“Benjamin is a ravenous wolf,
in the morning devouring the prey,
in the evening still dividing the spoil.”
We’ve now finally arrived at the last and youngest son Benjamin.
As with some of the other sons, Benjamin’s blessing is very short, just one verse actually.
When doing my research on the history of this tribe, I came to the conclusion that Benjamin is a good example of how God can take normal people with all of their faults and shortcomings and achieve great things through them.
The history of this tribe is filled with much darkness but God was ultimately able to bring forth much sweet and soothing lemonade from this lemon of a tribe that at times demonstrated the worst of human behavior.
Recall that originally Benjamin’s mother Rachel named him “Ben-oni”, meaning “Son of my sorrow”.
This happened because Rachel endured much pain and ended up dying when she gave birth to Benjamin.
It was only later that his father changed his name to “Benjamin” which means “Son of my right hand”.
Recall later that Yeshua also was at first a “man of sorrows” but afterwards he was placed at the right hand of God.
There is a powerful spiritual lesson here.
While the world may see us and label us in one way, what’s of utmost importance is how our Father in Heaven sees and labels us.
Are you going to live out your life according to how this fallen world sees you or according to the great destiny your Father in Heaven has laid out for you?
So Jacob likens Benjamin to a wolf, a predator who is both vicious and merciless.
One key factor that contributed to the formation of Benjamin’s aggressive character is the piece of land they inherited.
They were situated between Ephraim and Judah, which turned them into a buffer state of sorts.
The narrow strip of land they occupied was right at the point where major north-south and east-west trade route highways passed.
These trade routes were a valuable source of income for Benjamin because they would attack and plunder merchant caravans passing through the area.
That’s right, Benjamin was at times a gang of tribal pillagers!
However, there is one defining incident that perfectly illustrates the ruthless nature of Benjamin and it’s told for us in the Book of Judges.
The Book of Judges took place at a particularly bad time for Israel.
We are told that “every man did that which was right in his own eyes”.
What happened was that one night in the city of Gibeah, an elderly man from the tribe of Ephraim who was temporarily residing in Benjamin territory took in a Levite traveler and his concubine who were seeking lodging for the night.
What happened next is almost a perfect replay of what occurred in Sodom and Gomorrah when a gang of rapists surrounded Lot’s house.
But this time it was a gang of Benjamite rapists and they demanded that the traveler be given to them so they could have their way with him.
In response, the man from Ephraim offered up his daughter or the concubine in order to protect the traveller.
Again, as unbelievable as this is to our modern day sensitivities, this was normal Middle Eastern hospitality in those times.
Well, these thugs ended up choosing the concubine and so abused her that she ended up dying.
Afterwards, the Levite cut up the corpse of the concubine into 12 pieces and sent one piece each to all the other tribes to let them know of the savagery that Benjamin had committed.
The other tribes of Israel were so outraged at what Benjamin had done that they sent an army to punish them.
To make a long story short, the coalition army of the other tribes annihilated the tribe of Benjamin to the point of near extinction.
The tribe of Benjamin never fully recovered after this devastation.
So that’s the “lemon” part concerning the tribe of Benjamin.
Now what about the “lemonade”?
What good has God wrought from this tribe?
Well, for starters, it might surprise you to know that Jerusalem, the Holy Capital, was originally in Benjamite territory.
Actually, there were many other significant cities that bordered Benjamite territory such as Bethel, Mizpah, Ramah and even Jericho.
Though maybe not such a positive example, the first king of Israel, King Saul was of the tribe of Benjamin.
Oh, here’s a good one.
Esther and Mordecai after whom the Jewish festival of Purim was established are from the tribe of Benjamin.
And finally, that one great apostle who single-handedly spread the Gospel to the Gentile world and whose writings today are read and studied all over the world is also a member of the tribe of Benjamin.
I’m talking about the Apostle Paul.
Minus the efforts of this great Benjamite, you may never had heard of Yeshua and the Gospel.
CONNECTING THIS TEACHING TO THE NEW TESTAMENT
“If someone else thinks they have reasons
to put confidence in the flesh,
I have more:
circumcised on the eighth day,
of the people of Israel,
of the tribe of Benjamin,
a Hebrew of Hebrews;
in regard to the law,
as for zeal,
persecuting the church;
as for righteousness based on the law,