Easton's Bible Dictionary
son of my right hand.
The younger son of Jacob by Rachel ( Genesis 35:18 ). His birth took place at
Ephrath, on the road between Bethel and Bethlehem, at a short distance from the
latter place. His mother died in giving him birth, and with her last breath named
him Ben-oni, son of my pain, a name which was changed by his father into Benjamin.
His posterity are called Benjamites ( Genesis 49:27 ; Deuteronomy 33:12 ; Joshua
The tribe of Benjamin at the Exodus was the smallest but one ( Numbers 1:36 ,
1:37 ; Psalms 68:27 ). During the march its place was along with Manasseh and
Ephraim on the west of the tabernacle. At the entrance into Canaan it counted
45,600 warriors. It has been inferred by some from the words of Jacob ( Genesis
49:27 ) that the figure of a wolf was on the tribal standard. This tribe is mentioned
in Romans 11:1 ; Philippians 3:5 .
The inheritance of this tribe lay immediately to the south of that of Ephraim,
and was about 26 miles in length and 12 in breadth. Its eastern boundary was the
Jordan. Dan intervened between it and the Philistines. Its chief towns are named
in Joshua 18:21 - 28 .
The history of the tribe contains a sad record of a desolating civil war in which
they were engaged with the other eleven tribes. By it they were almost exterminated
( Judges 20:20 , 20:21 ; 21:10 ). (See GIBEAH)
The first king of the Jews was Saul, a Benjamite. A close alliance was formed
between this tribe and that of Judah in the time of David ( 2 Samuel 19:16 , 19:17
), which continued after his death ( 1 Kings 11:13 ; 12:20 ). After the Exile
these two tribes formed the great body of the Jewish nation ( Ezra 1:5 ; 10:9
The tribe of Benjamin was famous for its archers ( 1 Samuel 20:20 , 20:36 ; 2
Samuel 1:22 ; 1 Chronicles 8:40 ; 12:2 ) and slingers (Judges 20:6 ).
The gate of Benjamin, on the north side of Jerusalem ( Jeremiah 37:13 ; 38:7 ;
Zechariah 14:10 ), was so called because it led in the direction of the territory
of the tribe of Benjamin. It is called by ( Jeremiah 20:2 ) "the high gate of
Benjamin;" also "the gate of the children of the people" ( 17:19 ). (Compare 2
Kings 14:13 .)
Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names
son of the right hand
Smith's Bible Dictionary
(son of the right hand, fortunate)
(1) The youngest of the children of Jacob. His birth took place on the road between
Bethel and Bethlehem, near the latter, B.C. 1729. His mother, Rachel, died in
the act of giving him birth, naming him with her last breath Ben-oni (son of my
sorrow ). This was by Jacob changed into Benjamin. ( Genesis 35:16 , 35:18 ) Until
the journeys of Jacobs sons and Jacob himself into Egypt we hear nothing of Benjamin.
Nothing personal is known of him. Henceforward the history of Benjamin is the
history of the tribe.
(2) A man of the tribe of Benjamin, son of bilhan, and the head of a family of
warriors. ( 1 Chronicles 7:10 )
(3) One of the "sons of Harim," an Israelite in the time of Ezra who had married
a foreign wife. ( Ezra 10:32 )
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
ben'-ja-min (binyamin, or binyamin; Beniaein, Beniamin):
(1) Patriarch (2) Tribe (3) Territory
1. The Patriarch:
The youngest of Jacob's sons. His mother Rachel died in giving him birth. As she
felt death approaching she called him Benoni, "son of my sorrow." Fearing, probably,
that this might bode evil for the child--for names have always preserved a peculiar
significance in the East--Jacob called him Benjamin, "son of the fight hand" (Genesis
35:17). He alone of Jacob's sons was born in Palestine, between Bethel and Ephrath.
Later in the chapter, in the general enumeration of the children born in Paddan-ar
am, the writer fails to except Benjamin (Genesis 35:24). Joseph was his full brother.
