26th of Tamuz, 5774
Parashat Masei


Benjamin

בִּנְיָמִין

Benjamin

Quick Facts

Father Jacob
Mother Rachel
Sons Ard,
Ashbeli,
Becher,
Bela,
Chuppim,
Echi,
Gera,
Muppim,
Naaman,
and Rosh

Youngest son of Jacob and Rachel, who died shortly after giving birth to him near Ephrath in Bethlehem.

Rachel named her son Ben-oni (“son of my sorrow”) but Jacob changed the name to Benjamin (“son of my right hand”), the right hand being the place of honor (Genesis 48:14, Jacob’s blessing of Ephraim and Menasseh).

Benjamin was not sent down to Egypt to buy corn during the famine in Canaan but was later sent to Egypt at Joseph’s command. Joseph deliberately placed a silver cup in Benjamin’s sack as the brothers were leaving for Hebron and had them arrested for theft, intending to keep Benjamin in Egypt with him, but Judah intervened offering himself as hostage instead. Joseph revealed his true identity and Jacob and the rest of their family, including Benjamin’s ten sons, settled in Egypt.

Benjamin Family Tree

On his deathbed, Jacob blessed each of his sons in turn, calling Benjamin “a vicious wolf” (Genesis 49:27).

Benjamin’s descendants formed the tribe of Benjamin. The tribe of Benjamin at the Exodus was the second-smallest.

After entering the Promised Land, Benjamin received the smallest of the allotments of the Tribal Lands (Joshua 18:11-20). Their territory was located immediately to the south of Ephraim, measuring about 26 miles (42 kilometers) in length and 12 miles (20 kilometers) wide. Their eastern boundary was the The Jordan River, and their major cities included part of Jerusalem (Joshua 18:21-28).

The Benjamin Gate, on the north side of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 37:13), was so named because it led in the direction of the territory of the tribe of Benjamin.