Benjamin

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Benjamin
בִּנְיָמִין
Benjamin LACMA M.88.91.296L.jpg
PronunciationBiniamin
Born11 Cheshvan
ChildrenBela (son)

Beker (son)
Ashbel (son)
Gera (son)
Naaman (son)
Ehi (son)
Rosh (son)
Muppim (son)
Huppim (son)
Ard (son)

Contents

[1]
Parents
Relatives Reuben (half brother)

Simeon (half brother)
Levi (half brother)
Judah (half brother)
Issachar (half brother)
Zebulun (half brother)
Dan (half brother)
Naphtali (half brother)
Gad (half brother)
Asher (half brother)
Joseph (brother)

Dinah (half sister)

Benjamin (Hebrew : בנימין, "Son of the right side") was the last-born of Jacob's thirteen children (12 sons and 1 daughter), and the second and last son of Rachel in Jewish, Christian and Islamic tradition. He was the progenitor of the Israelite Tribe of Benjamin. In the Hebrew Bible unlike Rachel's first son, Joseph, Benjamin was born in Canaan.

In the Samaritan Pentateuch, Benjamin's name appears as "Binyaamem" (Hebrew : בנימים, "Son of my days"). In the Quran, Benjamin is referred to as righteous young child, who remained with Jacob when the older brothers plotted against Joseph. Later rabbinic traditions name him as one of four ancient Israelites who died without sin, the other three being Chileab, Jesse and Amram.

Name

According to the Hebrew Bible, Benjamin's name arose when Jacob deliberately changed the name "Benoni", the original name of Benjamin, since Benoni was an allusion to Rachel's dying just after she had given birth, as it means "son of my pain". [2] Textual scholars regard these two names as fragments of naming narratives coming from different sources - one being the Jahwist and the other being the Elohist. [3]

Unusually for one of the 12 tribes of Israel, the Bible does not explain the etymology of Benjamin's name. Medieval commentator Rashi gives two different explanations, based on Midrashic sources. "Son of the south", with south derived from the word for the right hand side, referring to the birth of Benjamin in Canaan, as compared with the birth of all the other sons of Jacob in Aram. [4] [5] Modern scholars have proposed that "son of the south" / "right" is a reference to the tribe being subordinate to the more dominant tribe of Ephraim. [5] Alternatively, Rashi suggests it means "son of days", meaning a son born in Jacob's old age. The Samaritan Pentateuch consistently spells his name "בן ימים", with a terminal mem, ("Binyamim"), which could be translated literally as "spirit man" but is in line with the interpretation that the name was a reference to the advanced age of Jacob when Benjamin was born. [5]

According to classical rabbinical sources, Benjamin was only born after Rachel had fasted for a long time, as a religious devotion with the hope of a new child as a reward. By then Jacob had become over 100 years old. [5] Benjamin is treated as a young child in most of the Biblical narrative, [5] but at one point is abruptly described as the father of ten sons. [6] Textual scholars believe that this is the result of the genealogical passage, in which his children are named, being from a much later source than the Jahwist and Elohist narratives, which make up most of the Joseph narrative, and which consistently describe Benjamin as a child. [5]

Israelites in Egypt

Benjamin (right) embracing his brother Joseph. BenjaminandJoseph.jpg
Benjamin (right) embracing his brother Joseph.

The Torah's Joseph narrative, at a stage when Joseph is unrecognised by his brothers, describes Joseph as testing whether his brothers have reformed by secretly planting a silver cup in Benjamin's bag. Then, publicly searching the bags for it, and after finding it in Benjamin's possession, demanding that Benjamin become his slave as a punishment. [7]