In the history where Benjamin appears as an object of solicitude to his father
and brothers, we must not forget that he was already a grown man. At the time
of the descent of Israel to Egypt Joseph was about 40 years of age. Benjamin was
not much younger, and was himself the father of a family. The phrase in Genesis
44:20, "a little one," only describes in oriental fashion one much younger than
the speaker. And as the youngest of the family no doubt he was made much of. Remorse
over their heartless treatment of his brother Joseph may have made the other brothers
especially tender toward Benjamin. The conduct of his brethren all through the
trying experiences in Egypt places them in a more attractive light than we should
have expected; and it must have been a gratification to their father (Genesis
42). Ten sons of Benjamin are named at the time of their settlement in Egypt (Genesis
2. The Tribe:
At the Exodus the number of men of war in the tribe is given as 35,400. At the
second census it is 45,600 (Numbers 1:37 ; 26:41). Their place in the host was
with the standard of the camp of Ephraim on the west of the tabernacle, their
prince being Abidan the son of Gideoni (Numbers 2:22). Benjamin was represented
among the spies by Palti the son of Raphu; and at the division of the land the
prince of Benjamin was Elidad the son of Chislon (Numbers 13:9 ; 34:21).
The boundaries of the lot that fell to Benjamin are pretty clearly indicated (Joshua
18:11). It lay between Ephraim on the North and Judah on the South. The northern
frontier started from the Jordan over against Jericho, and ran to the north of
that town up through the mountain westward past Bethaven, taking in Bethel. It
then went down by Ataroth-addar to Beth- horon the nether. From this point the
western frontier ran southward to Kiriath-jearim. The southern boundary ran from
Kiriath-jearim eas tward to the fountain of the waters of Netophah, swept round
by the south of Jerrus and passed down through the wilderness northern by shore
of the Dead Sea at the mouth of the Jordan. The river formed the eastern boundary.
The lot was comparatively small. This, according to Josephus, was owing to "the
goodness of the land" (Ant., V, i, 22); a description that would apply mainly
to the plans of Jericho. The uplands are stony, mountainous, and poor in water;
but there is much good land on the western slopes.
4. Importance of Position:
It will be seen from the above that Benjamin held the main avenues of approach
to the highlands from both East and West: that by which Joshua led Israel past
Ai from Gilgal, and the longer and easier ascents from the West, notably that
along which the tides of battle so often rolled, the Valley of Aijalon, by way
of the Beth-horons. Benjamin also sat astride the great highway connecting North
and South, which ran along the ridge of the western range, in the district where
it was easiest of defense. It was a position calling for occupation by a brave
and warlike tribe such as Benjamin proved to be. His warriors were skillful archers
and slingers, and they seem to have cultivated the use of both hands, which gave
them a great advantage in battle (Judges 20:16 ; 1 Chronicles 8:40 ; 12:2, etc.).
These characteristics are reflected in the Blessing of Jacob (Genesis 49:27).
The second deliverer of Israel in the period of the Judges was Ehud, the left-handed
Benjamite (Judges 3:15).
The Benjamites fought against Sisera under Deborah and Barak (Judges 5:14). The
story told in Judges 20:21 presents many difficulties which cannot be discussed
here. It is valuable as preserving certain features of life in these lawless times
when there was no details in Israel. Whatever may be said of the details, it certainly
reflects the memory of some atrocity in which the Benjamites were involved and
for which they suffered terrible punishment. The election of Saul as first king
over united Israel naturally lent a certain prestige to the tribe. After the death
of Saul they formed the backbone of Ish- bosheth's party, and most unwillingly
conceded precedence to Judah in the person of David (2 Samuel 2:15 , 25 ; 3:17).
It was a Benjamite who heaped curses upon David in the hour of his deep humiliation
(2 Samuel 16:5); and the jealousy of Benjamin led to the revolt on David's return,
which was so effectually stamped out by Joab (2 Samuel 19). Part of the tribe,
probably the larger part, went against Judah at the disruption of the kingdom,
taking Bethel with them. 1 Kings 12:20 says that none followed the house of David
but the house of Judah only. But the next verse tells us that Rehoboam gathered
the men of Judah and Benjamin to fight against Jeroboam. It seems probable that
as Jerusalem had now become the royal city of the house of David, the adjoining
parts of Benjamin proved loyal, while the more distant joined the Northern Kingdom.
After the downfall of Samaria Judah assumed control of practically the whole territory
of Benjamin (2 Kings 23:15 , 19 , etc.). Nehemiah gives the Valley of Hinnom as
the south boundary of Benjamin in his time (Nehemiah 11:30), while westward it
extended to include Lod and Ono. Saul of Tarsus was a member of this tribe (Philippians
(4) A great-grandson of Benjamin, son of Jacob (1 Chronicles 7:10).
(5) One of those who had married a foreign wife (Ezra 10:32, and probably also Nehemiah 3:23 ; 12:34).
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