Tribe of Benjamin: A Redemption Story Across Scripture

The Tribe of Benjamin has an amazing story of tragedy and redemption in Scripture.

In Jacob's blessing, to the younger brother of Joseph he said:

Benjamin is a ravenous wolf; in the morning he devours the prey, in the evening he divides the plunder

Kind of a rough blessing from your dad. We don't know that much about his story. It seems his mom died giving birth to him. He was especially protected after Joseph "died". Joseph never really knew him but used him as a set up in his dinner surprise.

What happens to Benjamin?

Well, the next time we see much from Benjamin is at the beginning of Judges. The left-handed assassin who kills the super fat guy was from Benjamin. Ehud.

But then we see them at the end of Judges and it's not so good.

Judges has many repeat stories in Scripture to highlight how far Israel has fallen:

- Gideon repeats the Golden calf by taking and making a golden ephod

- Jephthah repeats the sacrifice of Isaac with his daughter, except not the way it was supposed to go

- There's a massacre at Shechem, just like when Levi and Simeon massacred there after what happened to their sister

- And the worst of all, we see Sodom and Gomorrah repeated at the end. Except unlike in Sodom, there are no angels.

The worst part though is the traveling man whose concubine gets brutally destroyed was looking for a place to stay and SKIPPED pagan Jerusalem to stay in Benjamin's territory.

This leads to a final repeat. Judges opens with the tribes asking God who should go to war, and ends with the same asking. But instead of asking God who will go destroy Canaanites, it ends with them asking who will destroy Benjamin.

Benjamin is nearly wiped out by this but a few men survive and steal wives to survive.

Now the next part is unexpected. From this nearly destroyed, ruined tribe comes king Saul. Saul specifically states he's from the lowest family of the lowest tribe. Yet Saul is made king.

But we all know how that goes. Out of a fear of what others think and a refusal to make God his God, he falls a part.

One of the sins that Saul is specifically punished for is not killing the king Agag.

After Saul is removed his family has a civil war with David. They start with all the tribes on their side, but within three years everyone has sided with David. All that was left was one son, Ish-bosheth, who gets murdered. Although Mephibosheth is remembered and given a place at David's table.

Benjamin is at a new low point.

Now during David's census we see Joab is told to count all the tribes. He mysteriously leaves two tribes out of the census. The Levites and Benjamin. Why? Levites makes sense, you know a curse is coming, don't bring it on God's priests. But why not Benjamin? Based on how Joab acted in this chapter, my theory is he was worried that a plague falling on Benjamin with them as weak as they were would destroy them.

I'm open to other ideas. Could be they were so small and destroyed there wasn't enough to worry about counting perhaps.

Either way, next time we see them we see Benjamin sticking with Judah (and technically Simeon, lodged within Judah's lands) as the Kingdom splits. They seemed to have learned their lesson about going against Judah. They're the only tribe that's loyal to David's throne, which is a twist since they were once the tribe most opposed.

Now Benjamin basically fades for the rest of the Old Testament Narrative.

Until we get to the book of Esther. Where there, in Persian lands, we meet a man named Haman, an Agagite. Many believe he is a descendant of king Agag. And who will not bow to him? Mordecai, the Benjaminite.

This nearly leads to the end of all of Israel when Mordecai's niece Esther saves them.

And it is Haman, the Agagite, who is destroyed by the Benjaminite. His house is plundered and given over to Benjamin. And Israel defeats and has massive victory over their enemies.

Although Israel actually specifically doesn't lay their hands on the plunder of their enemies during this destruction.

There is one last son of Benjamin that Scripture tells us about in any detail. He was a man who, like the Tribe of Benjamin, had a really rough and violent start. But by the end redeems himself by being loyal to the King through it all.

4though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 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; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

- Philippians 3:4-6

How awesome is God's Word? It all fits together so amazingly and tells a beautiful story, doesn't it?

The ravenous wolf destroyed in the morning but in the evening was given the prize.