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Benjamin (Hebrew: בנימין, Binyāmīn; Greek: Βενιαμίν, Beniāmīn; Latin: Beniamin; "Name means::son of my right hand"), (b. Born::Teveth 2266 AM), was the youngest son of Jacob, and the second (and final) son of Rachel. He was the ancestor of the Tribe of Benjamin. Benjamin was born during the journey that Jacob and his family took from Padan-aram to Canaan. (Genesis 31 )


Rachel probably conceived Benjamin in the spring of 2265 AM. This was the year in which Jacob fled in secret from Laban. The Bible says that this took place at sheep-shearing time,[1] which is always in the springtime.[2] (Genesis 31:19-20 ) Jones[3] records that the phrase "born to him in Padan-aram" that appears after the listing of Jacob's sons (Genesis 35:26 ) can also mean "engendered by him in Padan-aram." Benjamin was born on the road to Bethlehem, and therefore he must have been conceived in Padan-aram, though he was born in Canaan.

Ussher[4] disputes the notion that Benjamin may be counted among the sons born or engendered in Padan-aram. He suggests that the Apostles were also numbered twelve, though Judas Iscariot was dead by that time, (John 20:24 ) and cites Augustine of Hippo to support him. However, the text of Genesis 35:9-15 is a narrative that begins with a recapitulation of an earlier incident: the second appearance of God to Jacob and the renaming of Jacob to Israel. (Genesis 32:24-30 ) The story of the birth of Benjamin and the death of Rachel follows this narrative directly and is continuous with it. Therefore Benjamin must have been conceived shortly before the flight from Laban and born nine months later.

In any case, Benjamin cannot have been conceived earlier than the springtime. His mother stole some household idols (Hebrew: תרפים, terāphīm) from Laban, hid them in her saddle bag, and sat on them. When Laban came to search her tent, Rachel asked him to excuse her for not rising, because she was menstruating. That, of course, was a lie. But had she been obviously pregnant, she would not have been able to employ such a ruse.


Benjamin was born nine months following his conception, that is, in the winter of 2266 AM. Sadly, his mother Rachel died shortly thereafter. (Genesis 35:16-20 )

The Famine

Benjamin was ten years old when his older brother Joseph was kidnapped and sold into slavery ({{#show: Joseph|?Sold as slave}}). (Genesis 37 ) He probably did not participate in it because he was not yet an adult.

Twenty years later ({{#show: Famine in Egypt|?Began}}), he was a married man with an incredibly large family of ten sons: father of::Belah, father of::Becher, father of::Ashbel, father of::Gera, Naaman, father of::Ehi, father of::Rosh, father of::Muppim, father of::Huppim, and father of::Ard. (Genesis 46:21 ) When the famine struck, Benjamin probably felt it more acutely than most.

At first his other brothers went to Egypt without him, because their father Jacob held him back. But the second time, Judah reported that the viceroy of Egypt insisted, and quite sternly, that Benjamin must accompany them, or they would not be allowed to buy grain again. Judah offered to guarantee Benjamin's personal safety, and subject to that condition, Jacob consented for him to go.

The viceroy of Egypt received them grandly, and paid special attention to Benjamin. A few days later, the viceroy loaded them with all the grain they could carry and let them leave. But then they were arrested and brought back before the viceroy, who accused them of stealing a silver cup from his house. The soldiers proceeded to search the eleven men. Not only did they find all the money that the brothers had brought with them, but also—and worse than that—Benjamin's sack held the missing cup!

The viceroy announced that Benjamin would remain as his personal slave. But Judah interceded and told an incredible story of family shame and betrayal. This story was, of course, that of the sale of Joseph.

Then the viceroy ordered everyone else out of the room, and broke down and wept in front of them. Then he told them his name. He was none other than Joseph! Moreover, Joseph held nothing against his brothers, saying that he had to come to Egypt in order to become viceroy and save Egypt (and virtually the entire Middle East) from the famine, which then (2298 AM) had five years to run.

Joseph then sent the eleven men back to Jacob at the head of a wagon train, with an invitation to move to Egypt with all their households and take up residence in Goshen.

Entry into Egypt

On Entry into Egypt::Teveth 2298 AM, Benjamin, his wife, and his ten sons entered Egypt to live. He was 32 years old.

See Also

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  1. James Ussher, The Annals of the World, Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2003, pgh. 125
  2. Schoenian, Susan. "Sheep 101: Shearing." Sheep 101, November 15, 2006. Accessed November 11, 2008.
  3. Jones, Floyd N. The Chronology of the Old Testament. Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2004, pp. 64, 66, 68, 278, and Chart 3e
  4. Ussher, op. cit., pgh. 124