The narrative goes on to state that when Judah (on behalf of the other brothers) begged Joseph not to enslave Benjamin and instead enslave him, since enslavement of Benjamin would break Jacob's heart. This caused Joseph to recant and reveal his identity. [7] The midrashic book of Jasher argues that prior to revealing his identity, Joseph asked Benjamin to find his missing brother (i.e. Joseph) via astrology, using an astrolabe-like tool. [5] It continues by stating that Benjamin divined that the man on the throne was Joseph, so Joseph identified himself to Benjamin (but not the other brothers), and revealed his scheme (as in the Torah) to test how fraternal the other brothers were. [5]

Some classical rabbinical sources argue that Joseph identified himself for other reasons. [5] In these sources, Benjamin swore an oath, on the memory of Joseph, that he was innocent of theft, and, when challenged about how believable the oath would be, explained that remembering Joseph was so important to him that he had named his sons in Joseph's honour. [5] These sources go on to state that Benjamin's oath touched Joseph so deeply that Joseph was no longer able to pretend to be a stranger. [5]

An illustration from the Morgan Bible of Benjamin being returned to Egypt (Genesis 44). Morgan-bible-fl06.jpg
An illustration from the Morgan Bible of Benjamin being returned to Egypt (Genesis 44).

In the narrative, just prior to this test, when Joseph had first met all of his brothers (but not identified himself to them), he had held a feast for them; [8] the narrative heavily implies that Benjamin was Joseph's favorite brother, since he is overcome with tears when he first meets Benjamin in particular, [9] and he gives Benjamin five times as much food as he apportions to the others. [10] According to textual scholars, this is really the Jahwist's account of the reunion after Joseph identifies himself, and the account of the threat to enslave Benjamin is just the Elohist's version of the same event, with the Elohist being more terse about Joseph's emotions towards Benjamin, merely mentioning that Benjamin was given five times as many gifts as the others. [5]

Origin

An exterior view of a Mamluk caravanserai complex, including the mausoleum of Nabi Yamin, traditionally believed to be the tomb of Benjamin, located outside Kfar Saba, Israel. Kever Binyamin.jpg
An exterior view of a Mamluk caravanserai complex, including the mausoleum of Nabi Yamin, traditionally believed to be the tomb of Benjamin, located outside Kfar Saba, Israel.

Biblical scholars believe, due to their geographic overlap and their treatment in older passages, that Ephraim and Manasseh were originally considered one tribe, that of Joseph. [11] According to several biblical scholars, Benjamin was also originally part of this single tribe, but the biblical account of Joseph as his father became lost. [11] [12]

The description of Benjamin being born after the arrival in Canaan is thought by some scholars to refer to the tribe of Benjamin coming into existence by branching from the Joseph group after the tribe had settled in Canaan. [12] A number of biblical scholars suspect that the distinction of the Joseph tribes (including Benjamin) is that they were the only Israelites which went to Egypt and returned, while the main Israelite tribes simply emerged as a subculture from the Canaanites and had remained in Canaan throughout. [12] [13]

According to this view, the story of Jacob's visit to Laban to obtain a wife originated as a metaphor for this migration, with the property and family which were gained from Laban representing the gains of the Joseph tribes by the time they returned from Egypt. [12] According to textual scholars, the Jahwist version of the Laban narrative only mentions the Joseph tribes, and Rachel, and does not mention the other tribal matriarchs whatsoever. [12] [14]

Benjamin's sons

According to Genesis 46:21, Benjamin had ten sons: Bela, Becher, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Ehi, Rosh, Muppim, Huppim, and Ard. The name of his wife/wives are not given, but the Book of Jubilees calls his wife Ijasaka and the Book of Jasher [ disambiguation needed ] mentions two wives, Mechalia the daughter of Aram and Aribath the daughter of Shomron. [15] [16] The classical rabbinical tradition adds that each son's name honors Joseph: [5]

There is a disparity between the list given in Genesis 46 and that in Numbers 46:38-41, where the sons of Benjamin are listed along with the tribes they are the progenitors of.

Becher, Gera, Ehi, and Rosh are omitted from the second list. Ard and Naaman, who are the sons of Benjamin according to Genesis 46, are listed as the sons of Belah and are the progenitors of the Ardites and the Naamites respectively.

