Benjamin

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Benjamin (Hebrew: בִּנְיָמִין, Modern Binyamin Tiberian Binyāmîn בִּנְיָמִין) was the last-born of Jacob's twelve sons in Judaism, Christianity and Islam.[1] He was the founder of the Israelite Tribe of Benjamin. In the Biblical account, unlike Rachel's first son, Joseph, Benjamin was born in Canaan. He died in Egypt on the 11th of Marcheshvan (which was also his birthday) 1443 BC at the age of 111.[citation needed]. In the Qur'an, Benjamin is referred to as righteous young child, who remained with Jacob when the older brothers plotted against Joseph.

Contents

Name

According to the Torah, Benjamin's name arose when Jacob deliberately corrupted the name Benoni, the original name of Benjamin, since Benoni was an allusion to Rachel's dying just after she had given birth, as it means son of my pain.[2] Textual scholars regard these two names as fragments of naming narratives coming from different sources - one being the Jahwist and the other being the Elohist.[3]

The etymology of the name Benjamin is a matter of dispute, though most agree that it is composed of two parts - ben and jamin - the former meaning son of. The literal translation of Benjamin is son of right (as opposed to left), generally interpreted as meaning son of my right hand, though sometimes interpreted as son of the right side. Being associated with the right hand side was traditionally a reference to strength and virtue (cf sinister, which derives from the latin for left). This is, however, not the only literal translation, as the root for right is identical to that for south, hence Benjamin also literally translates as son of the south. This meaning is advocated by several classical rabbinical sources, which argue that it refers to the birth of Benjamin in Canaan, as compared with the birth of all the other sons of Jacob in Aram.[4] Modern scholars have instead proposed that, with the eponymous Benjamin being just a metaphor, son of the south/son of the right are references to the tribe's being subordinate to the more dominant tribe of Ephraim.[4]

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