From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [1]

Of all Jacob’s sons, the two born to Rachel were his favourites, Joseph and Benjamin. In giving his prophetic blessing on the future tribes of Israel, Jacob knew that the descendants of Joseph would be far more dominant than those of Benjamin ( Genesis 49:22-27).

Protected son

Since Rachel died while giving birth to Benjamin ( Genesis 35:16-19), Jacob had a special concern for Benjamin. To protect Benjamin from any possible harm, Jacob would not allow him to go to Egypt the first time his sons went to buy grain ( Genesis 42:4). He allowed Benjamin to go on the second journey only because he had no alternative ( Genesis 42:38;  Genesis 43:13-15). Joseph, though delighted at seeing his younger brother again ( Genesis 43:16;  Genesis 43:29-34), used Benjamin to test the sincerity of his brothers before inviting the whole of Jacob’s family to come and live in Egypt ( Genesis 44:2;  Genesis 44:12; Genesis 45).

Aggressive tribe

Little is recorded concerning Benjamin’s character, but Jacob had sufficient insight to see that the tribe to be descended from him would be fiercely aggressive ( Genesis 49:27). Perhaps this characteristic developed in the tribe when, after the division of Canaan, it found itself squeezed into a narrow strip of land between Israel’s two most powerful tribes, Ephraim to the north and Judah to the south ( Joshua 18:11-28). As a result Benjamin soon lost towns on its northern border to Ephraim (see Bethel ; Gilgal ; Jericho ), and towns on its southern border to Judah (see Jerusalem; Kiriath-Jearim ) For other important Benjaminite towns see Gibeah ; Gibeon ; Mizpah .

The tribe of Benjamin soon became famous for its skilled fighters, many of whom were left-handed ( Genesis 49:27;  Judges 3:15;  Judges 20:15-16;  1 Chronicles 8:40). On one occasion, when the men of Gibeah had committed a terrible crime that brought shame on all Israel, Benjamin chose to fight against the other tribes rather than punish its guilty citizens. As a result of the war that followed, Benjamin was almost wiped out (Judges 19; Judges 20; Judges 21).

Yet Benjamin, the smallest tribe in Israel, produced Israel’s first king, Saul ( 1 Samuel 9:21;  1 Samuel 10:20-24). When Saul became jealous of David, the leading men of Benjamin encouraged Saul to kill him, no doubt because they saw David, and David’s tribe Judah, as a threat to their own position ( 1 Samuel 18:22-26;  1 Samuel 22:7;  1 Samuel 24:9;  1 Samuel 26:19; Psalms 7). When David later became king, some of the leading Benjaminites maintained their hostility to him ( 2 Samuel 16:5-8;  2 Samuel 20:1-2).

Jerusalem, on the border between Benjamin and Judah, was still under enemy control when David became king. David’s conquest of Jerusalem and his decision to make it his capital probably helped to win the allegiance of the Benjaminites ( Judges 1:21;  2 Samuel 5:6-7). The blessing that Moses promised the tribe of Benjamin was possibly fulfilled when Israel’s temple was built in Jerusalem, which was officially in Benjamin’s territory ( Deuteronomy 33:12;  Jeremiah 20:2). When, after the death of Solomon, the northern tribes broke away from Judah, Benjamin was the only tribe in Israel to remain loyal to Judah and the Davidic throne ( 1 Kings 11:11-13;  1 Kings 11:31-32;  1 Kings 12:21;  1 Chronicles 8:1;  1 Chronicles 8:28).

Benjamin went into captivity in Babylon with Judah, and later returned from captivity with Judah ( Ezra 4:1). Mordecai and Esther, who feature in a story of post-captivity Jews in a foreign land, were from the tribe of Benjamin ( Esther 2:5-7). The apostle Paul also was from the tribe of Benjamin ( Romans 11:1;  Philippians 3:5).

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [2]

("son of my right hand"), as Jacob named him; first called by his dying mother Rachel Benoni, son of my sorrow (compare  Jeremiah 31:15;  Matthew 2:17-18). Jesus the antitype was first "a man of sorrows" ( Isaiah 53:3), the mother's sorrows attending tits birth also at Bethlehem; afterward "the man of God's right hand," on whom God's hand was laid strengthening Him ( Revelation 1:17;  Psalms 80:17;  Psalms 89:21;  Acts 5:31).

