Genesis 43:32

And they set on for him by himself, and for them by themselves, and for the Egyptians, which did eat with him, by themselves: because the Egyptians might not eat bread with the Hebrews; for that is an abomination unto the Egyptians.

And they set on for him by himself,.... A table was placed and provisions set upon it in one part of the room for Joseph by himself; which was done either because he was an Hebrew, and the Egyptians might not eat with him, nor he with them; or rather for the sake of grandeur, he being the next man in the kingdom to Pharaoh:

and for them by themselves; another table was placed and spread for Joseph's brethren by themselves, the reason of which is after given:

and for the Egyptians, which did eat with him, by themselves; a third table was laid for such Egyptian noblemen and others, who were at this time Joseph's guests, or used to dine with him:

because the Egyptians might not eat bread with the Hebrews, for that is an abomination unto the Egyptians; the reason of which, as given by the Targums of Onkelos and, Jonathan, is, because the creatures the Egyptians worshipped the Hebrews eat; but it is a question whether such creatures as oxen, sheep, goats, &c. which were eaten by the Hebrews, were so early worshipped by the Egyptians; though they were in later times, and particularly the Apis or ox, which is supposed by many to be worshipped on the account of Joseph, and so after his time; rather the abhorrence the Egyptians had the Hebrews in was on account of their being shepherds, on a political account, they having before this time suffered much by the insurrections and rebellions of such sort of persons among themselves, who set up a kingdom and kings of their own, called the "Hycsi", or pastor kings: or else this difference made between the Egyptians and Hebrews at eating, was not on account of what they did eat, as of the certain rites and customs the Egyptians had peculiar to themselves in dressing their food, and eating it; and therefore would not eat with any of another nation; so that this was not any particular distaste they had to the Hebrews, but was their usage towards men of all nations; for so Herodotus says {c}, that

"no Egyptian, man or woman, might kiss the month of a Greek, or use a knife, or spit, or pot;''

that is, a knife a Greek had cut anything with, or a spit he had roasted meat on, or a pot he had boiled it in; and adds,

"nor might taste of the flesh of an ox, cut with the knife of a Greek.''

And indeed they would not eat nor converse with any of another religion {d}, be they who they would.

{c} Euterpe, sive, l. 2. c. 41.
{d} Chaeremon apud Porphyr. de abstinentia, l. 4. sect. 6.