I’ve often wondered where the tribe of Benjamin wound up – I mean, most of the tribes can be identified fairly easily – Reuben as France, Joseph as the US and the UK, etc. But where are the Benjamites today? There are a lot of prophecies to work with that discuss Benjamin’s blessing, so shouldn’t we be able to identify him using the Bible, and knowing the character of the nations today? He must be an independent nation, since all of the other tribes seem to have been divided by God into nations (with the possible exception of Levi, who never had his own land in Israel, but dwelt in isolated cities).
So what we must do is look for a nation on earth today which fits the promises made to Benjamin and the character shown by Benjamin and if we find a good match we’ll have answered our question. Let’s start by reading a bit of the history of Benjamin; we know that he was born to Jacob after Joseph was born, and that his mother died in childbirth immediately after naming him Benoni, which means “Son of my sorrow”, but Jacob renamed him Benjamin, which literally means “Son of the right hand” in Hebrew.
Ironically, the event which had the most impact on Benjamin’s life and character is one which happened to Joseph. Jacob doted on Joseph – he was the son of his favorite wife, who had been childless for many years, and when she finally had a child Jacob loved Joseph over all the other children. And of course, this fact wasn’t lost on his brothers, who hated him and ultimately killed him, telling their father that a Lion ate him – but you already know that story.
The point is that after this time, after Joseph was sold and presumed dead, Benjamin became the new favorite of his father. But even more than a favorite – he was a replacement for his dead son Joseph, and Jacob lived in fear that something might happen to him.
Genesis 42:1-4 Now when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt, Jacob said unto his sons, Why do ye look one upon another? And he said, Behold, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt: get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live, and not die. And Joseph’s ten brethren went down to buy corn in Egypt. But Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, Jacob sent not with his brethren; for he said, Lest peradventure mischief befall him.
You can imagine the way Benjamin was treated – you’ve known ultra-protective parents yourself, I’m sure. And I’m sure you remember the story of how Joseph pretended not to know his brothers, and demanded to see Benjamin, and kept Simeon in prison as “collateral” for their return, and how they returned home and found the money in their sacks on the way home. And when they told their father all the things that happened in Egypt…
Genesis 42:36-38 And Jacob their father said unto them, Me have ye bereaved of my children: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away: all these things are against me. And Reuben spake unto his father, saying, Slay my two sons, if I bring him not to thee: deliver him into my hand, and I will bring him to thee again. And he said, My son shall not go down with you; for his brother is dead, and he is left alone: if mischief befall him by the way in the which ye go, then shall ye bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.
Notice his concern for Benjamin – as if he were his only child “his brother is dead, and he is left alone”. And he flatly refused to allow him to go to Egypt with his brethren. I suspect that Jacob was always a little bit suspicious about what happened to Joseph – after all, he knew how his other children had felt about him, and he wasn’t stupid – but that’s mostly speculation. In any case, even though Reuben offered his own two sons as collateral, Jacob was hearing none of it. But it’s amazing how hunger can make you reconsider your position…
Genesis 43:1-5 And the famine was sore in the land. And it came to pass, when they had eaten up the corn which they had brought out of Egypt, their father said unto them, Go again, buy us a little food. And Judah spake unto him, saying, The man did solemnly protest unto us, saying, Ye shall not see my face, except your brother be with you. If thou wilt send our brother with us, we will go down and buy thee food: But if thou wilt not send him, we will not go down: for the man said unto us, Ye shall not see my face, except your brother be with you.
And so Jacob knew the family was in trouble, but even now he hesitates to let Benjamin out of his sight…
Genesis 43:8-10 And Judah said unto Israel his father, Send the lad with me, and we will arise and go; that we may live, and not die, both we, and thou, and also our little ones. I will be surety for him; of my hand shalt thou require him: if I bring him not unto thee, and set him before thee, then let me bear the blame for ever: For except we had lingered, surely now we had returned this second time.
And, knowing he was backed into a corner, Jacob finally consented – but not without first taking every possible precaution over Benjamin. Bear in mind that during all this time, at least several months, and possibly a year, Simeon had been rotting in an Egyptian prison – which you would think would have made Jacob more willing to take the risk, but such was his love for Benjamin.