1. Rachel's second son, the only son of Jacob born in Palestine ( Genesis 35:16-19), on the road between Betheland Bethlehem Ephrath, near the latter ( Genesis 48:7) (probably "the fertile", from Parah , corresponding to the town's other name, Bethlehem, "bread-house.") The Arabic Jamin means "fortunate". And in the expression "sons of Benjamin" or a "man of Benjamin, ... land of Benjamin," the first syllable is suppressed Benee Ha-Jemini, Ish Jemini, Erets Jemini, compare  Genesis 46:10. Benjamin was his father's favorite after Joseph's supposed death ( Genesis 44:30); as the youngest, the child of his old age, and the child of his beloved Rachel. Joseph's gifts to him exceeded far those to each of his elder brothers ( Genesis 43:34;  Genesis 45:22).

Benjamin was only 23 or 24 years old when Jacob went down to Egypt. He clearly could not then have had ten sons already ( Genesis 46:6-21), or eight sons and two grandsons ( Numbers 26:38-40). It is plain that the list in Genesis 46 includes those grandsons and great grandsons of Jacob born afterward in Egypt, and who in the Israelite mode of thought came into Egypt "in the loins" of their fathers (compare  Hebrews 7:9-10). Hence, arises the correspondence in the main between the list given in connection with Jacob's descent to Egypt in Genesis 46, and the list taken by Moses ages afterward in Numbers 26. Benjamin's sons, Becher, Gera, Rosh, are missing in Moses' list, because they either died childless, or did not leave a sufficient number of children to form independent families.

After the Exodus the tribe was the smallest but one ( Numbers 1:1;  Numbers 1:36-37;  1 Samuel 9:21;  Psalms 68:27). On march it held the post between Manasseh and Ephraim, its brother tribes, W. of the tabernacle, which it followed ( Psalms 80:2) under its captain Abidan, son of Gideoni ( Numbers 2:18-24). Palti, son of Raphu, was the spy representing it ( Numbers 13:9). In the division of the land Elidad, son of Chislon, represented it ( Numbers 34:21). Its predominant characteristic of warlike tastes is foretold by Jacob ( Genesis 49:27); "Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf, in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night shall divide the spoil." How truly is attested by the war waged them alone (and victoriously at against all the tribes, rather give up the wicked men of Gibeah (Judges 19; 20; compare  Matthew 26:52). Their number was reduced thereby to 600, who took refuge in the cliff Rimmon, and were provided with wives partly from Jabesh, partly from Shiloh (Judges 21).

The period of the judges must have been a long one to admit of the increase to Benjamin's subsequent large numbers ( 1 Chronicles 7:6-12;  1 Chronicles 7:8;  1 Chronicles 12:1-8). The same determined spirit, but in a better cause, appears in their resisting Saul, their own kinsman's, appeal to them to betray David's movements ( 1 Samuel 22:7-18). Moreover Ehud, judge and deliverer of Israel from Eglon of Moab, was of Benjamin; also Saul and Jonathan, whose prowess was famed ( 2 Samuel 1:18-19;  2 Samuel 1:23). Also Baanah and Rechab, captains of marauding bands and murderers of Ishbosheth (2 Samuel 4). Archers and slingers, generally left handed (as also Ehud was), were the chief force of the "sons of Jacob's right hand" ( Judges 3:15, etc.;  Judges 20:16;  1 Chronicles 12:2;  2 Chronicles 14:8;  2 Chronicles 17:17).

The "morning" and "night" in Jacob's prophecy mark that Benjamin, as he was in the beginning, so he should continue to the end of the Jewish state. Similarly in Moses' prophecy ( Deuteronomy 33:12), "Benjamin, the beloved of the Lord (attached to David = beloved after Saul's dynasty fell), shall dwell in safety by Him; the Lord shall cover him all the day long;" implying a longer continuance to Benjamin than to the other tribes. So Benjamin alone survived with Judah, after the deportation of the ten tribes to Assyria, arid accompanied Judah to and front the Babylonian captivity, and lasted until Shiloh came and until Jerusalem was destroyed. As on the march, so in the promised land, Benjamin's position was near that of Ephraim, between it on the N. and Judah on the S., a small but rich territory, advantageously placed in commanding the approach to the valley of the Jordan, and having Dan between it and the Philistines ( Joshua 18:11, etc.); a parallelogram, 26 miles long, 12 broad, extending from the Jordan to the region of Kirjath Jearim eight miles W. of Jerusalem, and from the valley of Hinnom S. to Bethel N.

