The Tribe of Benjamin
Benjamin is the son of Jacob and Rachel. Jacob was the second son of Rebekah and Isaac. Jacob loved Rachel, the youngest daughter of Laban. Jacob promised to serve Laban seven years for Rachel. Completing the seven years Jacob expected to marry Rachel, but was tricked to marry Leah, the older daughter. Zilpah was the hand maid sent with Leah. Jacob worked another seven years to marry Rachel and her handmaid Bilah. (Genesis 29:15-30).
Jacob journeyed to Bethel near Ephrath when Rachel had gone into hard labor. Rachel knew she was having a son, so she named him Benoni meaning son of my sorrow. Jacob renamed him Benjamin, meaning son of my right hand, after the death of Rachel. Rachel died and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem. Jacob set a pillar upon her grave; that is the pillar of Rachel's grave unto this day. The sons of Rachel were Joseph and Benjamin. The sons of the handmaid of Rachel, Bilhah, were Dan and Naphtali. (Genesis 35:16-24).
Jacob had taken his family to dwell in the land of Canaan. The LORD GOD had changed the name of Jacob to Israel. Joseph, the older brother of Benjamin, was the favorite son of Jacob, Israel. Jacob made Joseph a coat of many colors. The brothers of Joseph saw their father loved Joseph more that all of them and they hated him. They plotted against Joseph. The brothers were feeding their father’s flock in Shechem (some 60 miles from Hebron where they lived) when Jacob, Israel, sent Joseph to check on them. Joseph couldn’t find his brothers in Shechem and was found by a man wandering in the fields. The man sent Joseph to Dothan to find his brothers. When the brothers saw him coming they conspired against him to slay him. Reuben, his oldest brother, delivered Joseph out of the hands of his brothers and suggested not to kill him but to let him be cast into a pit in the wilderness. The brothers stripped Joseph out of his coat of many colors and cast Joseph into a pit without water. There was a company of Ishmaelites that came from Gilead with their camels bearing spices, balm, and myrrh on their way to Egypt. It was Judah who suggested selling Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. It was the Ishmaelites who carried Joseph to Egypt and sold him to Potiphar, an officer of the Pharaoh, and captain of the guard. The brothers took Joseph’s coat of many colors, killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the coat in the blood. They then returned to their father. Jacob, Israel, knew his beloved son had been devoured by an evil beast. Jacob, Israel, rented his clothes and put on sack clothes and mourned for Joseph for many days and could not be comforted. (Genesis 37:1-36).
There was then seven years of famine in all the land of Egypt and over all the face of the earth. Joseph was the governor over the land, and it was his to sell to all the people of the land. When the famine was over all the face of the earth Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold to the Egyptians and the other countries that came into Egypt to buy corn. Joseph gathered up all the money that was in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, for the corn which they bought. All the cattle and all the land, and at last the Egyptians themselves, became the property of Pharaoh. Jacob, Israel, sent ten of his sons to Egypt to buy corn. Benjamin was kept behind to protect him from harm.
The brothers came from Canaan to buy corn. Joseph recognized his brothers but they did not recognize him. He remembered the dreams which he had dreamed of his brothers, and said unto them, they were spies. Three days later to prove they were not spies Joseph directed his brethren to return to their home and bring the youngest brother, Benjamin. Joseph commanded to fill their sacks with corn, and to restore every man’s money into his sack, and to give them provision for their way Simeon was left behind to make sure they came back.
Once they all returned with Benjamin Joseph made himself known to all his brothers telling them he was Joseph who they sold into Egypt. Joseph asked if his father was alive and told them to bring him to Egypt. They were afraid but were told to hurry and get his father and tell him his son Joseph is alive. Joseph gave them wagons, according to the commandment of Pharaoh, and gave them provision for the way. Jacob, Israel, could hardly believe Joseph was alive, and governor over all the land of Egypt. Jacob, Israel went to Egypt to see his son Joseph. Judah was sent ahead to inform Joseph to meet the father at Goshen. Joseph made ready his chariot, and went up to meet Jacob, Israel his father, to Goshen, and presented himself unto him; and he fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a good while. Joseph told Pharaoh, his father, brothers, and their flocks, and herds, and all that they have, have come out of the land of Canaan; and, behold, they are in the land of Goshen. Joseph presented his family to the Pharaoh and Jacob, Israel, blessed Pharaoh. Pharaoh gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses. That is how the Israelites came into the land of Egypt. (Genesis 39-48).
Jacob’s last words to his son "Benjamin is a ravenous wolf; in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil.” (Genesis 49:27).
When the wandering in the wilderness was over, the tribes divided the land. The lot of the tribe of the children of Benjamin came up according to their families. The coast of their lot came between the children of Judah and the children of Joseph. Their border on the north side was from Jordan; and the border went up to the side of Jericho on the north side, and went up through the mountains westward; and the goings out thereof were at the wilderness of Bethaven. The border went over from there toward Luz, to the side of Luz, which is Bethel, southward; and the border descended to Atarothadar, near the hill that lies on the south side of the nether Bethhoron. The border was drawn there, and compassed the corner of the sea southward, from the hill that lies before Bethhoron southward; and the goings out at Kirjathbaal, which is] Kirjathjearim, a city of the children of Judah: this was the west quarter. The south quarter was from the end of Kirjathjearim, and the border went out on the west, and went out to the well of waters of Nephtoah. The border came down to the end of the mountain that lies before the valley of the son of Hinnom, which is in the valley of the giants on the north, and descended to the valley of Hinnom, to the side of Jebusi on the south, and descended to Enrogel, was drawn from the north, and went to Enshemesh, and went toward Geliloth, which is over against the going up of Adummim, and descended to the stone of Bohan the son of Reuben, and passed along toward the side over against Arabah northward, and went down unto Arabah. The border passed along to the side of Bethhoglah northward, and the outgoings of the border were at the north bay of the salt sea at the south end of Jordan. This was the south coast. Jordan was the border of it on the east side. This was the inheritance of the children of Benjamin, by the coasts thereof round about, according to their families. The cities of the tribe of the children of Benjamin according to their families were Jericho, and Bethhoglah, the valley of Keziz, Betharabah, Zemaraim, Bethel, Avim, Parah, Ophrah, Chepharhaammonai, Ophni, Gaba; twelve cities with their villages: Gibeon, Ramah, Beeroth, Mizpeh, Chephirah, Mozah, Rekem, Irpeel, Taralah, Zelah, Eleph, Jebusi, which is Jerusalem, Gibeath, and Kirjath; fourteen cities with their villages. This is the inheritance of the children of Benjamin according to their families. (Joshua 18:11-28).
