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Benjamin () was the last-born of
Jacob Jacob (; ; ar, يَعْقُوب, Yaʿqūb; gr, Ἰακώβ, Iakṓb), later given the name Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, translit=Yīsrāʾēl; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, translit=ʾIsrāʾīl), officially the State ...

Jacob
's thirteen children (12 sons and one daughter), and the second and last son of
Rachel Rachel () was a Biblical The Bible (from Koine Greek τὰ βιβλία, ''tà biblía'', "the books") is a collection of religious texts or scriptures sacred to Christians, Jews, Samaritans, Rastafari and others. It appears in the form ...

Rachel
in Jewish, Christian and Islamic tradition. He was the progenitor of the
Israelite The Israelites (; he, בני ישראל ''Bnei Yisra'el'') were a confederation of Iron Age ancient Semitic-speaking peoples, Semitic-speaking tribes of the ancient Near East, who inhabited a part of Canaan during the history of ancient Israe ...

Israelite
Tribe of Benjamin According to the Torah, the Tribe of Benjamin () was one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. The tribe was descended from Benjamin, the youngest son of the patriarch Jacob (later given the name Israel) and his wife Rachel. In the Samaritan Pentateuch ...

Tribe of Benjamin
. In the
Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites ...

Hebrew Bible
unlike Rachel's first son,
Joseph Joseph is a common masculine given name, derived from the Hebrew Yosef (יוֹסֵף). The form "Joseph" is used mostly in English, French and partially German-speaking (alongside "Josef") countries. This spelling is also found as a variant in th ...
, Benjamin was born in
Canaan A 1692 map of Canaan, by Philip Lea Canaan (; Northwest Semitic Northwest Semitic, known as Syro-Palestinian in dialect geography, is a division of the Semitic languages comprising the indigenous languages of the Levant. It would have ...

Canaan
. In the
Samaritan Pentateuch The Samaritan Pentateuch, also known as the Samaritan Torah ( he, תורה שומרונית ''torah shomronit''), is a text of the first five books of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Nor ...
, Benjamin's name appears as "Binyaamem" (). In the
Quran The Quran (, ; ar, القرآن , "the recitation"), also romanized Qur'an or Koran, is the central religious text Religious texts, also known as scripture, scriptures, holy writ, or holy books, are the texts which various religious t ...

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 Chileab ( he, כִלְאָב, ''Ḵīləʾāḇ'') also known as Daniel, was the second son of David David (; ) (traditional spelling), , ''Dāwūd''; grc-koi, Δαυΐδ, Dauíd; la, Davidus, David; gez , ዳዊት, ''Dawit''; xcl, Դաւ ...
,
Jesse Jesse () or Yishai ( he, יִשַׁי – ''Yišay'', in pausa In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and mod ...

Jesse
and
Amram In the Book of Exodus, Amram () is the husband of Jochebed and father of Aaron, Moses and Miriam. Alternative spellings of the name include . In the Bible In addition to being married to Jochebed, Amram is also described in the Bible as hav ...

Amram
.


Name

The name is first mentioned in letters from King
Sîn-kāšid Sîn-kāšid (inscribed in akk, 𒀭𒂗𒍪𒂵𒅆𒀉: EN.ZU''-kà-ši-id'') was the king of the ancient Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐ ...
of
Uruk Uruk, also known as Warka, was an ancient city of (and later of ) situated east of the present bed of the River on the dried-up ancient channel of the Euphrates east of modern , , .Harmansah, 2007 Uruk is the for the . Uruk played a leading ...
(1801–1771 BC), who called himself “King of Amnanum” and was a member of the
Amorite The Amorites (; Sumerian language, Sumerian 𒈥𒌅 ''MAR.TU''; Akkadian language, Akkadian ''Amurrūm'' or ''Tidnum''; Egyptian language, Egyptian ''Amar''; he, אמורי ''ʼĔmōrī''; grc, Ἀμορραῖοι) were an ancient Semitic lan ...
tribal group the “Binu-Jamina” (single name “Binjamin”; Akkadian "Mar-Jamin").
Dietz-Otto Edzard Dietz-Otto Edzard (28 August 1930 in Bremen Bremen (, also ; Low German : : : : : , minority = (70,000) (30,000) (8,000) , familycolor = Indo-European , fam2 = Germanic Germanic may refer to: * Germanic people ...
: ''Die Nomaden in der altbabylonischen Zeit'' In:
Elena Cassin Elena may refer to: People * Elena (given name) Elena is a popular female given name of Greek origin. The name means "shining light". Nicknames of the name Elena are Lena, Lennie, Ella, Ellie, Nellie or Nena (less common). Other common variants ...
,
Jean Bottéro Jean Bottéro (30 August 1914 – 15 December 2007) was a French historian born in Vallauris Vallauris () is a commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often propert ...
,
Jean Vercoutter Jean Vercoutter (20 January 1911 – 16 July 2000) was a French Egyptologist. One of the pioneers of archaeological research into Sudan Sudan (; ar, السودان, as-Sūdān), officially the Republic of the Sudan ( ar, جمهورية ا ...
: ''Die Altorientalischen Reiche I - Vom Paläolithikum bis zur Mitte des 2. Jahrtausends v. Chr. -'', Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1965 (gleichnamige limitierte Sonderausgabe 2003), S. 170.
The name means "Sons / Son of the South" and is linguistically related as a forerunner to the Old Testament name "Benjamin". According to the
Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites ...

