[b-hebrew] Genesis 20: 1

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Thu Oct 11 01:15:24 EDT 2007

In fact, and I'm sure that you know this, in 18th century BCE Mari there 
were two tribes that lived near the city: those who lived to its north were 
called "Bene Samaal", and those you lived to its south were "Bene Yamin". If 
you assume that the eponymous ancestors of the tribes were not "real" 
people, but rather representative figures, then "Son of the South" would be 
an apt name for the ancestor of the southernmost tribe of "Israel" (not 
including Judah, and without getting into the question of when these 
traditions developed).

On the other hand, Gen. 35:18 gives another explaination for the name 
"Benjamin": as Rachel was dying in childbirth, she called her child "Ben 
Oni". This can mean either "Son of my sorrow" or "Son of my strength". 
"Yamin", meaning the right hand, also means "strength", so Jacob, by calling 
him "Binyamin", preserved the more positive meaning of his dead wife's 

Yigal Levin

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Isaac Fried" <if at math.bu.edu>
To: "Yaakov Stein" <yaakov_s at rad.com>
Cc: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Thursday, October 11, 2007 6:58 AM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Genesis 20: 1

> Yaakob,
> You are saying:
> "Benjamin is definitely the "son of the south", with south referring
> to he fact
> that he is the only son born in Canaan, to the south of Aram Naharaim."
> Do you know of any other instance of a person having such a
> geographically-relativistic name?
> Isaac Fried, Boston University
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