The Tribe Of Benjamin
He was the only one of Jacob’s sons not to know his Mother. He was the only one to grow up not knowing Jacob before widowhood. Those two things may seem elementary, but they defined, at least the early life of Benjamin.
His brother Joseph, for a short time, got to know his Mother. As a Momma’s boy, I can’t imagine how Benjamin felt. How his Mother’s life affected him, though he never remembered hearing her voice. I believe he never heard her name spoken by his Dad, without hearing the sorrow associated with her loss.
That had to affect every second of his life, every moment of his future. I wonder, who filled the gap as a Mother figure for him? Who dried his tears? Who cared for him when he was sick, or hurting. You see, I love my baby boy, but when he doesn’t feel good, he wants his Momma.
Who held Benjamin? Who comforted him? Who encouraged him? Who told him it would be okay? These are questions I can’t answer, but I can tell you this, he was loved of his Father. We talk a lot about how much Jacob loved Joseph, and he did, but he desperately wanted to hold on to Benjamin.
Yes, he had suffered loss with Joseph, but Benjamin was his baby. Benjamin was the last link between him and Rachel. I wonder if he looked like his Momma? I know that Jacob would not send Benjamin until as a last resort, and when he did, he used a word, bereaved.
Genesis 43:14 (ESV)
14 May God Almighty grant you mercy before the man, and may he send back your other brother and Benjamin. And as for me, if I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.”
Bereaved means to miscarry. Jacob essentially was saying, after all of this, if I lose him, it will be as if I miscarried. If I lose him now, I’ve lost his Mother, his brother Joseph, his brother Simeon who was a prisoner, and him. It’s a word that means miscarry, barren, and rob.
Jacob was saying I would be robbed of my children. Now, we know that didn’t happen. We know he was instead, reunited with all of his children, but we’ve talked about Joseph, this chapter is about Benjamin.
Benjamin the boy, had become a man while Joseph was away. He was the youngest, but he was a man. We know this because, by the time he went to Egypt with all of Israel, he had ten sons. Before that trip though, he went to meet the Prime Minister Of Egypt.
Genesis 44:2 (ESV Strong’s)
2 and put my cup, the silver cup, in the mouth of the sack of the youngest, with his money for the grain.” And he did as Joseph told him.
Benjamin didn’t know it was Joseph, but Joseph knew Benjamin was coming. Ironically, it was my brother Tyler who pointed out something concerning the cup and Benjamin I had never seen before. First though, the cup from ancient times, was a symbol of fellowship.
I believe this was the message that Joseph was communicating with Benjamin. If Joseph is a type of Christ, then was this not pointing to the cup of fellowship God shared with us through Salvation?
The cup was significant to Joseph too, as a sign of deliverance. It was the Cupbearer, or Butler of Pharaoh, who made Pharaoh aware of Joseph. Later, Joseph uses a cup to make a connection with his younger brother.
My younger brother also directed me to Nehemiah. Just as rescue came from the conversation a king to an Israelite, another king during the time of Nehemiah, would grant freedom to the one who was connected to a cup.
It was not that Nehemiah was a Benjamite, he most likely of Judah, but the cup was a symbol. God will extend fellowship and mercy through unexpected people and places to fulfill you destiny. The last thing Benjamin expected to find in his baggage, was the Prime Minister’s cup.
Benjamin must have thought he would end up dead in Egypt, when the Egyptian servant pulled that cup out of his bag. Yet, Benjamin’s destiny did not lie in death in Egypt, but in his life with his brother.
Benjamin would go to live in Egypt, but Egypt was not part of Benjamin. Benjamin was Joseph’s brother, blood was the only reason he was there. It was also the only reason he was still alive, with a famine across the known world. That connection with Joseph, elevated Benjamin in the eyes of all the Egyptians. People in Egypt viewed him as important, Joseph viewed him as family.
As a Christian, depending on circumstance, influence, and the worlds’ condition, people will view you differently. At times, they will seek your favor. At times, they will seek your defeat. At times, they will seek your destruction, but it will all be connected to your relationship with The One that Joseph was a type and shadow of, The Lord Jesus.
Never allow the opinions of others, to become more important to you than your love for God. Their opinions are fleeting, His devotion was so powerful, it produced Calvary. Christ not only was born to die, He made the hill He died on, for you and I. He also made the cave that became a borrowed tomb.
Why do we worry about the temporary, and the opinions of others, when we hold The Eternal One? More importantly, He holds us. If God is for us, then who can be against us?
When a new king arose that knew not Joseph, Benjamin, and all of Israel went from favored to feared. They went from en vogue, to endangered. They went from welcome guests, to slaves. Benjamin’s relationship with Joseph never changed, but the way Joseph and his family were viewed did.
The same thing is happening in the world today. Christians are being viewed with more and more suspicion, distrust, and disapproval. What seemed unheard of, even five years ago, is prevalent today. How should we respond, the same way Benjamin did, by loving God, loving his family, and being true to who he was.