In Islam

Though not named in the Quran, [17] Benjamin is referred to as the righteous youngest son of Jacob, in the narrative of Joseph in Islamic tradition. Apart from that, however, Islamic tradition does not provide much detail regarding Benjamin's life, and refers to him as being born from Jacob's wife Rachel. As with Jewish tradition, it also further links a connection between the names of Benjamin's children and Joseph. [18]

See also

Citations

  1. Genesis 46:21
  2. Genesis 35:18
  3. Richard Elliott Friedman, Who wrote the Bible?
  4. https://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/8230/jewish/Chapter-35.htm#showrashi=true
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Jewish Encyclopedia
  6. Genesis 46:21
  7. 1 2 Genesis 44
  8. Genesis 43
  9. Genesis 43:30
  10. Genesis 43:34
  11. 1 2 Jewish Encyclopedia, Ephraim
  12. 1 2 3 4 5 Peake's Commentary on the Bible
  13. Israel Finkelstein, The Bible Unearthed
  14. Richard Elliott Friedman, Who Wrote the Bible?
  15. https://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/apo/jasher/45.htm
  16. https://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/jub/jub69.htm
  17. Quran   12:4–102
  18. Vajda, G.; Wensick, A. J. Binyamin. I. Encyclopaedia of Islam.

Related Research Articles

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According to the Hebrew Bible, the Tribe of Ephraim was one of the Tribes of Israel. The Tribe of Manasseh together with Ephraim formed the House of Joseph. It is one of the ten lost tribes. The etymology of the name is disputed.

According to the Hebrew Bible, the Tribe of Manasseh was one of the Tribes of Israel. It is one of the ten lost tribes. Together with the Tribe of Ephraim, Manasseh also formed the House of Joseph.

Joseph (Genesis) Biblical figure, son of Jacob/Israel and Rachel

Joseph is an important figure in the Bible's Book of Genesis.

Judah (son of Jacob) figure in the Hebrew Bible

Judah was, according to the Book of Genesis, the fourth son of Jacob and Leah, the founder of the Israelite Tribe of Judah. By extension, he is indirectly eponymous of the Kingdom of Judah, the land of Judea and the word "Jew".

Asher, in the Book of Genesis, is the second son of Jacob and Zilpah, and the founder of the Tribe of Asher.

The Tribe of Joseph is one of the Tribes of Israel in biblical tradition. Since Ephraim and Manasseh together traditionally constituted the tribe of Joseph, it was often not listed as one of the tribes, in favour of Ephraim and Manasseh being listed in its place; consequently it was often termed the House of Joseph, to avoid the use of the term tribe. According to the Targum Pseudo-Jonathan, the ensign of both the House of Joseph and the Tribe of Benjamin was the figure of a boy, with the inscription: the cloud of the Lord rested on them until they went forth out of the camp. There were obvious linguistic differences between at least one portion of Joseph and the other Israelite tribes. At the time when Ephraim were at war with the Israelites of Gilead, under the leadership of Jephthah, the pronunciation of shibboleth as sibboleth was considered sufficient evidence to single out individuals from Ephraim, so that they could be subjected to immediate death by the Israelites of Gilead.

According to the Bible, the Tribe of Levi is one of the tribes of Israel, traditionally descended from Levi, son of Jacob. The descendants of Aaron, who was the first kohen gadol of Israel, were designated as the priestly class, the Kohanim.

Issachar/Yiśśachar was, according to the Book of Exodus, a son of Jacob and Leah, and the founder of the Israelite Tribe of Issachar. However, some Biblical scholars view this as an eponymous metaphor providing an aetiology of the connectedness of the tribe to others in the Israelite confederation.

Ephraim Biblical character

Ephraim ; was, according to the Book of Genesis, the second son of Joseph and Asenath. Asenath was an Egyptian woman who Pharaoh gave to Joseph as wife, and the daughter of Potipherah, a priest of On. Ephraim was born in Egypt before the arrival of the children of Israel from Canaan.

