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Bible Dictionaries

People's Dictionary of the Bible


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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.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Rice, Edwin Wilbur, DD. Entry for 'Benjamin'. People's Dictionary of the Bible. 1893.

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