Benjamin: Truly a "Son of the Min"?
With significant frequency, the Book of Genesis goes to great lengths to record not only the birth of offspring to the great Patriarchs therein, but also often takes great care to mention their moment of conception, either directly or indirectly, and/or otherwise gives sufficient information that leaves no doubt as to the identity of the child's paternity:
Genesis 4:17 Genesis 4:25
And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived...
And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived...
And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son...
For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.
And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac.
And she gave him Bilhah her handmaid to wife: and Jacob went in unto her.
And Bilhah conceived...
And Bilhah Rachel's maid conceived again, and bare Jacob a second son.
When Leah saw that she had left bearing, she took Zilpah her maid, and gave her Jacob to wife.
And Zilpah Leah's maid bare Jacob a son.
And Zilpah Leah's maid bare Jacob a second son.
And Jacob came out of the field in the evening, and Leah went out to meet him, and said, Thou must come in unto me; for surely I have hired thee with my son's mandrakes. And he lay with her that night.
And God hearkened unto Leah, and she conceived...
And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb.
And she conceived and bare a son...
And she called his name Joseph...
Understandably, it was very important that the official record clearly identify who sired whom within the near-hallowed bloodline of what would later be considered the Great Patriarchs of the Tribes of Israel so as to preserve an accurate genealogical record of such an illustrious lineage. The rights to both spiritual and material inheritance depended upon the preservation and accurate interpretation of their genealogical records.
However with respect only to Rachel's second and last son, Benjamin, no mention at all is made regarding Benjamin's conception nor even of Rachel's and/or Jacob's attempts to have her conceive at all during this time (which, given the rarity of Rachel's pregnancies, would be even more expected to inspire scriptural comment... just as it had with Sarai's conception and birth of Isaac).
What the scriptural account does record during both the approximate time of Rachel's conception and then again at Benjamin's birth, and promptly ending thereafter, is a sudden flurry of corporeal appearances by angels... and one such in particular.
At the first meeting, Jacob is met by a plurality of "angels:"
Genesis 32:1 And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him.
Thereafter, all later appearances are by one particular angel that Jacob mistakes for being the one true "God" (El).
(While there is an earlier account of angels in Genesis 28:11-16 -- known as the "Jacob's Ladder" occurrence -- this is not an actual appearance at all but very clearly described in the verses cited as "a dream" occurring entirely while Jacob slept.)
No further mention or description of this encounter or purpose of this meeting is given. But obviously, once again "angels" from "Heaven" have chosen to descend and interact with Humankind, just as they had in Genesis 6 and the many previous accounts of meetings with Abraham (Jacob's grandfather) and Lot.
From here the story gets quite a bit stranger as apparently one angel in particular begins a number of personal appearances to Jacob beginning, apparently, with some sort of physical confrontation, the motivation for which is never given nor even hinted at:
And he (Jacob) rose up that night, and took his two wives, and his two womenservants, and his eleven sons, and passed over the ford Jabbok.
And he took them, and sent them over the brook, and sent over that he had.
And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until
the breaking of the day.
And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him.
And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.
And he said unto him, What [is] thy name? And he said, Jacob.
And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as
a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.
And Jacob asked [him], and said, Tell [me], I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore [is] it [that] thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there.
And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.
On this night only do we find that Jacob has inexplicably and voluntarily chosen to camp and sleep separate from his two wives... most noteably, Rachel. On this night only does Jacob tell his wives and family to camp on the other side of the river while he remains and camps on the opposite bank.
And then, at some point during the night only, he is met by, converses with, and ultimately wrestles one particular "angel" he has assumed to be "God."
Is it coincidence only that the angel should happen to appear on this night when Jacob suddenly chose to sleep alone and apart from all the rest? Or is it more likely that Jacob had been previously instructed by this angel to camp alone and meet him there? And if so, why instruct Jacob to spend the entire night separated from his family... and from Rachel, in particular? Why deliberately keep Jacob apart and away from his beloved Rachel for the entire night?
What we do know is that sometime during that night in which both Jacob and Rachel were separated, "a man" of some super-human characteristics appeared and at some point during their meeting, provoked a heated physical confrontation with Jacob. According to the biblical account, the result of this was that Jacob received a new name: "Israel" (Yisra'el: "he who wrestles with God"). But why the meeting in the first place? Why the ensuing physical confrontation? For what purpose was either? The Bible is strangely silent on all these questions. This silence is made even more unusual given that it is from this singular event, this meeting between man and "God," that the name and nation of "Israel" is founded. And yet, to this day we do not even know why the event took place.
One interesting caveat... for whatever reason, this "God" seemed to fear the daylight and begged Jacob to let him go "...for the day breaketh." While most likely this was due to the fact that, for whatever reason, this strange being did not wish others to see him and perhaps come to Jacob's assistance, yet still the question is raised... What "God" fears daylight or discovery by lesser beings? For that matter, what "God" would need to beg a mortal man to release him? What "God" would then have to resort to the physical application of an advanced knowledge of Human anatomy (the manual dislocation of Jacob's knee) to finally escape Jacob's grasp?