You see, Benjamin was Rachel’s son. Rachel means Ewe. Jacob means heel holder, but Israel means Prince Of God. When you’re Father is God’s Prince, and your Mother is one of God’s sheep, guess what that makes you? No matter how you dress us up, we are to be sheep of The Most High God. You may have been a heel holder before conversion, but now we are children of God!
We should be committed to what is right, but that is not to say we should be political, argumentative, or antagonistic. You don’t read of any arguments Benjamin got into with the Egyptians. All he did, was proclaim who he was related too.
The Lord Jesus said, “By this, shall all men know that you are My disciples, in that you have love one for another.” Don’t worry so much about getting your point across, or winning an argument. Focus on sharing Jesus, and letting everyone win by knowing Him through you.
2 Timothy 2:24 (KJV)
24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,
In this day of strife, and there is strife in every facet, every field, every corner, we are not called to strive, or argue with people. We are called to share The Word Of God in love. Never compromising His Word, but also never alienating anyone we’re trying to reach.
Mark 6:20 (KJV)
20 For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.
John The Baptist preached against what Herod was doing, but Herod liked John The Baptist. The Bible says he feared, or was in awe and reverence of him, and did many things for him. Now, in the end Herod made the wrong choice, and John remained faithful, but Herod liked John.
Pharoah liked Jacob, and loved what Joseph had done for him, but one day, both the family of Joseph, Jacob, and Benjamin would leave Egypt. They would be followed by another Pharoah. They left on dry land, and Pharoah drowned in the sea. Yet, Egypt had a testimony of a Joseph who, before judgement occurred, had saved Egypt from starvation.
Our calling is not to judge, our calling to minister to. To share God’s Word in love, and try to reach every soul we can, before that great and notable day of The Lord come. There would be a reckoning for Egypt, but it would not come by the hand of Jacob, Joseph, or Benjamin. It would come by the Hand of The One who made Jacob, Joseph, and Benjamin.
Genesis 49:27 (KJV Strong’s)
27 Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf: in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil.
Jacob would describe Benjamin as a warrior, but just as we are not called to fight flesh and blood, Benjamin was not the type of warrior to ravage those around him. This prophecy scholars believe, like many of his brothers, applies to the future of the family.
There would be warriors in Benjamin, and Benjamin would need to instill some things in his family, that must never be forgotten. The same is true of our Christian walk. As our Pastor Denny Livingston was saying Sunday, we must pass on to the next generation what we have been entrusted with!
When you review the Benjamites, many names come to mind, but one in particular, we must visit. His name was Saul, the son of Kish. I do not come to judge Saul, I’m no man’s judge, in fact, I only feel sorrow when I read his story. I don’t know where things went wrong for him. I have an opinion, and I’ll share it, but not to judge, to warn.
1 Samuel 9:5-6 (ESV)
5 When they came to the land of Zuph, Saul said to his servant who was with him, “Come, let us go back, lest my father cease to care about the donkeys and become anxious about us.”
6 But he said to him, “Behold, there is a man of God in this city, and he is a man who is held in honor; all that he says comes true. So now let us go there. Perhaps he can tell us the way we should go.”
1 Samuel 3:20 (ESV)
20 And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the LORD.
It goes back, not to the bleating of sheep, not to the jealousy of David, not to the pride of a king, but to the first time we meet him. In 1 Samuel 9, a servant has to tell Saul who Samuel is. Yet six chapters earlier, The Bible tells us all Israel knew that Samuel was a Prophet of God.
Does this mean that Saul’s Dad never told him about Samuel? Is it possible that one reason Saul found it so easy to discard the words of the Prophet, were because his Dad never instilled the knowledge, respect, and reverence that he should have in a young Saul? I’m not trying to justify Saul, or judge his Dad, but it’s clear here that something wasn’t clear to Saul.
Could this have affected his hearing of God’s commands? He heard the words, but is this why they didn’t carry the weight they should? When God spoke, David was in awe. I don’t recall reading the same of Saul, even on his best day.
As a Father, which is a running theme of this book, this terrifies me, and charges me. We must make sure our children both know God, and the leaders God has chosen to lead His Church. We must make sure that their words are treated as powerful, not only for our salvation, but that of our children, and grandchildren.
Saul, even with all his faults, was a warrior. Rather than dwell on the son of Kish, let’s fast forward in time. Let’s keep the name the same, as Bishop Livingston used to say, let’s just change Testaments. Let’s go from Saul of Gibeah, to Saul of Tarsus, also a Benjamite.
Philippians 3:5 (ESV)
5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee;
I wonder if the two Sauls were related? Would it not be poetic if the descendant of Jonathan, became one of the most powerful Apostles of The Son Of David? I don’t know of course, but it would not surprise me if that were the case.
Either way, this Saul of Tarsus was a Benjamite. Yes, God changed his name, from Saul to Paul, but when He called him, his name was Saul. Saul means desired, Paul means little. Saul, a man in the Old Testament was desired, yet because of sin amounted to little. Paul, through God, learned little is much when God is with us. Saul of Gibeah warred after the flesh, Paul warred after The Spirit.
