[b-hebrew] Fw: Re: Names of Rachel's Second-Born Son

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Thu Sep 29 09:44:13 EDT 2011


In trying to determine why Jacob called Rachel’s second-born son BN-YMYN, 
and whether chapter 37 of Genesis is a flashback that refers back to the time 
period right before the bloody Shechem incident and Benjamin’s birth, an 
important and highly informative source is the scholarly article written by 
our very own fine moderator, Prof. Yigal Levin, “Joseph, Judah and the ‘
Benjamin Conundrum’”.  I urge everyone to read this article, especially p. 237, 
on the Internet here:  
_http://biu.academia.edu/YigalLevin/Papers/185399/Joseph_Judah_and_the_Benjamin_Conundrum_ 
(http://biu.academia.edu/YigalLevin/Papers/185399/Joseph_Judah_and_the_Benjamin_Conundrum) 
 
Prof. Levin makes the following key points at p. 237 of his article [I have 
placed my own numbering in brackets in order to correlate with my own 
comments below]:
 
“The role of Benjamin, however, seems to be somewhat obscure.  [1] In the 
first place, there seems to be a question of whether he had been born when 
the story [chapter 37 of Genesis] begins.  [2] The story of Benjamin’s birth 
and the death of Rachel, while Jacob and family were still en-route from 
Bethel toward Bethlehem-Ephrathah, is told in Gen 35, 16-20.  [3] Joseph’s 
second dream (37, 9) seems to pre-suppose his having eleven brothers.  On the 
other hand, [4] verse 3 [of chapter 37 of Genesis] states that Joseph was Israel
’s youngest, born in his old age (כִּֽי־בֶן־זְקֻנִים הוּא לֹו
), and [5] Jacob’s reaction to the second dream (verse 10) also seems to 
presuppose that Joseph’s mother was still alive.  [FN 78:]  Some of the medieval 
commentators, in an attempt to harmonize these contradictions, [6] 
explained that the memory of Rachel’s death was the reason that Jacob did not lavish 
his love on Benjamin (Hezkuni), and that [7] his understanding of Joseph’s 
dream as including Rachel was what caused Jacob’s anger (Rashi).  [8] Others 
assumed the dream to refer to Bilhah, the dead Rachel’s handmaiden who had 
raised Joseph from youth.”
 
In my view, however, there are no “contradictions” at all.
 
1.  Benjamin is not born until shortly after Jacob is forcibly taken to 
Egypt.  Chapter 37 is a flashback.  That’s why the name “Benjamin” never 
appears in chapter 37 of Genesis.  When Benjamin is born in chapter 35 of 
Genesis, Joseph has already vanished from the family [and is in Egypt].
 
2.  Chapter 35 of Genesis physically appears before chapter 37 of Genesis, 
but chapter 35 of Genesis relates what happens in Year 13 tenfold [Year 130, 
being 130 years in 12-month years after Abraham’s birth], when Joseph was 
the equivalent of stated age 20 and was already in Egypt.  Chapter 37 of 
Genesis is a flashback, which starts when Joseph is stated age 17 [having 
witnessed 17 fall and spring New Years, and as such being a “boy”/nar per Genesis 
37: 2, age 8½ in 12-month years], which is Year 128.5, and ends about 12 
months later in Year 129.5, shortly before the bloody Shechem incident in 
chapter 34 of Genesis, which occurs in Year 130 [Year 13 tenfold;  historically, 
Shechem’s ruler was indeed assassinated in Year 13].  [The contemporary 
Hebrew audience could follow these numbers, so they knew right away from the 
Genesis 37: 2 reference to Joseph being stated age 17 that chapter 37 of 
Genesis was a flashback, since Joseph is the equivalent of stated age 20 in Year 
13 tenfold (and is in Egypt) when Benjamin is born in chapter 35 of Genesis. 
 Yes, Genesis 35: 22-26 lists the names of all 12 of Jacob’s sons, but it 
does not say that either Judah or Joseph were there at Shechem for the bloody 
Shechem incident, and they weren’t.  The narrator of course knows that 
Joseph is safe in Egypt, though Jacob did not know that.  Other than that 
listing of all 12 sons, the names “Judah” and “Joseph” do not appear in chapters 
34-35 of Genesis, because those two all-important sons had already left the 
family.] 
 
3.  At the time of Joseph’s second dream regarding 11 stars, Rachel is 
visibly pregnant, but has not yet given birth [with the birth happening quite a 
few weeks later].  Joseph’s dream understandably anticipates that his 
pregnant mother Rachel will give birth to a second son who will live to adulthood.
 
