Tribal Characteristics of Saul and his Tribe
PART OF PROJECT BENJAMIN
Note: If you are interested in the Rabbis Quoted short biographical sketches are to be found at:
The name Binyamin means "Bin," i.e. son of, - "Yamin" aka Son of the South or Son of my Right(hand).
The Kings of England had the motto "Dieu et mon droit," i.e. "God and My Right."
Were any of them from Benjamin?
In Gemanic tongues (such as English) the word "right" oriignally meant "just, legal, correct." Fromt here it was later extended to mean the righthand side. In Hebrew it never had that connotation.
Nevertheless there may still be some kind of assocation since when the Kings of England used the word they stuck to it instead of using a synonym such as "due," "merit," etc., as if they wanted the double-meaning of both "righthand" and "legal due" to remain.
# The motto is said to have first been used by Richard I (1157-1199) as a battle cry and presumed to be a reference to his French ancestry (indeed he spoke French and Occitan but knew only basic English) and the concept of the divine right of the Monarch to govern.
# Richard wrote after his victory "It is not us who have done it but God and our right through us". So after his victories on the crusades "Richard was speaking what he believed to be the truth when he told the Holy Roman Emperor: 'I am born of a rank which recognises no superior but God'".
# It was adopted as the royal motto of England by King Henry V (1386 - 1422) with the phrase "and my right" referring to his claim by descent to the French crown.
Dieu et mon droit has been translated in several ways, including "God and my right", "God and my right hand", "God and my lawful right", and "God and my right shall me defend".
Binyamin in Biblical hebrew can also connote "Son of the South" since the term "right" also meant south. Directions were described from the point of view of a person facing eastward. The east was "Kedem" i.e. "forward," the south was yamin i.e. right; the west was "yam" i.e. Sea (the Mediterranean Sea is to the west); while north was "smal" i.e. left.
Rashi says that Benyamin can also mean "Son of Days." Jacob begat Binyamin in his old age. In Hebrew "Yamin" (as in "Bin-Yamin") is similar to "Yamim" meaning days and the "m" and N" sounds sometimes interchange when used at the end of a word.
Benjamin was born when his mother died giving birth to him.
16 AND THEY JOURNEYED FROM BETHEL; AND THERE WAS BUT A LITTLE WAY TO COME TO EHRATH: AND RACHEL TRAVAILED, AND SHE HAD HARD LABOUR.
17 AND IT CAME TO PASS, WHEN SHE WAS IN HARD LABOUR, THAT THE MIDWIFE SAID UNTO HER, FEAR NOT; THOU SHALT HAVE THIS SON ALSO.
18 AND IT CAME TO PASS, AS HER SOUL WAS IN DEPARTING, (FOR SHE DIED) THAT SHE CALLED HIS NAME BENONI: BUT HIS FATHER CALLED HIM BENJAMIN.
His mother called him "Ben-Oni." This can mean "Son of my Sorrow," and so it is usually understood.
It may also imply "Son of My Struggle" or "Son of My Prowess." The word "On" has different connotations. Rachel was the favorite wife of Jacob. Her sister Leah however was older than he, and had been the first wife that Jacob married. Leah also bore the more children. Rachel and Leah were struggling with each other concerning the attentions of Jacob and also over their relative stature within the Household. Bearing children was one of the determining factors in all this.
This may also reflect on the characteristics of Benjamin: Benjamin is conscious of his duties. He is prepared to make an effort. He helps others. He is sensitive concenring the feelings of others.
He is also sensitive concerning his own status and ASSERTIVE ABOUT HIS INBORN RIGHTS.
I noticed a Commentator (Rabbi Avraham Eliyahu Mokotow 1912 - 1976, aka "Eliyahu Ki Tov") point out that Benjamin was the younger son out of 12 brothers. Young males growing up can sometimes be quite primitive and even cruel to each other. As the youngest son he may have found himself the recipient of non-positive fraternal attention. Benjamin was too great a person to have allowed a complex to remain because of this but something incipient in that direction may have still been there.
A related point is that in a large family of boys the youngest son may not only be the most vulnerable but also at times the most favored of them all. Everyone likes him and he on his part will often develop a likeable personality. He after all is the one who need to establish a working relationship with al those older than himself. Joseph was the full brother of Benjamin. Scripture emphasizes that Jacob loved Joseph and favored him more, therefore the brothers were jealous (Genesis 37:4). The Bible also says that Jacob loved Benjamin (Genesis 42:48) and doted on him (44:22). Unlike Joseph the brothers do not seem to have resented the favoritism shown to Benjamin. On the contrary.
This leads to the type of personaliy who values getting along with others. He is attuned to the will and wishes of those around them rather than leading them. This attitude was to prove a weakness in the reign of King Saul.