It is a clear parallel. Have you failed to accomplish something? Perhaps it’s because, like Saul, we were trying to accomplish it through our own might. If so, I would encourage you to try again, this time relying on God. His direction, His wisdom, His will, and His strength.
What you and I cannot do in the battles of a lifetime, God can grant in a moment of time! God showed in these two men what God can do when we can’t. Some scholars have applied the prophecies of the Prince and the Prophet to them both.
Genesis 49:27 (ESV Strong’s)
27 “Benjamin is a ravenous wolf, in the morning devouring the prey and at evening dividing the spoil.”
Deuteronomy 33:12 (ESV Strong’s)
12 Of Benjamin he said, “The beloved of the LORD dwells in safety. The High God surrounds him all day long, and dwells between his shoulders.”
John Gill writes how Saul, king of Israel reflected this prophecy in his early days. Yet, he goes further, explaining that early Christian writers applied both Genesis 49:27 and Deuteronomy 33:12 to the Apostle Paul. The writers say verse twenty seven reflects Paul’s life before and after conversion.
In his early life, a ravenous persecutor, and later dividing the spoil, or rescuing souls from sin. Moses’ prophecy could very well describe the apostle Paul. In fact, it could be a description of how God wants to dwell with all of His people.
2 Timothy 4:6-8 (ESV Strong’s)
6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.
7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
Whether you apply this to the Apostle or not, it cannot be argued that this Soldier Of The Cross fought passionately, lived faithfully, and left this world victorious. I pray that 2 Timothy 4:6-8, which was spoken by that soldier and Benjamite, will apply to all of us.
Other writers said that these two prophecies referred to the fact that The Temple stood in the area, originally allotted to Benjamin, and to the morning and evening sacrifice. As God is a God of type and shadow, it could very well apply to both.
I would like to direct you to a connection between Benjamin, Judah, and Levi, it can be illustrated through the city of Gibeon. It was this city, originally the home of the Gibeonites, that was allotted to Benjamin, and was ordained for the Priests, the family of Aaron, to live in.
It was here that the generals of David and Ishbosheth, the son of Saul would meet. Joab and Abner would direct the soldiers to fight there. David later defeated the Philistines at Gibeon. He also appointed Zadok the Priest to minister at Gibeon.
It was at this city of Benjamites, and Levites, that Solomon would come to worship, and dream a dream. Jeremiah would confront a false prophet there. People from Gibeon would come to Jerusalem in the time of Nehemiah, to help rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
Gibeon means hill city. A city that is set on a hill, cannot be hid. This city housed many great events, welcomed great men, and there they worshipped Our Great God. It was tied, much like the three tribes themselves, to Benjamin, Levi, and Judah.
When the kingdom split, and Judah followed the family of David, so did those of Levi who ministered to The Lord. In Judah, where the Temple was housed, the Levites held to The Lord. The Bible says the other tribe, besides Judah to remain loyal to Rehoboam, the grandson of David, was Benjamin.
It’s sort of ironic, that the family of King Saul would choose David, until you understand, before his sin, even Saul chose David. When you are seeking to live for God, you will navigate towards His leaders, and not away from them.
When you combine the majesty of Judah, with the anointing of Levi, and the tenacity of Benjamin, it produces a force that can change the world. God’s anointing, God’s leadership, and yielding our might to His will and way, will build things we could never imagine otherwise.
I would also point out, that Gibeon, the city given to Benjamin, then assigned to the Priests, and appointed by David as a place of worship, housed the Gibeonites. These Hivites, who became part of Israel, were Gentiles. I’ve written about them in another book, Famous, but I’ll mention this here.
When you mix Gentiles with Benjamites, Levites, and Judah, does it remind you of anyone? Perhaps a Benjamite, born in Tarsus, raised in Jerusalem, who met The Lion Of The Tribe Of Judah, on the road to Damascus, and went to Rome to carry The Gospel. The Apostle Paul, God’s Apostle to the Gentiles, is it any wonder now, that he was a Benjamite?
Benjamin was the last son of Israel. In the New Testament, which was primarily written by the Apostle Paul, is largely a Benjamite book. This Benjamite rightly divided The Word Of Truth.
Like Benjamin, Paul’s life was far from easy. He would face death in a foreign city, because of His relationship with Jesus. Some Commentators say he was anointed all the way to the chopping block, talking to God.
Did Paul regret it, oh no, for Paul to was connected to a cup. Only this cup was far more precious than silver. For it was The Cup Of Christ. It was Paul who taught Communion. Another Benjamite, connected to a cup.
This Benjamite, this cup He received from The One Joseph pointed to, inspired him to face everything from stoning to shipwreck. What was one last battle? Paul was a warrior, and he proved that we all can change the world, if we love God, and give our lives to Him. In this sense, may we all follow the example of the greatest Benjamite of all.