And he took [and sent] messes unto there from before him
The several dishes were brought before him, who cut them up, and sent to everyone their part and portion, as was usual in those times and countries, and afterwards elsewhere F5, for the master of the family or feast to divide the food into parts, and to give to every guest his part; and these were called, from their being sent, "missus", and from whence seems to be our English word "messes", here used: but Benjamin's mess was five times so much as any of theirs;
which was done out of his great affection to him, being his own brother both by father and mother's side; and, as some think, to try his brethren, how they stood affected to Benjamin, and observe if this did not raise their envy to him, as his father's particular respect to him had raised it in them against himself; and that, if it should, he might provide for his safety, lest they should use him in like manner as they had used him. This undoubtedly was designed as a peculiar favour, and a mark of special honour and respect, it being usual for princes to send messes from their tables to such as they favoured; and particularly it was usual with the Egyptians for their kings to have double messes more than the rest, in honour of them, as Herodotus F6 relates: Benjamin's mess consisted either of five parts, or it was five times bigger than what was sent to the rest; not but that they had all what was sufficient; there was no want to any, but great plenty of everything for them all; nor was this designed Benjamin, that he should eat the larger quantity, only to show him distinguishing respect: and they drank, and were merry with him;
after dinner they drank wine liberally and plentifully, but not to excess and intemperance, yet so as to be cheerful and in good spirits; their fears being all dissipated by this generous entertainment they met with.
F5 Athenaei Deipnosophist. l. 1.
F6 Erato, sive, l. 6. c. 57.