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". Textual scholars regard these two names as fragments of naming narratives coming from different sources - one being the
Jahwist The Jahwist, or Yahwist, often abbreviated J, is one of the most widely recognized sources of the Pentateuch (Torah Torah (; he, תּוֹרָה, "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") has a range of meanings. It can most specifically mea ...
and the other being the
Elohist According to the documentary hypothesis The documentary hypothesis (DH) is one of the models used by biblical scholars to explain the origins and composition of the Torah (or Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible: Book of Genesis, Gene ...
. Unusually for one of the
12 tribes of Israel The Twelve Tribes of Israel ( he, שבטי ישראל, translit=Shivtei Yisrael, lit=Tribes of Israel) are, according to Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic religious texts, the descendants of the biblical Patriarchs (Bible), patriarch Jacob, also kn ...
, the Bible does not explain the
etymology Etymology ()The New Oxford Dictionary of English ''The'' () is a grammatical article Article often refers to: * Article (grammar) An article is any member of a class of dedicated words that are used with noun phrases to mark the identi ...
of Benjamin's name. Medieval commentator
Rashi Shlomo Yitzchaki ( he, רבי שלמה יצחקי; la, Salomon Isaacides; french: Salomon de Troyes, 22 February 1040 – 13 July 1105), today generally known by the acronym Rashi (see below), was a medieval French rabbi A rabbi is a spi ...
gives two different explanations, based on
Midrash ''Midrash'' (;"midrash"
''Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary''.
he, מִדְרָשׁ; ...

Midrash
ic sources. "Son of the south", with south derived from the word for the right hand side, referring to the birth of Benjamin in
Canaan A 1692 map of Canaan, by Philip Lea Canaan (; Northwest Semitic Northwest Semitic, known as Syro-Palestinian in dialect geography, is a division of the Semitic languages comprising the indigenous languages of the Levant. It would have ...

Canaan
, as compared with the birth of all the other sons of Jacob in Aram.https://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/8230/jewish/Chapter-35.htm#showrashi=true''Jewish Encyclopedia'' 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. Alternatively, Rashi suggests it means "son of days", meaning a son born in Jacob's old age. The
Samaritan Pentateuch The Samaritan Pentateuch, also known as the Samaritan Torah ( he, תורה שומרונית ''torah shomronit''), is a text of the first five books of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Nor ...
consistently spells his name "בן ימים", with a terminal
mem Mem (also spelled Meem, Meme, or Mim) is the thirteenth letter Letter, letters, or literature may refer to: Characters typeface * Letter (alphabet) A letter is a segmental symbol A symbol is a mark, sign, or word that indicates, signif ...

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. According to classical rabbinical sources, Benjamin was only born after
Rachel Rachel () was a Biblical The Bible (from Koine Greek τὰ βιβλία, ''tà biblía'', "the books") is a collection of religious texts or scriptures sacred to Christians, Jews, Samaritans, Rastafari and others. It appears in the form ...

Rachel
had
fasted Fasting is the willful refrainment from eating and sometimes drinking (see Water fasting and Juice fasting). From a purely physiology, physiological context, "fasting" may refer to the metabolism, metabolic status of a person who has not eaten ov ...
for a long time, as a religious devotion with the hope of a new child as a reward. By then
Jacob Jacob (; ; ar, يَعْقُوب, Yaʿqūb; gr, Ἰακώβ, Iakṓb), later given the name Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, translit=Yīsrāʾēl; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, translit=ʾIsrāʾīl), officially the State ...

