Son of My Right Hand
What’s in a name? In most western cultures, parents name their children after many different reasons. Perhaps to honor a loved one, or someone famous, or simply to give their child their own unique identity. In the times of the Old Testament, Hebrew names carried more than just a phonetic grouping of letters that gave a pleasant sound, it carried a meaning. For example, Genesis chapter five gives the ten generations from Adam to Noah. In Chuck Missler’s book “Cosmic Codes,” he translated the names in chronological order into English. “Adam ‐ Seth ‐ Enosh ‐ Cainan ‐ Mahalalel ‐ Jared ‐ Enoch ‐ Methuselah ‐ Lamech ‐ Noah” was translated as “Man - (is) Appointed - Mortal - Sorrow; (but) The Blessed God - Shall come down - Teaching - His death shall bring - The Despairing - Comfort or Rest.”
In Hebrew, Jacob’s name means “heel catcher” or “supplanter.” The book of Genesis records his nefarious deeds which ultimately led him into trouble. Jacob had twelve sons by four different women. The names of each of the first eleven sons were given at birth by their mother to communicate her mindset at that moment. The twelfth son is the only one named by his father. We pick up the story in Genesis chapter 35.
“Now it came to pass, when she was in hard labor, that the midwife said to her, ‘Do not fear; you will have this son also.’ And so it was, as her soul was departing (for she died), that she called his name Ben-Oni; but his father called him Benjamin.”
As Rachel was dying, she called her son Ben-Oni which means “Son of my sorrow.” We are then told that Jacob intervened and renamed him Benjamin, which is a concatenation of two Hebrew words, Ben which means “Son”. Yamin which means “Right Hand.” Therefore, Jacob was calling him “Son of my Right Hand.”
In Biblical typology, the “Right Hand” is symbolic of power and authority. In the song of Moses where he is rejoicing in the salvation from God he declares, “Your right hand, O LORD, has become glorious in power; Your right hand, O LORD, has dashed the enemy in pieces.” The most quoted Psalm in the New Testament is Psalm 110:1 “A Psalm of David. The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” As Jesus stood before the Sanhedrin He prophesied “the Son of Man will sit on the right hand of the power of God.”
If we look deeper into the etymology of the name given to Jacob’s last son, we discover that perhaps Jacob is sending a message to the older brothers that Benjamin will finally fulfill his father’s desire to have a son that will be a leader. If you look at the history of his eleven brothers that does not seem to be too much of a stretch of the imagination.
The Tribe of Benjamin stood as a buffer between Judea and the other ten tribes of Israel. They were notable warriors. As history would have it, the first king of Israel came from the tribe of Benjamin. The apostle Paul was also from the tribe of Benjamin.