The Cross and its Shadow

While little is recorded of Benjamin as an individual, the tribe which bore his name acted a prominent part in the history of the children of Israel.

The character of the tribe seems to be portrayed by the prophetic words of Jacob in his parting blessing: Benjamin shall raven as a wolf: in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil. Genesis 49:27 These words do not describe an enviable character, but rather that of a child indulged and petted until it is self-willed and petulant, as one might expect the youngest son in a large family would be, with no mother to control him.

This same stubborn spirit was shown by the tribe of Benjamin fighting until they were nearly exterminated, rather than deliver up the wicked men of Gibeah, that they might be punished. Judges 20:12-48 Notwithstanding they were at this time reduced in number to six hundred, yet in the time of David they had again become a numerous tribe. 1 Chronicles 7:6-12

In the days of the judges, the Benjamites could furnish seven hundred men that could sling stones at a hair breadth, and not miss. Judges 20:16

About three hundred and fifty years later, we read that the mighty men of Benjamin could use both the right hand and the left in hurling stones and shooting arrows out of a bow. I Chronicles 12:1,2 The Benjamites were the only tribe which seemed to have pursued archery to any purpose, and their skill in the use of the bow and the sling was celebrated. I Chronicles 8:40; 2 Chronicles 17:17; 2 Samuel 1:22.

Benjamin's territory lay north of Judah's, the boundary, line between the two tribes running through the city of Jerusalem.

After the great crisis which resulted from the unfortunate transaction at Gibeah, Judges 19:14-39 there were many things that mould have a tendency to change the stubborn, self-willed nature of the tribe. For twenty years the sacred ark of the Lord remained within their borders, in Kirjath-jearim, with a priest to take charge of it. 1 Samuel 7:1,2

Ramah, a city of Benjamin, was the home of Samuel the prophet, who had an altar built unto the Lord in this place, and offered sacrifices. Samuel went from year to year in circuit to Bethel, and Gilgal, and Mizpeh, and judged Israel in all those places. And his return was to Ramah. 1 Samuel 7:15-17 Mizpeh, the place where the great assemblies of all Israel were held, Judges 20:1; 2 Kings 25:23 was within the borders of Benjamin. Here the Lord wrought a mighty deliverance for His terrified people. The Lord thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them; and they were smitten before Israel. 1 Samuel 7:5-11

The prophetic words of Moses in his parting blessing on the tribes, indicate that there would be a decided change from the character portrayed by Jacob: Of Benjamin he said, The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by him; and the Lord shall cover him all the day long, and he shall dwell between His shoulders. Deuteronomy 33:12

The same fearless character that Jacob compared to a wolf, destroying everything before it, is changed by the converting power of the Spirit of God; and the strength once used to destroy, is now used to protect the people and interests of the Lord.The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by him.

It is interesting to notice the similarity between the character of the ancient tribe and that of the leading apostle to the Gentiles, who said of himself, I also am an Israelite . . . of the tribe of Benjamin. Romans 11:1

Saul, afterward called Paul, is first introduced to witnessing the stoning of Stephen and consenting unto his death. Acts 7:58; 8:1 Next we hear of him as a ravening wolf, in making havoc of the church entering into every house and haling men and women, and committing them to prison. Acts 8:3 Like a savage wolf, thirsty for the blood of his prey, he was breathing out threatenings and against the disciples of the Lord. Acts 9:1 There was no safety for any of the beloved of the Lord near such a character. But the same strength of character that will cause one to raven as a wolf and to hurt and destroy the people of God, will, when converted, shield and protect the honour of God and His cause.  From that time, that Saul, the Benjamite, had had one view of Jesus, Acts 9:3-9 his wolf-like nature departed, and the beloved of the Lord could dwell in safety by him. The saints at Damascus were in no danger: he who had designed to destroy them was now their friend. Acts 9:10-19 God never forgets to return an act of kindness. 1 Samuel 2:30 When Saul shielded and protected the beloved of the Lord, the Lord covered him all the day long; nothing could harm him. The sting of the poisonous serpent was powerless. Acts 28:1-6 There was not enough water in the sea to drown him. Acts 27:23-25 God covered him all the day long.

