The name Benjamin in the Bible
There are three men named Benjamin in the Bible, but the most famous one 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.
In Greek this name is spelled Βενιαμιν (Acts 13:21, Romans 11:1).
An often neglected curiosity is the disproportionally important role of the tribe of Benjamin in the development of Israel, or even the very pattern of redemption displayed by the Bible:
The city of Jerusalem was originally assigned to Benjamin (Judges 1:21). The tribe of Benjamin was decimated after the atrocities committed in Gibeah (Judges 19-21) but still, a generation later Israel's first king was from the surviving remnant of Benjamin (1 Samuel 9:1). Mordecai, whose adopted daughter Esther helped to avoid Israel's annihilation, was a Benjaminite (Esther 2:5). And the apostle Paul, who authored half the New Testament, was from the tribe of Benjamin as well (Philippians 3:5).
The other men named Benjamin are:
- A descendant of the original Benjamin, namely a son of Bilhan, son of Jediael (1 Chronicles 7:10).
- A son of Harim, who had married and probably divorced a foreign woman during the purge of Ezra (Ezra 10:32).
Etymology of the name Benjamin
The name Benjamin consists of two elements, the first one being the common Hebrew noun בן (ben), meaning son:
The second part of the name Benjamin comes from the noun ימין (yamin), meaning right hand or right side, from the root ימן:
The name Benjamin means Son Of The Right Hand (meaning, Son Of Strength; Son Of The South).