When the Lord rejected the tabernacle of Joseph at Shiloh He chose mount Zion, Jerusalem which chiefly belonged to Benjamin (the of the Jebusite, "Jebusi, which Jerusalem" ( Joshua 18:28), and all the land N. of the valley of Hinnom), and only in part to Judah, God's chosen tribe ( Psalms 78:60;  Psalms 78:67-68). In this sense Benjamin fulfilled Moses' prophecy in "dwelling between" Judah's (the Lord's representative) "shoulders," or ridges of the ravines which on the W., S., and E. environ the holy city. Primarily, however, the idea is, Benjamin as "the beloved of Jehovah shall dwell in safety with Him (literally, founded upon Him), and he (Benjamin) shall dwell between His (Jehovah's) shoulders," as a son borne upon his father's back ( Deuteronomy 1:31;  Deuteronomy 32:11;  Exodus 19:4;  Isaiah 46:3-4;  Isaiah 63:9).

This choice of Jerusalem as the seat of the ark and David's place of residence formed a strong He between Judah and Benjamin, though Saul's connection with the latter had previously made the Benjamites, as a tribe, slow to recognize David as king ( 1 Chronicles 12:29;  2 Samuel 2:8-9). Hence at the severance of the ten tribes Benjamin remained with Judah ( 1 Kings 12:23;  2 Chronicles 11:1). The two coalesced into one, under the common name Jews, whence they are called "one tribe" ( 1 Kings 11:13;  1 Kings 11:32;  1 Kings 12:20-21). Moreover, a part of Benjamin including Bethel, the seat of Jeroboam's calf worship, went with the ten tribes. Possibly Jeroboam's having appropriated it for the calf worship may have helped to alienate Benjamin from him and attach Benjamin to Judah. They two alone were the royal tribes.

David was connected with Saul of Benjamin by marriage with his daughter, and therefore, feeling the political importance of the connection, made it a preliminary of his league with Abner that Michal should be restored to him, though Phaltiel had her heart ( 2 Samuel 3:13-16). Above all, what knit together Benjamin and Judah most was the position fixed by God for the great national temple, which deprived Ephraim of its former glory ( Psalms 78:60-68); not in Judah only, or in Benjamin only, but on part of the confines of both, so that one text places it in Judah and the parallel text in Benjamin; compare  Joshua 15:63 with  Joshua 18:28. These elements of union between Benjamin and Judah are not obviously put forward in the sacred writings, but are found in them on close observation, just such seeds as would produce the ultimate union which the history records.

Such undesigned coincidences agree best with the belief that the narrative is minutely true, not forged. Benjamin occupied a plateau generally about 2,000 feet above the Mediterranean plain, and 3,000 feet above the valley of the Jordan. The hilly nature of the country is marked by the names Gibeon, Gibeah, Geba, Ramah, Mizpeh (watchtower), "the ascent of Bethhoron," the cliff Rimmon, the pass of Michmash. Torrent beds and ravines are the only avenues from the Philistian and Sharon plains on the W., and from the deep Jordan valley on the E. These ravines were frequented once by many wild beasts, as the names of places testify: Zeboim, "hyaenas" ( 1 Samuel 13:17-18); Shual and Shaalbim ( Judges 1:35), "foxes" or "jackals"; Ajalon, "gazelle." Up these western passes the Philistines advanced against Saul in the beginning of his reign, and drove him to Gilgal in the Arabah, occupying from Michmash to Ajalon. Down them they were driven again by Saul and Jonathan. Joshua chased the Canaanites down the long slopes of Bethhoron.

The regular road between Jericho and Jerusalem was another of these passes, the scene of the parable of the good Samaritan. Lod, Ono, Aijalon were westward extensions of Benjamin's bounds beyond the original limit ( Nehemiah 11:35). The presence of the ark at Kirjath Jearim in Benjamin, the prophet Samuel's residence in the sanctuary Ramah ( 1 Samuel 7:17;  1 Samuel 9:12), the great assemblies of "all Israel" at Mizpeh ( 1 Samuel 7:5), and the sanctity attached of old to Bethel, "the great high place" at Gibeon ( 1 Kings 3:4;  2 Chronicles 1:3), all tended to raise B. high in the nation, and to lead them to acquiesce in the choice of Saul as king, though belonging to "the smallest of the tribes of Israel" ( 1 Samuel 9:21). After Saul's and then Ishbosheth's death, Benjamin sent 3,000 men to Hebron to confirm the kingdom to David ( 1 Chronicles 12:23;  1 Chronicles 12:29;  2 Samuel 5:3), Abner having declared for him. But the Benjamite Shimei's curses and Sheba's rebel. lion indicate that Saul's party among the Benjamites, even after his dynasty had ceased, cherished the old grudge against David.

