The name Benaiah in the Bible
The name Benaiah (or actually, most often spelled בניהו, Benaiahu) is among the most popular in the Bible. There are at least twelve different individuals with that name. Doubtlessly the best known of these is Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada of Kabzeel (2 Samuel 23:20), who starts out as a military sub commander under king David (2 Samuel 8:18), but rises to prominence by murdering the two sons of Ariel of Moab, and killing a lion in a pit on a snowy day, and an Egyptian with his own spear that he snatches from his hand (2 Samuel 23:20-21). After that, whenever David, or his son and successor Solomon need some killing done, all they have to do is whistle for Benaiah. In rapid succession Benaiah kills Adonijah the son of Haggith (1 Kings 2:25), general Joab (2:34) and Shimei the son of Gera of Benjamin (2:46).
The other Benaiahs of the Bible are:
- A Pirathonite and mighty-man of David (2 Samuel 23:30).
- A family leader of Simeon (1 Chronicles 4:36).
- A second rank Levite gatekeeper (1 Chronicles 15:18).
- A Levite trumpeter (1 Chronicles 15:24) who may or may not be the same as the trumpeter mentioned in 16:6.
- A descendant of Asaph and the grandfather of the prophet Jahaziel (2 Chronicles 20:14).
- An overseer in service of king Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 31:13).
- The father of Pelatiah, who the prophet Ezekiel sees in a vision (Ezekiel 11:1,13).
- And four different men who had married and probably divorced their foreign wives during the purge of Ezra: a son of Parosh (Ezra 10:25), a son of Pahath-moab (v30), a son of Bani (v35), and a son of Nebo (v43).
Etymology of the name Benaiah
The name Benaiah consists of two elements, the final one being יה (Yah) = יהו (Yahu) = יו (Yu), which in turn are abbreviated forms of the Tetragrammaton יהוה, YHWH, or Yahweh.
The first part of the name Benaiah comes from the verb בנה (bana), which is the Hebrew common and ubiquitous verb meaning to build:
It should be remembered that the punctuations in the Hebrew text were added to the original during a time when Judaism was competing with Christianity, and every reference to a son of God may be expected to have been obscured.
The name Benaiah may mean Son Of God, but NOBSE Study Bible Name List proposes Yahweh Has Built. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads Built Up Of The Lord, and BDB Theological Dictionary offers Yah Hath Built Up.