Genesis 43:11-14 And their father Israel said unto them, If it must be so now, do this; take of the best fruits in the land in your vessels, and carry down the man a present, a little balm, and a little honey, spices, and myrrh, nuts, and almonds: And take double money in your hand; and the money that was brought again in the mouth of your sacks, carry it again in your hand; peradventure it was an oversight: Take also your brother, and arise, go again unto the man: And God Almighty give you mercy before the man, that he may send away your other brother, and Benjamin. If I be bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.
And so finally, Benjamin goes down to Egypt, and I’m sure you remember how Joseph was hard on them for awhile, and kept Benjamin back, and basically put his brothers through the mill until finally he broke down and confessed everything, brought his father and all his family down to Egypt and gave them the best part of Egypt, the land of Goshen, and they all lived happily ever after. Well, until Egypt made them into slaves, but that’s another story.
The point of this is what it can tell us about Benjamin’s attitude. Benjamin had been raised from a very young age as a beloved “only child”, whom his father doted on and who was ultra-sheltered. What sort of personality has this produced in children you’ve known who were raised similarly?
In my experience, children who are “the baby”, and whom their parents dote on in front of their siblings grow up somewhat spoiled and arrogant. On the other hand, ultra-sheltered children tend to grow up timid because they have been taught to be afraid of everything, so they are generally quiet and avoid confrontations as a rule. And these characteristics together create a very interesting individual – but more on that later. First, let’s look at the blessings Benjamin received.
Genesis 49:27 Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf: in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil.
A wolf is strong and takes what food he wants, and prey and spoil are also mentioned here – so this looks like a promise of material wealth and food. Which is what you would expect as a blessing for the second-favorite child of Jacob.
So far, we are looking for a wealthy, independent country, whose people have a tendency to act somewhat superior, but who are timid and rather undistinguished as a country. Anything come to mind? Not yet? Well, there’s more…
Deuteronomy 33:12 And 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.
I had suspected based on these other scriptures the identity of modern Benjamin, but this was the final proof. It says that the “beloved of the Lord” dwells in safety BY him. And the Lord covers him all the day long, and “he” shall dwell between “his” shoulders.
Translators seem confused as to whom “he” and “his” refer to – whether it means that Benjamin dwells between the shoulders of the the Lord, or that Benjamin dwells between the shoulders of the “beloved of the Lord”. Regardless, it is clear that the “beloved of the Lord” dwells by Benjamin. So, in the context of Genesis 49, who would the “beloved of the Lord” be?
Genesis 49:26 The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.
Joseph was, of the brothers, the one who received the visions, the one who received the greatest material blessings, the one who led his brothers safely into Egypt, and the favorite of his father. And Joseph inherited much of the blessings of wealth and possessions and lands that God promised to Abraham. Ergo, in the context of Genesis 49, the “Beloved of the Lord” should be Joseph. And if that is true, we have only one candidate for modern-day Benjamin.
Consider; a liberal people, somewhat superior in attitude, with a slightly stand-offish approach to world politics, who have managed to avoid getting officially involved in most major wars, with great material blessings who dwells next to Joseph (who became the United States) – dwelling, from a military, economic and technological standpoint in the shadow of the United States, between its shoulders… Who does this make you think of? If you need a hint think… COLD. Need more? Look NORTH.
Yes, I’m talking about Canada. The Bible doesn’t have much to say about Benjamin, beyond what we’ve read, except that Saul was a Benjamite (both Saul and Saul-who-became-Paul), and that Benjamin was once almost destroyed because of Homosexuality (Judges 19). But in light of all the evidence, Canada makes the most sense from a Biblical standpoint.
I concede that some of this is open to interpretation; but if we assume that God wanted us to be able to figure these things out (albiet perhaps with a little help), then I believe that this is the only possible conclusion that all of this evidence could lead a person to draw.
But, you may ask, why does this matter? Of what practical use is it, one way or the other? Well, why does it matter that the Earth revolves around the Sun, and not the other way around? It didn’t seem to, in the days of Copernicus and Galileo – but in the end, truth is always worth knowing, and one day it always winds up being useful.
And if this is true, it will too.