Laban (Bible) Biblical figure

Laban is a figure in the Book of Genesis of the Hebrew Bible. He was the brother of Rebekah, who married Isaac and bore Jacob. Laban welcomed his nephew as a young man, and set him the stipulation of seven years' labour before he permitted him to marry his daughter Rachel. Laban tricked Jacob into marrying his elder daughter Leah instead. Jacob then took both women as wives.

Reuben (son of Jacob) eldest son of Jacob with Leah, in the Bible

According to the Book of Genesis, Reuben or Re'uven was the eldest son of Jacob and Leah. He was the founder of the Israelite Tribe of Reuben.

Elohist One of the four sources of the Torah in the documentary hypothesis

According to the documentary hypothesis, the Elohist is one of four source documents underlying the Torah, together with the Jahwist, the Deuteronomist and the Priestly source. The Elohist is so named because of its pervasive use of the word Elohim to refer to the Israelite god.

Jahwist one of the sources of the Torah in the documentary hypothesis, dated to the Babylonian captivity or later; uses the name YHWH throughout, anthropomorphizes God physically/mentally, focuses on the Kingdom of Judah, and supports the Davidic monarchy

The Jahwist, or Yahwist, often abbreviated J, is one of the most widely recognized sources of the Pentateuch (Torah), together with the Deuteronomist and the Priestly source. The existence of the Jahwist is somewhat controversial, with a number of scholars, especially in Europe, denying that it ever existed as a coherent independent document. Nevertheless, most scholars do assume its existence, and date its composition to the period of the Babylonian captivity or perhaps somewhat later. The Jahwist is so named because of its characteristic use of the term Yahweh for God.

Zebulun was, according to the Books of Genesis and Numbers, the sixth and last son of Jacob and Leah, and the founder of the Israelite Tribe of Zebulun. Some biblical scholars believe this to be an eponymous metaphor providing an aetiology of the connectedness of the tribe to others in the Israelite confederation. With Leah as a matriarch, biblical scholars believe the tribe to have been regarded by the text's authors as a part of the original Israelite confederation.

Gad (son of Jacob) biblical character, son of Jacob

Gad was, according to the Book of Genesis, the first son of Jacob and Zilpah, the seventh of Jacob overall, and the founder of the Israelite Tribe of Gad. However some Biblical scholars view this as postdiction, an eponymous metaphor providing an aetiology of the connectedness of the tribe to others in the Israelite confederation. The text of the Book of Genesis implies that the name of Gad means luck/fortunate, in Hebrew.

Twelve Tribes of Israel Tribes descended from the 12 sons of Jacob in the Hebrew Bible

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According to the Book of Genesis, Simeon was the second son of Jacob and Leah, and the founder of the Israelite Tribe of Simeon. However, some Biblical scholars view this as postdiction, an eponymous metaphor providing an etiology of the connectedness of the tribe to others in the Israelite confederation. With Leah as a matriarch, Biblical scholars regard the tribe as having been believed by the text's authors to have been part of the original Israelite confederation, however, the tribe is absent from the parts of the Bible which textual scholars regard as the oldest, and some scholars think that Simeon was not originally regarded as a distinct tribe.

Manasseh (tribal patriarch) biblical figure

Manasseh or Menashe was, according to the Book of Genesis, the first son of Joseph and Asenath. Asenath was an Egyptian woman whom Pharaoh gave to Joseph as wife, and the daughter of Potipherah, a priest of On. Manasseh was born in Egypt before the arrival of the children of Israel from Canaan.

Rachel Biblical character

Rachel was a Biblical figure, the favorite of Jacob's two wives, and the mother of Joseph and Benjamin, two of the twelve progenitors of the tribes of Israel. Rachel's father was Laban. Her older sister was Leah, Jacob's first wife; their mother was Adinah. Her aunt Rebekah was Jacob's mother.

References