Did the Egyptians know that Joseph was a Hebrew?

In the Genesis story of Joseph, he has been living in Egypt for many years after being sold by his brothers to traders. He has risen in wisdom, stature and favour with God and men (great typology of Jesus!) and his brothers have finally travelled to Egypt to ask for provisions since there is famine. Joseph does not reveal his true identity to them for some time. In Genesis 43:32, in describing Joseph’s meal with his brothers, it says:

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.

This idea of the abominable status of Hebrews to the Egyptians is reinforced elsewhere:

Exodus 8:26 (ESV): But Moses said, “It would not be right to do so, for the offerings we shall sacrifice to the Lord our God are an abomination to the Egyptians. If we sacrifice offerings abominable to the Egyptians before their eyes, will they not stone us?

Genesis 46:34 (ESV): you shall say, ‘Your servants have been keepers of livestock from our youth even until now, both we and our fathers,’ in order that you may dwell in the land of Goshen, for every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians.”

It makes me wonder then: did the Pharoah know that Joseph was Hebrew when he alotted power to him? Previously in Gen 41:45, Pharaoh gives Joseph an Egyptian name, possibly as a cultural thing, but might it also to have removed some of his Hebrewness?

Another thought I have in this first passage is that Joseph eats separately, his brothers eat separately and the Egyptians eat separately. Does Joseph perhaps not fit into either Hebrew or Eyptian group sufficiently?

What are people’s thoughts on this?


Gen.41:12 answers this in the affirmative.

The Hebrews separated from the Egyptians is a cultural thing. Joseph separated from His brothers may just be segregation based on social standing since Joseph has not yet revealed his true identity and relation with the “guests”.

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