4.  Joseph was Jacob’s youngest son for 10 years [in 12-month years] from 
Year 120 until Year 130, when Benjamin was born.  Jacob was age 40 at Joseph’
s birth.  Joseph was always Jacob’s favorite son until Joseph disappeared.  
That was natural because Joseph was Jacob’s youngest son, and more 
importantly, Joseph during those 10 years was Jacob’s only son by Jacob’s favorite 
main wife, Rachel.
 
5.  Rachel is definitely alive at the time Joseph has his dream of 11 stars 
and the sun and the moon all bowing down to Joseph.  Chapter 37 is told as 
a flashback, going back to the time period a month or so before Benjamin’s 
birth.  [In chapter 35 of Genesis, Jacob is age 50 in 12-month years at 
Benjamin’s birth, being the same age as Abraham at Isaac’s birth.]
 
6.  Jacob  d-i-d  lavish his love on Benjamin, for the first 15 years of 
Benjamin’s life [until all the Hebrews were forced to go to Egypt, when Jacob 
is age 65 in 12-month years, which is stated age 130 per Genesis 47: 9;  
note that  a-l-l  the stated ages in the Patriarchal narratives make perfect 
sense in all ways;  Joseph is age 25 in 12-month years when all the Hebrews 
move to Egypt].  Benjamin was born a month or so after Joseph disappeared.  
All the love that Jacob had lavished on Joseph for 10 years was now lavished 
on Benjamin for the next 15 years [in 12-month years].  That was natural 
because Benjamin was Jacob’s youngest son, and more importantly, Benjamin during 
those 15 years was Jacob’s only son by Jacob’s [deceased] favorite main 
wife, Rachel, who, to the best of Jacob’s knowledge, was a son who was still 
alive.
 
7.  Jacob in fact was not particularly angry at Joseph’s dream, though such 
dream was presumptuous.  Rather, it was Joseph’s older half-brothers who 
understandably were outraged at Joseph’s dream, which definitely seemed to say 
that Joseph thought that Joseph would soon be ruling over all of them.  Why 
would such a dream be thought to make Jacob terribly mad?  Jacob in fact 
was unduly favoring Joseph at that point [the coat of many colors], and indeed 
was planning in due course at that point on eventually naming Joseph as 
Jacob’s successor.
 
8.  Bilhah had nothing to do with anything!  Joseph was raised by his birth 
mother, Rachel, who was pregnant with her second son when Joseph 
disappeared at age 9½ [in 12-month years, being the same age as Ishmael and Dinah when 
they were involuntarily separated from their father’s family;  that’s the 
equivalent of stated age 19, and is why the Koran has that famous sura “19 
is over it”].  Joseph never saw his mother again.  Joseph is age 10 [in 
12-month years, which is the equivalent of stated age 20] when he arrives in 
Egypt.  Joseph never got to see his only full-brother until the Hebrews came to 
Egypt 15 years after Joseph had disappeared.  [Chapter 46 of Genesis records 
every grandson Jacob ever had, including those many grandsons who were born 
after the Hebrews moved to Egypt.  Benjamin moves to Egypt at age 15 in 
12-month years, and sires all his sons after moving to Egypt.]
 
Please note that there are no contradictions whatsoever here, once one 
realizes that chapter 37 of Genesis is told as a flashback.  With Joseph 
recently having disappeared and being presumed dead, it is not surprising that a 
grieving Jacob spontaneously decided to call Rachel’s second-born son BN-YMYN, 
meaning that Jacob was planning in due course to put his “right hand”/YMYN 
on this one “son”/BN of Rachel to designate him as Jacob’s successor.  
That sequence makes perfect sense in all regards, once one realizes that Joseph 
is already gone, having recently vanished from the family.  It is Joseph’s 
recent absence, you see, that makes it sensible for Jacob to call Rachel’s 
second-born son BN-YMYN/“Son of my Right Hand”, that is, Jacob’s 
heir-apparent [whereas for the previous 10 years, prior to his recent disappearance, 
Joseph had been Jacob’s favorite son and heir-apparent].
 
There are  n-o  contradictions in chapters 37 and 35 of Genesis, which were 
composed in the Late Bronze Age by a single author who knew nothing about 
any later notion of an Exodus or a Conquest.  The Patriarchal narratives are 
much older, and more historically accurate, than university scholars realize.
 
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois  


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