Benjamin was the last born of Israel's twelve sons (see Children of Jacob), the younger of the two children by Rachel (Genesis 35:24). He was born on the road between Bethlehem and Bethel, the only of Jacob's sons to be born in what is today Israel. Tragically, Rachel died in giving him birth (Genesis 35:16-20). Her last words were to name the infant Benoni, meaning son of my sorrow, which was changed by Jacob to Benjamin, meaning son of my right hand. Rachel's tomb near Bethlehem is shown in the photograph.
Benjamin has an interesting place in Bible History:
- Benjamin's older brother was Joseph, who had been sold into Egypt by his jealous brothers (see Coat Of Many Colors).
- Benjamin's descendants formed the tribe of Benjamin, the Benjamites (Genesis 49:27, Deuteronomy 33:12, Joshua 18:21) (see The Tribes Of Israel).
- The tribe of Benjamin at the Exodus was the second-smallest (Numbers 1:36-37). Their order of march was along with Ephraim and Manasseh on the west of The Tabernacle In The Wilderness.
- After entering the Promised Land, Benjamin received the smallest of the allotments of the Tribal Lands (Joshua 18:11-20). Their territory was located immediately to the south of Ephraim, measuring about 26 miles / 42 kilometers in length and 12 miles / 20 kilometers wide. Their eastern boundary was the The Jordan River, and their major cities included part of Jerusalem (Joshua 18:21-28).
- The Benjamin Gate, on the north side of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 37:13), was so named because it led in the direction of the territory of the tribe of Benjamin (see Jerusalem Gates)
- After the incident at Gibeah (Judges 19:1-30), the Benjamites were nearly wiped out in a civil war against the other tribes (Judges chapters 20 and 21).
- Saul, the first human king of the Israelites, was a Benjamite.
- The Benjamites became closely allied with Judah in the time of King David (2 Samuel 19:16-17), which continued with Solomon (1 Kings 11:13).
- When the Israelites split into two kingdoms at the start of the reign of Solomon's son Rehoboam, the tribe of Benjamin was the only one to remain with Judah (1 Kings 12:21). The other ten formed the northern kingdom of Israel, and were later lost to history the "Lost Ten Tribes."
- Many years after the northern kingdom was conquered, Judah and Benjamin were conquered by the Babylonians (see Ancient Empires - Babylon, King Nebuchadnezzar and Temple Mount Treasures), but they did return after the Babylonians fell to the Persians (Ezra 1:5) (see Ancient Empires - Persia and Daniel's Statue). Judah and Benjamin form the Jewish people of today.
Fact Finder: Of what tribe was the apostle Paul?