|Noah Webster's Dictionary|
1. (n.) A man employed in a large family, or on a large estate, to manage the domestic concerns, supervise other servants, collect the rents or income, keep accounts, and the like.
2. (n.) A person employed in a hotel, or a club, or on board a ship, to provide for the table, superintend the culinary affairs, etc. In naval vessels, the captain's steward, wardroom steward, steerage steward, warrant officers steward, etc., are petty officers who provide for the messes under their charge.
3. (n.) A fiscal agent of certain bodies; as, a steward in a Methodist church.
4. (n.) In some colleges, an officer who provides food for the students and superintends the kitchen; also, an officer who attends to the accounts of the students.
5. (n.) In Scotland, a magistrate appointed by the crown to exercise jurisdiction over royal lands.
6. (v. t.) To manage as a steward.
Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia
stu'-erd ('ish `al bayith (Genesis 43:16, 19; Genesis 44:1 1 Kings 16:9), ha-meltsar (Daniel 1:11), ha-cokhen (Isaiah 22:15)):
1. Old Testament Usage:
In the King James Version the word "steward" is found in Genesis 15:2 1 Chronicles 28:1, in addition to the above. The American Standard Revised Version renders Genesis 15:2 as "possessor," and 1 Chronicles 28:1 "rulers."
The phrase ben-mesheq in Genesis 15:2 is best rendered "son of acquisition," hence, "heir." But this is disputed. Skinner in the ICC on Genesis regards the text as hopelessly corrupt, and offers no solution of the difficulty. In the other passages, the phrase 'ish `al bayith is conveniently translated "steward," though literally it is "man over the house." The word ha-meltsar in Daniel 1:11 is translated in the King James Version as a proper noun. This is certainly a mistake. The margin gives "the steward," and this is followed in the Revised Version (British and American). A better rendering perhaps would be "overseer," as this man seemed to have the superintendence of the training and feeding of the young men until they were fitted to enter the king's service. He was thus rather a steward of persons than of property (see MELZAR). In Isaiah 22:15 Shebna is described in the text as "treasurer," but in the margin as "steward," and seems to combine the ideas in both the words "treasurer" and "steward." Shebna was thus one of the highest officials, having charge of the city's funds, and of administering them for the city's benefit.
Though the word for "steward" occurs but once in that sense, the idea is one familiar to the Old Testament. Eliezer of Damascus was Abraham's slave and trusted steward. Heseems to have had the oversight of all his affairs and was entrusted with the important duty of getting a wife for Isaac. He apparently had charge over the family of his master as well as his property. Whether Isaac had such a steward or not is nowhere stated, but it is practically certain that he had. Jacob seems to have been Laban's steward for a time, as he apparently had full charge of the flocks and herds of his master. Joseph was practically Potiphar's steward, and when he became Pharaoh's chief minister, he himself had a steward over his own house (Genesis 39:4, 5; Genesis 44:1, 4). The king Elah in his brief reign of two years had a steward in charge of his household (1 Kings 16:9). The same was doubtless true of all the kings, and it may be safely inferred that every household of distinction or of sufficient wealth had a steward in charge. The functions of this officer seem at times to have included the care of the children or minors, as well as of the property. Sometimes he was a slave, sometimes a freedman.
2. In the New Testament:
epitropos, oikonomos. These two terms denote similar positions. The exact difference cannot be clearly defined, as they are sometimes almost synonymous. The two are found together in Galatians 4:2. Some scholars say they are used synonymously, others that the first word is a more general term including the latter. Lightfoot and Ellicott think that the former refers rather to the guardianship of persons, the child's legal representative, while the latter word refers to the head servant appointed to manage the household or property (compare 2 Maccabees 11:1; 13:2). There would, however, not be any such hard-and-fast line between their respective duties; these might vary with every master, or might be combined in one individual.
(1) In the Gospels.
The idea seems to have been perfectly familiar to the people in Christ's day. Every household of distinction seems to have had a steward in charge, Herod's steward was named Chuzas, and his wife, Joanna, followed and ministered to Jesus (Luke 8:3). The word epitropos used here is held by some scholars to imply that he had charge of the education of Herod's children. This is very probable but not certain. In the parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard, it is the steward who pays the laborers at the close of the day (Matthew 20:8). The parable of the Unjust Steward best illustrates the practice. This steward was a freeman, had full charge of his master's affairs and could use them to his own advantage if he chose, was fully accountable to his master and had to render an account when called upon. If unfaithful he was usually discharged at once (Luke 16:1-13). The parables of the Minae or Pounds (Luke 19:12-27), the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), and the Wicked Husbandmen (Matthew 21:33-46) teach similar truths. In His warning to His disciples Jesus seems to imply that they were to act as stewards in His absence (Luke 12:42). According to this passage a steward's task was to manage all the affairs of his master, attend to receipts and expenditures, and portion out to each one of the household what should come to him. The disciples were left thus in charge of His gospel and were to use this gift to the best advantage in behalf of others until His return. In John 2:8 the term "ruler" is given in the margin as "steward." The one referred to here was really director of the feast rather than steward, though in a sense charged with the responsibility of conducting it. Many stewards were no doubt slaves, as is implied in Matthew 24:45, while others were freedmen (Luke 16:1-21).