Besides the causes mentioned before, which finally united Benjamin and Judah, there was Jeroboam's setting up the calf worship in Bethel (a Benjamite city) in rivalry of the temple of Jehovah in the joint city of Benjamin and Judah, Jerusalem ( 1 Kings 12:29); also Rehoboam's wise policy in dispersing his children through all Judah and Benjamin, into every" fenced city" ( 2 Chronicles 11:12;  2 Chronicles 11:23); also Asa's covenant with Jehovah, in which Benjamin took part (2 Chronicles 15); also the advancement of Benjamites to high posts in the army ( 2 Chronicles 17:17). "The high gate of Benjamin" ( Jeremiah 20:2) marked the tribe's individuality even in the joint metropolis of Benjamin and Judah; compare Ezra 2;  Ezra 10:9; Nehemiah 7;  Nehemiah 11:31-35 in proof of this individuality even after the return from Babylon. The genealogy of Kish and Saul, traced to a late date, brings us down to a Kish, father of Mordecai, the savior of the Jewish nation from Haman's intended destruction ( Esther 2:5).

The royal name reappears in Saul of Tarsus, whose glory was that he belonged to "the tribe of Benjamin" ( Romans 11:1;  Philippians 3:5.) His full sense of that honor appears in his reference to his forefather," Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin" ( Acts 13:21.) In his own person he realized some of the prominent characteristics of his tribe: fierce obstinacy when be was "exceedingly mad against Christians, and persecuted them even unto strange cities" ( Acts 26:11), equally persistent firmness when he declares, in spite of friends' entreaties, "I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus" ( Acts 21:13). Thus Benjamin had the distinction of producing one of Israel's first judges, her first king, and the great apostle of the uncircumcision.

2. A Benjamite, head of a family of giant men; son of Bilhan ( 1 Chronicles 7:10).

3. One who married a foreign wife ( Ezra 10:32).

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [3]

BENJAMIN . 1 . The youngest son of Jacob by Rachel, and the only full brother of Joseph (  Genesis 30:22 f. [JE [Note: Jewish Encyclopedia.] ]   Genesis 35:17 [J [Note: Jahwist.] ]   Genesis 35:24 [P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] ]). He alone of Jacob’s sons was native-born. J [Note: Jahwist.] (  Genesis 35:16 ) puts his birth near Ephrath in Benjamin. A later interpolation identifies Ephrath with Bethlehem, but cf.   1 Samuel 10:2 . P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] , however (  Genesis 35:22-26 ), gives Paddan-aram as the birth-place of all Jacob’s children. His mother, dying soon after he was born, named him Ben-oni (‘son of my sorrow’). Jacob changed this ill-omened name to the more auspicious one Benjamin , which is usually interpreted ‘son of my right hand,’ the right hand being the place of honour as the right side was apparently the lucky side (cf.   Genesis 48:14 ). Pressed by a famine, his ten brothers went down to Egypt, and Jacob, solicitous for his welfare, did not allow Benjamin to accompany them; but Joseph made it a condition of his giving them corn that they should bring him on their return. When Judah (  Genesis 43:9 J [Note: Jahwist.] ) or Reuben (  Genesis 42:37 E [Note: Elohist.] ) gave surety for his safe return, Jacob yielded. Throughout the earlier documents Benjamin is a tender youth, the idol of his father and brothers. A late editor of P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] (  Genesis 46:21 ) makes him, when he entered Egypt, the father of ten sons, that is more than twice as many as Jacob’s other sons except Dan, who had seven.

The question is, What is the historical significance of these conflicting traditions? Yâmin ,’ right hand,’ appears to have been used geographically for south,’ and Ben-yâmin may mean ‘son (s) of the south,’ i.e. the southern portion of Ephraim. Ben-oni may be connected with On in the tribe of Benjamin. The two names may point to the union of two related tribes, and the persistence of the traditions that Benjamin was the full brother of Joseph, whereas the other Joseph tribes (Manasseh and Ephraim) are called sons, would indicate not only a close relationship to Joseph, but also a comparatively early development into an independent tribe. On the other hand, J [Note: Jahwist.] E [Note: Elohist.] P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] all make Benjamin the youngest son, and P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] gives Canaan as his native land. This points to a traditional belief that the tribe was the last to develop. This and the fact that Shimei, a Benjamitc, claims (  2 Samuel 19:20 ) to be’ of the house of Joseph,’ suggest that the tribe was an offshoot of the latter.

