What role did Benjamin play in the Bible?
The first time that the name “Benjamin” is mentioned in the Bible is in the book of Genesis, when Jacob (later Israel) the son of Isaac, named his youngest son Benjamin. The name Benjamin means “son of the right hand” (Genesis 35:18). Benjamin along with his other 11 brothers (Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Reuben, Zebulun, Joseph, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar) make up the 12 tribes of Israel. As time passed, the tribe of Benjamin grew very large in number, along with the other tribes as well. They would later be the 12 tribes of the nation of Israel once the land of Canaan was conquered.
During the leadership of Moses, God commanded Moses to gather all of the people of Israel according to their houses (tribes) and as they were counted for a census, the Benjamites (just the men 20 years old and older) were 35, 400 in number. Over the years, God had prospered the house of Benjamin, the son of Jacob and Rachael.
Al throughout the history of the nation of Israel, Benjamin has played an important role. Benjamin and his descendants continually fluctuated in their faithfulness to God over the years. They had some great experiences with God as well as some terribly disappointing times. In the Old Testament, in the book of Judges, God reveals a time of great disobedience on behalf of the Benjamites. The Benjamites did not fully drive out the Jebusites who were living in Jerusalem. The Benjamites allowed the Jebusites to live along side of them in Jerusalem, a practice which God did not allow at the time because the Jebusites were pagans and would lead the Benjamites into idolatry. In Judges we see that the Benjamites partook in open immorality and as a result, their entire tribe was almost wiped out as punishment from the Lord for their awful sin.
Later in Israel’s history, God chose the first king of Israel, Saul, from the tribe of Benjamin. He led the people for 40 years. Under Saul’s leadership, God led the Israelites to many victories over their enemies. Unfortunately, Saul did not remain a man after God’s own heart, like every king should be, so God had to remove the kingdom from Saul’s hand as punishment upon him and his family for their disobedience.
This tribe of Benjamin was once again blessed in the New Testament by having the great New Testament author and missionary Saul (the Apostle Paul) as a part of its heritage and lineage. (see Philippians 3:4-5) May the Lord bless the nation of Israel with true faith and salvation in Jesus Christ, as well as bless us with lots of obedience so we can live a life that is pleasing to God.