(2) In the Epistles.
The application of this term is largely confined to the ministry of the gospel. Paul and his fellow-laborers regarded themselves as stewards of the mysteries of God (1 Corinthians 4:1, 2). The idea is that he take scrupulous care of that which was entrusted to him, and give it out to others faithfully and as directed by his master Jesus Christ. A bishop or overseer is to be as God's steward (Titus 1:7). Peter considered himself and all other Christians as "stewards of the manifold grace of God" (1 Peter 4:10). The prevalence of the custom of having guardians and stewards over children in their minority is shown in Galatians 4:2. The difference in meaning of the two words used here is stated above. In Romans 16:23 Erastus is called the oikonomos of the city. This is best translated "treasurer." Erastus was thus an influential member of the community of Corinth and evidently a faithful Christian.
James Josiah Reeve
Steward (23 Occurrences)
Matthew 20:8 So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. (KJV WEY ASV DBY WBS YLT RSV)
Luke 8:3 and Joanna, the wife of Chuzas, Herod's steward; Susanna; and many others; who served them from their possessions. (WEB KJV WEY ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV)
Luke 12:42 The Lord said, "Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his lord will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the right times? (WEB KJV WEY ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV)
Luke 16:1 And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods. (KJV WEY ASV DBY WBS YLT RSV)
Luke 16:2 And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward. (Root in KJV WEY ASV DBY WBS YLT RSV)
Luke 16:3 Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed. (KJV WEY ASV DBY WBS YLT RSV)
Luke 16:6 "'A hundred firkins of oil,' he replied. "'Here is your account,' said the steward: 'sit down quickly and change it into fifty firkins.' (WEY)
Luke 16:8 And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. (KJV WEY ASV DBY WBS YLT RSV)
John 2:8 Then he said to them, Now take some, and give it to the master of the feast. So they took it to him. (See RSV)
John 2:9 And as the director of the apartment tasted the water become wine, and knew not whence it is, (but the ministrants knew, who have drawn the water,) the director of the feast doth call the bridegroom, (See RSV)
Romans 16:23 Gaius, my host and of the whole assembly, salutes you. Erastus, the steward of the city, salutes you, and the brother Quartus. (DBY YLT)
Genesis 15:2 And Abram said, LORD God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? (KJV DBY WBS)
Genesis 43:16 When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the steward of his house, "Bring the men into the house, and butcher an animal, and make ready; for the men will dine with me at noon." (WEB JPS ASV NAS RSV NIV)
Genesis 43:19 They came near to the steward of Joseph's house, and they spoke to him at the door of the house, (WEB KJV JPS ASV WBS NAS RSV NIV)
Genesis 44:1 He commanded the steward of his house, saying, "Fill the men's sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put every man's money in his sack's mouth. (WEB KJV JPS ASV WBS NAS RSV NIV)
Genesis 44:4 When they had gone out of the city, and were not yet far off, Joseph said to his steward, "Up, follow after the men. When you overtake them, ask them,'Why have you rewarded evil for good? (WEB KJV JPS ASV WBS NAS RSV NIV)
2 Samuel 16:1 And when David was a little past the top, behold, Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth met him, with a couple of asses saddled, and upon them two hundred loaves of bread, and a hundred clusters of raisins, and a hundred of summer fruits, and a bottle of wine. (See NIV)
2 Samuel 19:17 There were a thousand men of Benjamin with him, and Ziba the servant of the house of Saul, and his fifteen sons and his twenty servants with him; and they went through the Jordan in the presence of the king. (See NIV)
1 Kings 16:9 And his servant Zimri, captain of half his chariots, conspired against him, as he was in Tirzah, drinking himself drunk in the house of Arza steward of his house in Tirzah. (KJV DBY WBS)
1 Kings 18:3 And Ahab called Obadiah, who was the steward of his house (now Obadiah feared Jehovah greatly; (DBY)
Isaiah 22:15 Thus saith the Lord, Jehovah of hosts, Go, get thee unto this treasurer, even unto Shebna, who is over the house, and say , (See JPS DBY YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Daniel 1:11 Then said Daniel to the steward whom the prince of the eunuchs had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: (WEB JPS ASV DBY RSV)
Daniel 1:16 So the steward took away their dainties, and the wine that they should drink, and gave them pulse. (WEB JPS ASV DBY RSV)