Jacob
had become over 100 years old. Benjamin is treated as a young child in most of the Biblical narrative, but at one point is abruptly described as the father of ten sons. 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 The Jahwist, or Yahwist, often abbreviated J, is one of the most widely recognized sources of the Pentateuch (Torah Torah (; he, תּוֹרָה, "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") has a range of meanings. It can most specifically mea ...
and
Elohist According to the documentary hypothesis The documentary hypothesis (DH) is one of the models used by biblical scholars to explain the origins and composition of the Torah (or Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible: Book of Genesis, Gene ...
narratives, which make up most of the
Joseph Joseph is a common masculine given name, derived from the Hebrew Yosef (יוֹסֵף). The form "Joseph" is used mostly in English, French and partially German-speaking (alongside "Josef") countries. This spelling is also found as a variant in th ...
narrative, and which consistently describe Benjamin as a child. By allusion to the biblical Benjamin, in and
Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambiguation), the name of several ...

Spanish
, "Benjamin" (''benjamin''/''benjamín'', respectively) is a common noun meaning the youngest child of a family, especially a particularly favoured one (with a similar connotation to "baby of the family").


Israelites in Egypt

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 Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave, who is someone forbidden to quit their service for an enslaver, and who is treated by the enslaver as their property Property is a system of rights that gives ...

slave
as a punishment. The narrative goes on to state that when
Judah Judah may refer to: Historical ethnic, political and geographic terms The name was passed on, successively, from the biblical figure of Judah, to the Israelite tribe; its territorial allotment and the Israelite kingdom emerging from it, with the ...
(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. 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 Astrology is a pseudoscience that claims to divination, divine information about human affairs and terrestrial events by studying the movements and relative positions of Celestial objects in astrology, celestial objects. Astrology has be ...
, using an
astrolabe An astrolabe ( grc, ἀστρολάβος ; ar, ٱلأَسْطُرلاب ; persian, ستاره‌یاب ) is an ancient astronomical instrument that was a handheld model of the universe. Its various functions also make it an elaborate inclinom ...

astrolabe
-like tool.''Jewish Encyclopedia'' It continues by stating that Benjamin 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. Some classical rabbinical sources argue that Joseph identified himself for other reasons. 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. 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. 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; the narrative heavily implies that Benjamin was Joseph's favorite brother, since he is overcome with tears when he first meets Benjamin in particular, and he gives Benjamin five times as much food as he apportions to the others. 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.


Origin

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''.''Jewish Encyclopedia'', ''Ephraim'' 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.''
Peake's Commentary on the Bible ''Peake's Commentary on the Bible'' is a one-volume commentary on the Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic o ...
''
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. 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 Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identi ...

Egypt
, while the main Israelite tribes simply emerged as a subculture from the Canaanites and had remained in
Canaan A 1692 map of Canaan, by Philip Lea Canaan (; Northwest Semitic Northwest Semitic, known as Syro-Palestinian in dialect geography, is a division of the Semitic languages comprising the indigenous languages of the Levant. It would have ...

Canaan
throughout. According to this view, the story of Jacob's visit to
LabanLaban is a French language, French surname. It may refer to: Places * Laban-e Olya, a village in Iran * Laban-e Sofla, a village in Iran * Laban, Virginia, an unincorporated community in the United States * 8539 Laban, main-belt asteroid People S ...
to obtain a wife originated as a
metaphor A metaphor is a figure of speech A figure of speech or rhetorical figure is a word or phrase that entails an intentional deviation from ordinary language use in order to produce a rhetoric Rhetoric () is the Art (skill), art of ...
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. According to textual scholars, the
Jahwist The Jahwist, or Yahwist, often abbreviated J, is one of the most widely recognized sources of the Pentateuch (Torah Torah (; he, תּוֹרָה, "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") has a range of meanings. It can most specifically mea ...
version of the Laban narrative only mentions the Joseph tribes, and Rachel, and does not mention the other tribal
matriarch Matriarchy is a social system In sociology, social system is the patterned network of relationships constituting a coherent whole that exist between individuals, groups, and institutions. It is the formal Social structure, structure of role a ...

matriarch
s whatsoever.


