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Meaning and etymology of the Hebrew name Benjamin

Benjamin Benjamin

Benjamin is the thirteenth and youngest child of Israel's patriarch Jacob (Genesis 35:18), who now has twelve sons and a daughter named Dinah. Benjamin is the second son of Rachel - the first being Joseph - and she dies giving birth to him. With her dying breath she names the boy Ben-oni, but father Jacob swiftly renames him Benjamin.

The name Benjamin is a compilation of two segments:

1) The Hebrew word ben (ben), son (also in the sense of member of a group). See for an exhaustive treatment of this word the name Ben.

2) The Hebrew noun yamin (yamin), meaning right hand or right side, but with many co-notations. The right hand was seen as the seat of one's power. Hence the many references to God's right hand (Exodus 15:6, Psalm 98:1, Matthew 26:64). The right hand also denotes the south or a southern direction (when facing east, which is the past - west is the future - Psalm 89:12). The country of Yemen thanks its name to this usage; literally it means South Land. In this same sense, the left hand came to denote the north.

The name Benjamin means Son Of The Right Hand (meaning, Son Of Strength; Son Of The South).

Related names are Imnah, Jamin, Teman and Temeni.



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