Moses blessed the children of Israel before his death. The blessing given to Benjamin was “And of Benjamin he said, The beloved of the LORD shall dwell in safety by him; and the LORD shall cover him all the day long, and he shall dwell between his shoulders.” (Deuteronomy 33:12).
The children of Israel and the congregation were gathered together as one man, from Dan even to Beersheba, with the land of Gilead, unto the LORD in Mizpeh. They presented themselves in the assembly of the people of God.
The children of Benjamin heard that the children of Israel had gone up to Mizpeh. The children of Israel were to consider the wickedness that was done at Gibeah.
There was a woman who was slain. Her Levite husband answered that he came into Gibeah that belonged to Benjamin, him and his concubine, to lodge. The men of Gibeah rose against him and surrounded the house at night. They thought to have slain him. They took the man’s concubine, and cut her in pieces, and sent her throughout all the country of the inheritance of Israel: for they have committed lewdness and folly in Israel. This man asked advice and counsel of all the children of Israel. The decision of the children of Israel was to not go to their dwelling place. They would go to Gibeah by lots against it.
All the men of Israel were gathered against the city. They demanded the men, the children of Belia which are in Gibeah, to be delivered to them. They were to be put to death to put away the evil from Israel.
The children of Benjamin would not hearken to the voice of their brothers, the children of Israel. The children of Benjamin gathered themselves together out of the cities unto Gibeah, to go out to battle against the children of Israel. Among all these people there were seven hundred chosen men left handed; every one could sling stones at an hair breadth, and not miss.
The children of Israel arose, and went up to the house of God, and asked counsel of God, and said which of us shall go up first to the battle against the children of Benjamin? The LORD said Judah shall go up first. The men of Israel went out to battle against Benjamin; and the men of Israel put themselves in array to fight against them at Gibeah. The children of Benjamin came forth out of Gibeah, and destroyed down to the ground of the Israelites that day twenty and two thousand men the first day.
The children of Israel went up and wept before the LORD until even, and asked counsel of the LORD, saying, Shall I go up again to battle against the children of Benjamin my brother? And the LORD said, Go up against him. The children of Israel came near against the children of Benjamin the second day. Benjamin went forth against them out of Gibeah the second day, and destroyed down to the ground of the children of Israel again eighteen thousand men; all these drew the sword.
All the children of Israel, and all the people, went up, and came unto the house of God, and wept, and sat there before the LORD, and fasted that day until even, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD.
Again the children of Israel inquired of the LORD if they should go out to battle against the children of Benjamin or cease. The LORD said to go up for tomorrow He would deliver them into their hands. Israel set ambushers to lie in wait round about Gibeah. The children of Israel went up against the children of Benjamin on the third day, and put themselves in array against Gibeah, as at other times. The children of Benjamin went out against the people, and were drawn away from the city. They began to slay the people and kill them like at other times. The children of Benjamin said, they are smitten down before us, as at the first.
Israel fled and drew the children of Benjamin from the city unto the highways. The LORD smote Benjamin before Israel. The children of Israel destroyed of the Benjamites that day. The children of Israel enclosed the Benjamites round about, and chased them, and trod them down with ease over against Gibeah toward the sunrising. The Benjamites turned and fled toward the wilderness unto the rock of Rimmon: and they gleaned of them in the highways five thousand men; and pursued hard after them unto Gidom, and slew two thousand men of them. There were six hundred men that turned and fled to the wilderness unto the rock Rimmon, and abode in the rock Rimmon four months. The men of Israel turned again upon the children of Benjamin, and smote them with the edge of the sword, as well the men of every city, as the beast, and all that came to hand: also they set on fire all the cities that they came to.
The men of Israel had sworn in Mizeph that none of them would give their daughters to a Benjamite to marry. The children of Israel were worried about the inheritance for those that escaped of Benjamin, that a tribe be not destroyed out of Israel. They could not give their daughters to the remaining of the tribe of Benjamin or they would be cursed.
The children of Israel said, Behold, there is a feast of the LORD in Shiloh yearly in a place which is on the north side of Bethel, on the east side of the highway that goes up from Bethel to Shechem, and on the south of Lebonah. They commanded the children of Benjamin, saying, Go and lie in wait in the vineyards. The daughters of Shiloh come out to dance in dances, then come ye out of the vineyards, and catch you every man his wife of the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin. The children of Benjamin did so, and took them wives, according to their number, of them that danced, whom they caught: and they went and returned unto their inheritance, and repaired the cities, and dwelt in them.
The children of Israel departed there at that time, every man to his tribe and to his family, and they went out from there every man to his inheritance. It was in those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes. (Judges 20-21).