The limits of the tribal territory are given by P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] in  Joshua 18:11-28 . Within it lay Bethel (elsewhere assigned to Ephraim), Ophrah, Geba, Gibeon, Ramab, Mizpeh, Gibeah, all primitive seats of Canaanitish worship and important centres in the cultus of Israel (cf., e.g. , Bethel,   Amos 7:10 ff.). Jericho, where in early times there may have been a cult of the moon-god ( jârçach = ‘moon’), and Jerusalem are also assigned to Benjamin.   Deuteronomy 33:12 , as commonly but not universally interpreted, also assigns Jerusalem to Benjamin, though later it belonged to Judah. Anathoth, the birth-place of Jeremiah, also lay in Benjamin (  Joshua 21:18 [P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] ]). In the Blessing of Jacob (  Genesis 49:27 ) a fierce and warlike character is ascribed to Benjamin. The statement is all the more important, since in this ‘Blessing’ we have certainly to deal with vaticinia post eventum . The rugged and unfriendly nature of the tribal territory doubtless contributed to martial hardihood. The tribe participated in the war against Sisera (  Judges 5:14 ). A late and composite story is found in   Judges 19:1-30;   Judges 20:1-48;   Judges 21:1-25 of an almost complete annihilation of the tribe by the rest of the Israelites. Later the tribe gave to united Israel its first king, Saul of Gibeah. It had in Asa’s army, according to   2 Chronicles 14:8 , 280,  2 Chronicles 14 picked warriors an exaggeration of course, but a very significant one in this connexion. Benjamin, under Sheba, a kinsman of Saul, led in the revolt against David when the quarrel provoked by David’s partisanship broke out between Judah and the northern tribes (  2 Samuel 20:1 ff.). From the first the tribe was loyal to the house of Saul and violently opposed to David (cf.   2 Samuel 16:5;   2 Samuel 20:2 ). In the revolt against the oppressions of Rehoboam it joined with the North (  1 Kings 12:20 ). A variant account joins it with Judah (  1 Kings 12:21 f.), but this is only a reflexion of later times. The history of the tribe is unimportant after David. Besides Saul and Jeremiah, St. Paul also traced descent to this tribe (  Philippians 3:5 ). See also Tribes. 2 . A great-grandson of Benjamin (  1 Chronicles 7:10 ). 3 . One of those who had married a foreign wife (  Ezra 10:32; prob. also   Nehemiah 3:23;   Nehemiah 12:34 ).

James A. Craig.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [4]

The youngest son of Jacob by his beloved wife Rachel. She died at his birth and named him BEN-ONI,signifying 'son of my sorrow,' but his father named him BENJAMIN,'son of the right hand.'  Genesis 35:18,24 . Type of Christ both as exalted at God's right hand (Benjamin), and, as rejected, the occasion of Israel's tribulation in the last days (Ben-oni), Rachel being a type of Israel ( Micah 5 .). Very little is recorded of Benjamin personally: he was the father of ten sons.  Genesis 46:21 .

Benjamin was the smallest of the tribes except Manasseh in the numbering of  Numbers 1:37;  Numbers 2:22,23 . In  Psalm 68:27 it is called 'little Benjamin;' but in the numbering before entering the land Benjamin exceeded in number four of the other tribes.   Numbers 26:41 . In  Genesis 49:27 Jacob prophesied of the tribe that it should "ravin as a wolf; in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil;" typical of Christ in judgement on the earth in a future day. In   Deuteronomy 33:12 , where Moses prophesied of the tribes, he said of Benjamin, "The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by him; and the Lord shall cover him all the day long, and he shall dwell between his shoulders." So in the blessings of  Psalm 68:27 Benjamin is the first named of the four tribes; and in   Psalm 80:2 , where God is called upon to save them, Benjamin is mentioned with Ephraim and Manasseh, being the three tribes which followed the ark.  Numbers 2:17-24;  Numbers 10:22-24 .

The tribe did not drive out the Jebusites, but allowed them to dwell with them in Jerusalem,  Judges 1:21; this may have led to their idolatry, for when, with Judah and Ephraim, they were attacked by the children of Ammon, they confessed they had forsaken God and served Baalim.  Judges 10:9,10 . It may also have led to the dreadful deed which resulted in the destruction of nearly the whole tribe.  Judges 19 - 21. From this they in a measure recovered their strength. At the division of the kingdom they remained with Judah, but a large portion of their lot was seized by Israel. At times they appear to be lost sight of, for Ahijah said that God had reserved to the house of David one tribe (as if Benjamin was reckoned as cut off in judgement),  1 Kings 11:36 . The two tribes were constantly spoken of as 'Judah,' whereas the ten tribes were called 'Israel.' On the return from the captivity, Benjamin had its share of blessing with Judah.  Ezra 1:5;  Ezra 10:9;  Nehemiah 11:4-36 . Paul relates twice that he was of the tribe of Benjamin.  Romans 11:1;  Philippians 3:5 . In the future, twelve thousand of this tribe will be sealed.  Revelation 7:8 .

