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Meaning and etymology of the name Benaiah

Benaiah Benaiah

The name Benaiah (or actually, most often spelled Benaiahu, 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 Beneaiah, 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 Benaiah's 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).

The name Benaiah consists of two elements. The final part is Jah, Jah, which in turn is an abbreviated form of the Tetragrammaton; the name of the Lord: YHWH.

The first part of the name Benaiah comes from the verb bana (bana), which is the Hebrew common and ubiquitous verb meaning to build, but which seems to be closely related to the noun ben (ben), meaning son. For a closer look at this proposed relationship, see our article on the name Ben.

This verb comes with four derivatives: The feminine noun binya (binya), meaning structure or building (Ezekiel 41:13); The masculine noun binyan (binyan), also meaning structure (Ezekiel 40:5, 42:1); The feminine noun mibneh (mibneh), also meaning structure (Ezekiel 40:2); And the feminine noun tabnit (tabnit), meaning pattern or plan (Exodus 25:9, Isaiah 44:13).

For a meaning of the name Benaiah, NOBS 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.



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