BENJAMIN , a tribe of
See also:Israel, named after the youngest son of Jacob and
See also:Rachel . As distinct from the others Benjamin was
See also:born not beyond the
See also:Jordan but in
See also:Palestine, between
See also:Bethel and Ephrath . His
See also:mother, dying in childbed, gave him the name
See also:Ben-oni, " Son of my sorrow," which was changed by his
See also:father to Benjamin, meaning probably " Son of the right
See also:hand " (i.e . " of prosperity," or, perhaps, " son of the south "; Gen.
See also:xxxv . 16-18) . Of his
See also:history little is recorded . He was the favourite of his father and
See also:brothers (with which contrast the spirit of the stories in Judg. xix.-xxi.), and the reputation of fierceness ascribed to him in the blessing of Jacob (" Benjamin is a
See also:wolf that teareth," Gen. xlix . 27) agrees with what is told of the tribe's warriors (see EHUn,
See also:SAUL, JONATHAN) . It IS a curious feature that its noted slingers were said to be
See also:left-handed (Judg . xx . 16, cf. iii . 15) and even ambidextrous (1 Chron. xii .
2) . The
See also:late references to this tribe in the Israelite wanderings in the
See also:wilderness are of little value . On entering Palestine it is allotted a portion encompassed by the districts of
See also:Dan and
See also:Judah . In the
See also:time of the "
See also:judges " the tribe of Benjamin was almost exterminated (see JUDGES,
See also:BOOK OF), 600 men alone escaping (Judges xix. sqq.) . The tribe was built up again by the rape of the maidens of Shiloh at one of their
See also:annual festivals (for which cf . Judges ix . 27), but a later narrative gives currency to a tradition that 400 virgins were also brought to Shiloh, the survivors of a
See also:massacre of the inhabitants of Jabesh-
See also:Gilead . At all events, Benjamin claimed the
See also:honour of providing the
See also:king of Israel whose heroic deliverance of Jabesh-Gilead is referred to elsewhere (see SAUL), and it is noteworthy that the tribe only now attain
See also:historical importance . If the genealogies associated it with
See also:Joseph the father of Ephraim and
See also:Manasseh, its fortunes were for a time bound up with the
See also:kingdom (see
See also:DAVID) . Although its territory lies open on the west and east, its
See also:physical features unite it to Judah, and what is known of its mixed population 1 makes it difficult to determine how far the youngest of the tribes of Israel enjoyed any
See also:independent position previous to the
See also:monarchy . Its neutral position between Judah and Ephraim gave it an importance which was religious as well as
See also:political . Anathoth the home of Abiathar and
See also:Gib eon the old Canaanite sanctuary, the royal sanctuary at Bethel, its associations with
See also:Samuel and the prophetic
See also:gilds of the times of Elijah and Elisha, and finally Jerusalem itself, the centre of worship, give " the least of all the tribes " a unique value in the history of Old Testament religion .
See H . W .Hogg, Ency . Bib., col . 534 sqq . (S . A .
BENJAMIN OF TUDELA (in Navarre)
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