||[Joseph] was served by himself, and [the brothers] by themselves. The Egyptians who were eating with them [were also] segregated. The Egyptians could not eat with the Hebrews, since this was taboo to the Egyptians.
Vayasimu lo levado velahem levadam vela-Mitsrim ha'ochlim ito levadam ki lo yuchlun haMitsrim le'echol et-ha'Ivrim lechem ki-to'evah hi le-Mitsrayim.
||When [the brothers] were seated before [Joseph], they were placed in order of age, from the oldest to the youngest. The brothers looked at each other in amazement.
Vayeshvu lefanav habechor kivechorato vehatsa'ir kitse'irato vayitmehu ha'anashim ish el-re'ehu.
|this was taboo...|
The Egyptians were very careful about eating with strangers (see note on Genesis 39:6). This was because the Hebrews ate sheep, and hence their mouths and utensils were considered contaminated, since sheep were sacred to the Egyptians (Targum; Sekhel Tov). Cf. Genesis 46:34, Exodus 8:22. Actually, only the female animals were sacred (Herodotus 2:41).