[b-hebrew] Benjamin

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Sat Jul 3 19:09:36 EDT 2004

> > While I have no argument with all of your examples of sons' being their
> > fathers' "right hand", where in the Jacob story do you find that
> > ever filled this role?
> Why would that be required in order for Jacob to give him such a name as
> infant?

Absolutely nothing. But the text does not say that that's what the name
meant. And despite the possibility of Ben-Oni meaning "son of my sorrow", I
still think that the similarity in meaning of On/Yamin/Koax = "strength" is
to much of a coincidence. The biblical authors often used "puns" or
word-plays to get double meanings across.

What is clear, though, is that I read the Patriarchal stories as literary
compositions, in which the (later) Judahite author(s) combined traditions
and aetiologies to deliver a message about Israel's origins, you read them
as historical reports. In other words, while you ask "what did Jacob mean by
naming his son Benjamin?", I ask "what did the author mean by having his
character Jacob say those words?"


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