The district occupied by the tribe is often simply called Benjamin. It was situated with Ephraim on its north, and Judah on its south, Dan on its west, and the Jordan on its east; it occupied about 28 miles east and west and 14 miles north and south at its widest parts. The district is mountainous with rocks and ravines, having an elevated table land. It contained the important cities of Jerusalem (in its south border), Bethel, Gibeon, Ramah, etc.

People's Dictionary of the Bible [5]

Benjamin ( Bĕn'Ja-Mĭn ), Son Of The Right Hand. 1. The youngest son of Jacob, born in Palestine, not far from Bethlehem, after the return from Padan-aram. Rachel, his mother, died in giving him birth, and named him Ben-oni, Son Of My Sorrow , but the father called him Benjamin. Of Benjamin's personal character and history little is recorded. His brothers, touched perhaps with some sense of their cruel wrong to Joseph, seem to have treated him with tenderness; and, when they first went down to Egypt to buy corn, he was left at home.  Genesis 42:3-4;  Genesis 42:13. Joseph, however, required that he should be brought, and, to insure the return of the brethren, kept Simeon as a hostage. Verses 14-20, 33, 34. A prophetic blessing was pronounced by Jacob upon Benjamin.  Genesis 49:27. The blessing of Moses,  Deuteronomy 33:12, was significant of the location of the tribe between Ephraim and Judah, on the hills where "the joy of the whole earth," "the city of the great King," was afterwards established, a safe and happy dwelling-place "between his shoulders." The territory allotted to the Benjamites extended from the Jordan eastward to the frontier of Dan in the west. The Benjamites excelled as archers,  2 Chronicles 17:17; while among the rest of Israel archery was (at least it has been so supposed) at one time neglected,  2 Samuel 1:18; and their skill in slinging with either hand is particularly noted.  1 Chronicles 12:2;  Judges 20:16. The greatest misfortune that ever befel the tribe occurred not very long after the settlement in Canaan. Their cities were burnt; and there survived of the whole tribe but 600 men, for whom the oath of the Israelites rendered it difficult to provide wives when the angry passions of the nation had settled down.  Judges 19:21. Restored to their inheritance this remnant must have been wealthy proprietors; three of the families are mentioned as supplying a large force of soldiers.  1 Chronicles 7:6-11. The first monarch of Israel was a Benjamite; and no doubt his own tribe would be specially favored.  1 Samuel 22:7. But the Benjamites never showed much attachment to Saul or his family. Indeed, many of them joined David while yet an outlaw.  1 Chronicles 12:1-7. We thus see the drawings of Benjamin towards Judah, which issued in the firm union of both the tribes when the kingdom was divided. Thenceforward the history of the two is identical: both went into captivity, and both returned.  Nehemiah 11:31-36. The name reappears with Saul of Tarsus, whose glory was that he belonged to "the tribe of Benjamin."  Romans 11:1;  Philippians 3:5. Thus Benjamin had the distinction of producing one of Israel's first judges, Ehud,  Judges 3:15, her first king, and the great apostle to the Gentiles. 2. A Benjamite chief.  1 Chronicles 7:10. 3. One who married a foreign wife.  Ezra 10:32. 4. Benjamin is mentioned as taking part in the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem.  Nehemiah 12:34. It would seem as if an individual were intended.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [6]

  • 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 18:21 ).

    The tribe of Benjamin at the Exodus was the smallest but one ( Numbers 1:36,37;  Psalm 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 20:20,21;  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 19:16,17 ), 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 20:20,36;  2 Samuel 1:22;  1 Chronicles 8:40;  12:2 ) and slingers (Judge. 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 .)

    Copyright Statement These dictionary topics are from M.G. Easton M.A., DD Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain.

    Bibliography Information Easton, Matthew George. Entry for 'Benjamin'. Easton's Bible Dictionary. 1897.

  • Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [7]

    The youngest son of Jacob, by Rachel. The mother of Benjamin had expressed her dissatisfaction in having no children. "Give me children (said she in her displeasure) or else I die." It is said in the after pages of her history, that God "remembered Rachel, and that God hearkened unto her and opened her womb; and she bare a son, and called his name Joseph;" that is, as the margin of the Bible renders it, adding; and said,"the Lord shall add to me another son." (See the interesting history,  Genesis 30:1-43 throughout. See also Joseph.) After the birth of Joseph, Rachel conceived again, and bore Benjamin, on which occasion she died. Moses gives a very affecting account of it,  Genesis 35:15-20. As the soul of Rachel was departing from her body, she named her child Ben-oni; and the margin of our Bibles hath thought it proper to mark it with some degree of emphasis; the son of my sorrow, from Ben, son; and On, grief or burden; and the pronoun I, makes it personal, my sorrow. Poor Rachel! what a mistaken judgment she made! She earnestly desired children; but behold the event! God gave her a son; but he was, as she properly named him, a son of sorrow; a Benoni. How many Rachels have there been since, who in wrestling or wishing to take the government out of Lord's hands, have done it to their sorrow! Jacob, though his love to Rachel was unbounded, (see  Genesis 29:18-20) yet he would not suffer the child to retain the name of Benoni, but changed it to Benjamin, which is, the son of my right hand, from Ben, son; and jamin, the right hand. And his love to Benjamin is much recorded in the Scripture. Moses, the man of God, viewing, most probably, Benjamin typically in relation to the Lord Jesus Christ, makes a beautiful observation in his dying blessing, which he gave to the tribes of Israel; "And of Benjamin he said, the beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by him; and the Lord shall cover him all the day long, and he shall dwell between his shoulders." ( Deuteronomy 33:12)

    See Gold

    American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [8]

    The youngest son of Jacob and Rachel,  Genesis 35:16-18 . Rachel died immediately after he was born, and with her last breath named him Ben-oni, the son of my sorrow; but Jacob called him Benjamin, son of my right hand. He was a great comfort to his father, who saw in him the beloved wife he had buried, and Joseph whose loss he mourned. He could hardly be persuaded to let him go with his brethren to Egypt,  Genesis 42:38 . The tribe of Benjamin was small at first and was almost exterminated in the days of the Judges,  Judges 20:1-48 , but afterwards greatly increased,  2 Chronicles 14:8   17:17 . It was valiant,  Genesis 49:27 , and "beloved of the Lord," dwelling safely by him,  Deuteronomy 33:12; for its territory adjoined Judah and the Holy City on the north. At the revolt of the ten tribes, Benjamin adhered to the cause of Judah; and the two tribes were ever afterwards closely united,  1 Kings 11:13   12:20   Ezra 4:1   10:9 . King Saul and Saul of Tarsus were both Benjamites,  Philippians 3:5 .

    Holman Bible Dictionary [9]

    The tribe of Benjamin occupied the smallest territory of all the tribes. Yet, it played a significant role in Israelite history. Saul, Israel's first king, was a Benjamite. Furthermore, the city of Jerusalem was near the border between the territories of Benjamin and Judah and may have been in Benjamin originally ( Joshua 18:16;  Judges 1:21 ). Benjamin's appetite for territory may be seen in Jacob's blessing ( Genesis 49:27 ). Moses' blessing highlights Benjamin's special place in God's care ( Deuteronomy 33:12 ). Late in the period of the judges, Benjamin almost disappeared from history when they mistreated a Levite and his concubine ( Judges 19-21 ).

    In the New Testament, the apostle Paul proudly proclaimed his heritage in the tribe of Benjamin ( Romans 11:1;  Philippians 3:5 ). See Tribes of Israel; Patriarchs.

    Smith's Bible Dictionary [10]

    Ben'jamin. (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;  Genesis 35:18. Until the journeys of Jacob's 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.

    Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [11]

     Genesis 43:5,  Genesis 43:13 (c) This person is a type of Christ in that his brothers could not see the face of Joseph unless he came with them. So it is with us; we cannot see GOD the Father unless CHRIST is with us. (See also  John 14:6).

     Deuteronomy 33:12 (a) Here is a beautiful picture of the trusting and confident Christian who dwells in the presence of his Lord, is covered by GOD's gracious, protecting care, and like the Indian's papoose, rests securely and happily between the shoulders of his wonderful Lord. The papoose does not care how long the journey is nor how rough the road is, neither does the "Benjamin Christian" who dwells between GOD's shoulders.

    Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [12]

    the youngest son of Jacob and Rachel, who was born, A.M. 2272. Jacob, being on his journey from Mesopotamia, as he was proceeding southward with Rachel in the company,  Genesis 35:16-17 , &c, the pains of child-bearing came upon her, about a quarter of a league from Bethlehem, and she died after the delivery of a son, whom, with her last breath, she named Benoni, that is, "the son of my sorrow;" but soon afterward Jacob changed his name, and called him Benjamin, that is, "the son of my right hand." See Joseph .

    King James Dictionary [13]

    BEN'JAMIN, n. A tree, the Laurus Benzoin, a native of America, called also spicebush. It grows to the height of 15 or 20 feet, with a very branchy head.

