Biblical People

Biblical People: Benjamin (1)

Jacob’s eleven sons and daughter Dinah are all born while he works for his uncle Laban. After twenty years, God sends Jacob and his family back to Canaan. This is where Jacob’s twelfth and final son, Benjamin, is born.

His arrival marks a bittersweet moment, however, for Jacob’s beloved wife Rachel dies during childbirth. In this one moment he gains a son and loses a wife.

This means Benjamin grows up without a mom. Though he effectively has three stepmothers, Scripture doesn’t say if any of them attempt to mother him. Bilhah, as Rachel’s handmaid, would be the logical choice, continuing to serve her mistress even after her death.

But we don’t know if she assumes this role or not. Though we can surmise that all three women care for Benjamin’s physical needs, we don’t know if anyone tries to fill the supportive role of mother.

Though Rachel is gone, sons Joseph and Benjamin live on, embodying her memory to their father. When Joseph’s brothers sell Joseph as a slave and convince Jacob he is dead, Jacob coddles Benjamin even more, as the last living connection to Rachel’s memory.

Given this, it’s understandable that Jacob objects when the Egyptian ruler (later revealed as Joseph) insists the brothers bring Benjamin to Egypt. Nonetheless, Jacob eventually relents, knowing a return trip is necessary to secure the food they need to survive.

Although the Bible tells us much about the older brother, Joseph, it reveals little about the younger brother, Benjamin.

There are, however, three notable people in Scripture who are Benjamin’s descendants. One is King Saul, Israel’s first ruler (1 Samuel 9:1, 16). The others are Mordecai and Esther, also known as Hadassah, who becomes queen (Esther 2:5–17). We’ll cover all three in upcoming chapters.

If we’re the youngest or ever consider ourselves to be the least, are we willing to let God’s perspective inform our self-image? What role does God want us to play in our family? 

[Read Benjamin’s story throughout Genesis 42–45. Discover more in Genesis 35:18 and 49:27.]

Learn about more biblical characters in Old Testament Sinners and Saints, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover. Get your copy today.

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 1,000-page website to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and many books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

By Peter DeHaan

Peter writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and make a faith that matters. Learn more at