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 The Book of Jubilees, sometimes called Lesser Genesis (Leptogenesis), is an ancient Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2ISO The International Organization for Standardization (ISO; ) is an international standard are tec ...
calls his wife Ijasaka and the Book of Jasher mentions two wives, Mechalia the daughter of Aram and Aribath the daughter of Shomron. The classical rabbinical tradition adds that each son's name honors Joseph: *''Belah'' (meaning ''swallow''), in reference to Joseph disappearing (''being swallowed up'') *''Becher'' (meaning ''first born''), in reference to Joseph being the first child of Rachel *''Ashbel'' (meaning ''capture''), in reference to Joseph having suffered captivity *''Gera'' (meaning ''grain''), in reference to Joseph living in a ''foreign'' land (Egypt) *''Naaman'' (meaning ''grace''), in reference to Joseph having graceful speech *''Ehi'' (meaning ''my brother''), in reference to Joseph being Benjamin's only full-brother (as opposed to half-brothers) *'' Rosh'' (meaning ''elder''), in reference to Joseph being older than Benjamin *''Muppim'' (meaning ''double mouth''), in reference to Joseph passing on what he had been taught by Jacob *''Huppim'' (meaning '' marriage canopies''), in reference to Joseph being married in Egypt, while Benjamin was not there *''Ard'' (meaning ''wanderer''/''fugitive''), in reference to Joseph being like a rose There is a disparity between the list given in Genesis 46 and that in Numbers 26, where the sons of Benjamin are listed along with the tribes they are the progenitors of. *''Belah'', progenitor of the Belaites, is in both lists *''Ashbel'', progenitor of the Ashbelites, is in both lists *''Ahiram'', progenitor of the Ahiramites, appears in this list but not the first *''Shupham'', progenitor of the Shuphamites, corresponds to Muppim from the first list *''Hupham'', progenitor of the Huphamites, corresponds to Huppim from the first list Becher, Gera, Ehi, and Rosh are omitted from the second list. Ard and Naaman, who are the sons of Benjamin according to Numbers 26, 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 The Quran (, ; ar, القرآن , "the recitation"), also romanized Qur'an or Koran, is the central religious text Religious texts, also known as scripture, scriptures, holy writ, or holy books, are the texts which various religious t ...

Quran
, Benjamin (Arabic: بنيامين Binyamīn) is referred to as the righteous youngest son of , in the narrative of Yusif 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 . As with Jewish tradition, it also further links a connection between the names of Benjamin's children and Joseph.


Family tree


See also

*
Benjamin (disambiguation)Benjamin Benjamin () was the last-born of Jacob's thirteen children (12 sons and one daughter), and the second and last son of Rachel in Jewish, Christian and Islamic tradition. He was the progenitor of the Israelite The Israelites (; he, ...
**For a list of persons with the given name Benjamin see *
Tribe of Benjamin According to the Torah, the Tribe of Benjamin () was one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. The tribe was descended from Benjamin, the youngest son of the patriarch Jacob (later given the name Israel) and his wife Rachel. In the Samaritan Pentateuch ...

Tribe of Benjamin
*
Paul the Apostle Paul; el, Παῦλος, translit=Paulos; cop, ⲡⲁⲩⲗⲟⲥ; he, פאולוס השליח, name=, group= (born Saul of Tarsus;; ar, بولس الطرسوسي; el, Σαῦλος Ταρσεύς, Saũlos Tarseús; tr, Tarsuslu Pavlus AD ...
, also known as Rabbi Shaul - a student of Gamliel or Paul the Jew from the Tribe of Benjamin; see Romans 11:1 and Phillipians 3:5 *
Mordecai Mordecai (; also Mordechai; , IPA: ) is one of the main personalities in the Book of Esther in the Hebrew Bible. He is described as being the son of Jair, of the tribe of Benjamin. He was promoted to Vizier after Haman was killed. Biblical acco ...
the Jew, from the Tribe of Benjamin see Esther 2:5 *Queen
Esther Esther is described in all versions of the Book of Esther The Book of Esther (Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historica ...

Esther
also known as Hadassah, the cousin of Mordecai the Jew - see the Book of Esther


Citations


References

*


External links


"Benjamin"
''
Jewish Encyclopedia ''The Jewish Encyclopedia: A Descriptive Record of the History, Religion, Literature, and Customs of the Jewish People from the Earliest Times to the Present Day'' is an English-language encyclopedia containing over 15,000 articles on the ...
'', 1908: Material on the tribe, its territory, Rabbinical tradition and Islam. {{Authority control Children of Jacob Founders of biblical tribes