    1. A gum or resin, or rather a balsam. See Benzoin.

    Webster's Dictionary [14]

    (1): (n.) A kind of upper coat for men.

    (2): (n.) See Benzoin.

    Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [15]

    See Tribes.

    Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [16]

    International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [17]

    ben´ja - min ( בּנימין , binyāmı̄n , or בּנימן , binyāmin  ; Βενιαείν , Beniaeı́n , Βενιαμίν , Beniamı́n ):

    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 - J acob 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 (Gen 42ff). Ten sons of Benjamin are named at the time of their settlement in Egypt ( Genesis 46:21 ).

    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;  Numbers 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 f). 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;  Numbers 34:21 ).

    3. Territory

    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;  1 Chronicles 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 ).

    5. History

    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 ,  2 Samuel 2:25;  2 Samuel 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 Sam 19 f). 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 ,  2 Kings 23:19 , 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 3:5 ).

    (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;  Nehemiah 12:34 ).

    Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [18]

    Ben´jamin, youngest son of Jacob, by Rachel ( Genesis 35:18). His mother died immediately after he was born, and with her last breath named him Ben-Oni, 'Son of my pain,' which the father changed into Benjamin, a word of nearly the same sound, but portending comfort and consolation, 'Son of my right hand,' probably alluding to the support and protection he promised himself from this, his last child, in his old age.

    The tribe of Benjamin, though the least numerous of Israel, became nevertheless a considerable race in process of time. In the desert it counted 35,400 warriors, all above twenty years of age ( Numbers 1:36;  Numbers 2:22); and, at the entrance of Israel into Canaan, even as many as 45,600. The portion allotted to this tribe was in proportion to its small number, and was encompassed by the districts of Ephraim, Dan and Judah, in central Palestine. The territory, though rather small, was highly-cultivated and naturally fertile, and contained thirty-six towns (with the villages appertaining to them), which are named in  Joshua 18:21-28; and the principal of which were Jericho, Bethagla, Bethel, Gibeon, Ramah, and Jebus or Jerusalem. This latter place subsequently became the capital of the whole Jewish empire; but was, after the division of the land, still in possession of the Jebusites. The lower or less fortified part had been taken by Judah ( Judges 1:8), who in this matter had almost a common interest with Benjamin; but Zion, the upper part, was not finally wrested from the Jebusites till the time of David ( 2 Samuel 5:6, sq.). In the time of the Judges, the tribe of Benjamin became involved in a civil war with the other eleven tribes, for having refused to give up to justice the miscreants of Gibeon who had publicly violated and caused the death of a concubine of a man of Ephraim, who had passed with her through Gibeon. This war terminated in the almost utter extinction of the tribe; leaving no hope for its regeneration from the circumstance, that, not only had nearly all the women of that tribe been previously slain by their foes, but the eleven other tribes had engaged themselves by a solemn oath not to marry their daughters to any man belonging to Benjamin. When the thirst of revenge, however, had abated, they found means to evade the letter of the oath, and to revive the tribe again by an alliance with them ( Judges 21:20-21). This revival was so rapid, that in the time of David it already numbered 59,434 able warriors ( 1 Chronicles 7:6-12); in that of Asa, 280,000 ( 2 Chronicles 14:8); and in that of Jehoshaphat, 200,000 ( 2 Chronicles 17:17).

    This tribe had also the honor of giving the, first king to the Jews, Saul being a Benjamite ( 1 Samuel 9:1-2). After his death, the Benjamites, as might have been expected, declared themselves for his son Ishbosheth ( 2 Samuel 2:8, sq.); until, after the assassination of that prince, David became king of all Israel. David having at last expelled the Jebusites from Zion, and made it his own residence, the close alliance that seems previously to have existed between the tribes of Benjamin and Judah ( Judges 1:8) was cemented by the circumstance that, while Jerusalem actually belonged to the district of Benjamin, that of Judah was immediately contiguous to it. Thus it happened, that, at the division of the kingdom after the death of Solomon, Benjamin espoused the cause of Judah, and formed, together with it a kingdom by themselves. Indeed, the two tribes stood always in such a close connection, as often to be included under the single term Judah ( 1 Kings 11:13;  1 Kings 12:20). After the exile, also, these two tribes constituted the flower of the new Jewish colony in Palestine (comp.  Ezra 4:1;  Ezra 10:9).

    The Nuttall Encyclopedia [19]

    Jacob's youngest son, by Rachel, the head of one of the twelve tribes, who were settled in a small fertile territory between Ephraim and Judah; the tribe to which St. Paul belonged.