoke of their aged father back home who would die of sorrow if his youngest son did not return safely.

Then one of the brothers - Judah, I think his name was - proposed an exchange: "Let my younger brother go free," he begged, "and I will willingly be your slave for the rest of my life."

A life for a life! A brother for a brother! Never have I heard of such love and devotion, and his impassioned plea brought me to the brink of tears. I, who am hardened by years of listening to the hard-luck stories of all manner of scoundrels, was moved by this offer of one life for another.

Yet, in all of this, my master sat unmoved; his expression was like the hardest, unmovable stone. In that moment I despised my master for his indifference, and his cruel treatment of these poor men. What is it about them that inspires such hatred and unfair treatment?

Then, slowly, my master stood from his throne and looked about the great hall. He spoke two words, and his voice sounded strained. Anger? Pity? I could not tell what emotion lay behind the words he spoke: "Leave us."

All who were there with us stared at one another, confused, and began filing out of the hall. Even the guards were sent from the room, leaving my master, the barbarians, and myself. Then my lord looked at me and said, "You too."

"My lord," I began, but he cut off my protest.

"Go," he said, his voice strained with an emotion I could not understand.

As I exited the hall, leaving my master alone with eleven barbarian men, I could not help but think, It would be so easy for those men - left all alone with none to stop them - to overpower my master and kill him.

Then I thought, And I would not blame them if they did.

Copyright 2008 Douglas. All rights reserved. has been granted non-exclusive rights to display this work. For permission to reprint this item, please contact the author.

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This post has been awarded 20 stars by 5 readers.
This post is Part 14 of a writing series titled Joseph's Story. The next part of this series can be found here: Joseph: The Reunion.
This is a revised version of a post. Click here to view the original version

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