(אָכִל akal', Ge 43:16; elsewhere to "eat" or "devour;" ἀριστάω, Lu 11:37; Joh 21:12,15); DINNER (אֲרֻחָה, aruchah', Pr 15:17; elsewhere "allowance," 2Ki 25:30; "victuals," Jer 40:5; "diet," Jer 52:34; ἄριστον, Mt 22:4; Lu 11:38; Lu 14:12). These Hebrews terms are not expressive of any particular meal, although in the passage first cited the noon meal is referred to. The Greek terms (both kindred to ῏ηρι, early) relate properly to the morning meal, taken originally at sunrise (Homer, Il. 24:124; Od. 16:2); in later times, the breakfast lunch, Lat. prandium, taken about the middle of the forenoon, or even so late as noon; the principal meal being the δεῖπνον, rendered "supper" (q.v.), taken later in the afternoon or early in the evening. SEE MEAL.
It appears that it was the custom in Egypt, in great families, to dine 'at noon, and for this purpose the meat was slaughtered on the premises only just before it was required for cooking (Ge 43:16), which is still the custom in the East on account of the heat of the climate. It is probable, however, that the Egyptians, like other inhabitants of the East, as also the Greeks and Romans, took only a slight dinner about this time, the principal meal being at six or seven in the evening. Feasts at a later period among the Jews were always appointed at supper-time, for the burning heat of noon diminished the appetite for food, and suppressed the disposition to cheerfulness (Mr 6:21; Lu 14:24; Joh 12:2). A considerable quantity of meat was served up at these repasts, as is evident from the sculptures, which is still the custom of Eastern nations, whose azuma, or feast, is remarkable for the unsparing profusion of viands. A great variety of vegetables was also required on all occasions; and when dining in private, dishes of that kind seem to have been in greater request than joints, even at the tables of the rich. The tables, as at a Roman repast, were occasionally brought in and removed with the dishes on them; sometimes each joint was served up separately, and the fruit, deposited in a plate, or trencher, succeeded the meat at the close of the dinner. The Egyptians, like the Jews, were particularly fond of figs and grapes. Fresh dates, when in season, and in a dried state at other periods of the year, were also brought to table, as well as a preserve of the fruit still common in Egypt and Arabia (Wilkinson, Anc. Egypt. 1; 179 sq., abridgm.). SEE BANQUET.