Genesis 43:32 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 43:32, NIV: They served him by himself, the brothers by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, because Egyptians could not eat with Hebrews, for that is detestable to Egyptians.

Genesis 43:32, ESV: They served him by himself, and them by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, because the Egyptians could not eat with the Hebrews, for that is an abomination to the Egyptians.

Genesis 43:32, KJV: 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.

Genesis 43:32, NASB: Then they served him by himself, and Joseph’s brothers by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves; because the Egyptians could not eat bread with the Hebrews, for that is an abomination to the Egyptians.

Genesis 43:32, NLT: The waiters served Joseph at his own table, and his brothers were served at a separate table. The Egyptians who ate with Joseph sat at their own table, because Egyptians despise Hebrews and refuse to eat with them.

Genesis 43:32, CSB: They served him by himself, his brothers by themselves, and the Egyptians who were eating with him by themselves, because Egyptians could not eat with Hebrews, since that is detestable to them.

What does Genesis 43:32 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Though his brothers still do not recognize him (Genesis 42:8), Joseph is treating them as honored guests. He is now the second most powerful man in Egypt (Genesis 41:44). As part of his testing and reuniting with the family who sold him into slavery (Genesis 37:24–28), Joseph is hosting a banquet for them (Genesis 43:16–25). The noon meal is served to three distinct groups, who all sit separately. First, Joseph sits and eats alone. The brothers sit together. Finally, the Egyptians sharing in the meal sit in a third grouping.

Apparently, Egyptian custom did not allow for sharing a table with Hebrews or perhaps any foreigners (Genesis 46:34). Joseph's seating might be for that reason: the Egyptians know he is a Hebrew. However, Joseph was also well-integrated into Egyptian society (Genesis 41:42, 45, 50), so this might not have been an issue for him. Another possibility is that Joseph was seated separately as a sign of his status and power. Perhaps he could not be seated with "common" people, even Egyptians.

Regardless of the exact reasons, all these men are in the same room, but likely at entirely separate tables. Joseph will test them, in a sense, by greatly favoring Benjamin (Genesis 43:34), perhaps gauging their reaction.