The blessing given by Moses says, The Lord shall cover him all the day long, and It shall dwell between His shoulders. Some commentators think that this refers to the temple being built on Mount Moriah, within the borders of Benjamin; but to the one who has childhood recollections of being carried between the strong shoulders of his father over the rough, uneven places in the road, the words have another meaning. The Lord shall cover him all the day long, protect from all harm and danger. And when we come to impossibilities in our pathway, things which our strength could never master, our heavenly Father lifts us in His mighty arms, and carries us safely over that which without his help it would be utterly impossible for us to accomplish. Like the child resting securely. between the shoulders of its father, with its arms clasped firmly around his neck, we accomplish that which is beyond all human power. Blessed place to be! but it is for the one by, whom the beloved of the Lord can dwell in safety. The voice of criticism and slander must be forever hushed by the one who hopes to fill that place. James 1:26

Ehud, under whom the land had rest fourscore years, was a Benjamite. Judges 3:15,30 He was left-handed, and it seems that by using his left hand, he was able more adroitly to slay Eglon, king of Moab, who was oppressing Israel. Judges 3:21-26 Saul, the first king of Israel, was of the tribe of Benjamin. 1 Samuel 9:21 God not only anointed Saul king over Israel, but He gave him another heart. 1 Samuel 10:9 He had associated with him men whose hearts God had touched; 1 Samuel 10:26 and as long as he remained humble, the Lord was with him. 1 Samuel 15:17-23 When he became exalted in his own mind, he was rejected of the Lord. Then the wolf-like propensities in his character were clearly seen; for he like a ravening wolf, for years chased David as a partridge in the mountains. 1 Samuel 26:19,20 His one desire was to slay the beloved of the Lord. I Samuel 18:11; 15:28 In direct contrast with Saul, who spent the strength of his manhood in plotting to destroy the man after God's own heart, is Mordecai, the son of Kish, a Benjamite. Their fathers bore the same name and they may have been related more closely than the tribal connection. The whole history of Mordecai is a series of deliverances of people from trouble. He saved the life of the Persian king. Esther 2:21-23 Afterward Satan and Haman planned to destroy every believer in the true God; Esther 3:8-15 and while Mordecai was earnestly seeking the Lord for deliverance, Esther 4:1-3 God used the kindness he had shown to the king as a means of escape. Esther 6:1-11 Mordecai was raised to an exalted position in the kingdom, and was used by the Lord to shield and protect His people. Esther 8:7-17 The true, lasting victory that extends throughout all eternity does not depend upon tribal connections or hereditary tendencies, but upon a humble trust in God. The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him. 2 Chronicles 16:9 God can humble kings when they disregard His word; 2 Chronicles 36:1-4, 9, 10 and He can take captives and give them kingly power. Daniel 6:1-3; Esther 8:15; 10:3 The natural character of Benjamin is the character of the un-converted heart in every age of the world. Jeremiah 17:9 Happy the one at the present day who, like Mordecai, will stand true to principle, Esther 3:2 and will risk all to protect the beloved of the Lord; he can claim the promise given to Benjamin of old: The Lord shall cover him all the day long and he shall dwell between His shoulders.Twelve thousand having this character, bearing the name of Benjamin, will serve the Lord day and night in His temple throughout eternity. Revelation 7:15

SUMMARY

Benjamin had ten sons from whom sprang the tribe of Benjamin. Gen. 46:21.
When they entered the promised land the tribe of Benjamin numbered 45,600.  The Benjamites were noted for archery, and for left handed, 1 Chron. 8:40; 2 Chron 17:17
Ramah, the home of Samuel, was within the borders of Benjamin. Mizpeh where Israel held great assemblies, was in the land of Benjamin. 

Noted Characters

Ehud, who judged eighty years. Judges 3:21-26.
Saul the first king of Israel 1 Sam 9:21.
Mordecai, whom the Lord used to save Israel in the days of Esther. Esther 2:5.
Paul, the leading apostle to the Gentiles. Rom 11:1.