(ben' juh muhn) HEBREW: BINYAMIN
"son of the right hand"

As Rachel was dying in childbirth, she named her second son Ben-oni, which means "son of my sorrow"; but his father, Jacob, gave him a more propitious name: Benjamin, meaning "son of the right hand." As the youngest son and the son of Jacob's beloved wife, Benjamin was the favorite of his father, particularly after Rachel's other son, Joseph, was sold into slavery.

Long after Joseph had risen from slavery to become a power in Egypt, the famine that he had predicted struck Canaan as it had Egypt. Jacob sent his sons to Egypt to buy grain, which was plentiful there thanks to Joseph's foresight. Since Joseph was in charge of Egypt's food supply, his brothers had to plead with him for grain, although they failed to recognize him. After selling them food, Joseph accused his brothers of being spies. Holding Simeon as a hostage, he insisted they return with Benjamin.

Jacob was afraid to let Benjamin go, but Judah swore to assume responsibility for Benjamin's safety. When Benjamin finally got to Egypt, Joseph first tricked his brothers by planting a silver cup among the youngest son's belongings; then, after a dramatic confrontation, he revealed his true identity.

The tribe of Benjamin later inhabited the strategic territory between Judah and the other northern tribes.

{E2 Dictionary of Biblical People}