Following that fateful night, several months passed as Jacob travels to the town of Succoth in northern Canaan, not far from the place of wrestling, and built a house and pens for his animals. Then at some point thereafter, he travels to Shalem (possibly the city of Jerusalem) and buys land and pitches his tent. There his daughter Dinah is taken by one of the sons of Shechem, the ruler of Shalem at the time, and "defiled" by him. However, this son loves Dinah and wishes to marry her. Jacob's eldest sons conspire to kill all the men in Shechem's family and "spoil" the city, which they do. Following this "God" commands Jacob to high-tail it out of there and "go up to Bethel."
And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother.
Reading this verse carefully, it becomes clearly evident that this one "God" who commands Jacob to "...go up to Bethel" must be the same "...God that appeared unto thee (Jacob)" earlier. And now this same "God" wants Jacob to go immediately to Bethel where he first "appeared" to Jacob. By this time, as later evidenced, Rachel was very close to delivering her second son, yet still... no mention is made of Rachel's state of pregnancy. Despite the import the news of such a long-awaited second pregnancy should have evoked in those recounting the story, not a word at all mentions Rachel's obvious pregnancy by this point.
Jacob then packs up his families and all that they own, and travels the 36 mile distance from Shechem to Bethel, an easy two-day journey (@ a leisurely 3 mph X 6 hours per day X 2 days).
Genesis 35: 10
And he built there an altar, and called the place Elbethel: because there God appeared unto him, when he fled from the face of his brother.
And God appeared unto Jacob again, when he came out of Padanaram, and blessed him.
And God said unto him, Thy name [is] Jacob: thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name: and he called his name Israel.
And God went up from him in the place where he talked with him.
Okay... finally an indication why this same "man", who calls himself "God", was so considered by Jacob. Here verse 13 tells us that this personage "went up from him" after he had "appeared" to him as he had before. This leaves little doubt but that this personage did not arrive or leave as would other Humans, but instead was capable of literally ascending up into the air as he had apparently descended when first appearing to Jacob.
And finally, three short verses later, as Jacob is traveling from Bethel (meaning "House of God") to Ephrath (later called Bethlehem), a distance of about 17 miles, Rachel gives birth to Benjamin and dies in the process.
And they journeyed from Bethel; and there was but a little way to come to Ephrath: and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labour.
And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin.
And so Benjamin is born.
But... was Jacob (Israel) the father of Benjamin?
It is of course assumed that he was, just as later it was assumed that Joseph was the father of Jesus. However, unlike with all the other references given, and unlike the very particular wording given to verify beyond any doubt Abraham's siring of Isaac to the near-equally barren Sarai (Genesis 21:3 And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac.), yet here in Benjamin's case, no name of the father is given nor is mention made at all whether it is Jacob who gives Benjamin his name. Instead the account only reads that at some point following the boy's birth "...his father called him Benjamin."
Thus the questions that seem deliberately asked yet left unanswered:
1. Who was this one "angel," though described as "a man," who first appeared to Jacobs shortly before Rachel's conception, whose purpose is never mentioned, and who -- just as inexplicably -- stopped his visits with Jacob just as soon as Rachel gives birth to Benjamin?
2. Who was this "man" who either identified himself as "God" or allowed Jacob to believe he was "God," and then with whom Jacob wrestled that lonely evening when, for whatever reason, he was sent to sleep deliberately separated and at some distance from his wives, most notably Rachel and at a time possibly coinciding with the date of her unmentioned and ignored conception?
3. And what prompted the physical confrontation between them? Did this "angel" reveal something to Jacob that upset him? Or might this confrontation have been sparked by second thoughts Jacob was having over already-given commands? Commands perhaps relating to his wife, Rachel, and an as-yet unconceived or perhaps only just conceived son?
4. Having completed God's command that they travel to Bethel and build an altar, why couldn't Jacob have waited until after Benjamin's birth before choosing to continue their travels with the very-pregnant Rachel? Is there any doubt that had Jacob waited at Bethel until after Rachel's delivery her survival might have been much better assured ?
5. And perhaps the most intriguing question of all: What great significance did these "angels," and thereafter one "angel" in particular, place on Rachel's conception, pregnancy and the birth of Benjamin such that beginning immediately prior to her conception and continuing on until Benjamin's birth, this one "angel" should repeatedly visit Jacob?
What the Bible does reveal is that following Benjamin's birth all Old Testament angelic visitations cease!
From shortly before Rachel's conception until shortly after Benjamin's birth, this one "angel" visits Jacob with surprising regularity. Yet thereafter... nothing. Angels do not appear again among Mankind until, coincidentally, another "miraculous" conception between a "supernatural" father and a Human mother occurs several hundreds of years later, followed by the most angelically heralded birth in all of religious history to mother, herself most likely a direct descendent of Benjamin. And this birth takes place almost exactly in the same place as Benjamin's birth: near or in the town of Bethlehem.
Given these intriguing coincidences, is it perhaps possible that the "angel" who "wrestled" with Jacob on the one night when Jacob and Rachel slept separately and very near to the time Rachel might have conceived, and who then later appeared to Jacob at Bethel (where for some unknown reason Jacob had decided to take Rachel despite her advanced pregnancy)... might be the true father of Benjamin?
Perhaps on the occasion of the first appearance of angels to Jacob (Genesis 32:1), Jacob was instructed by them to sleep separately from his beloved Rachel and the rest of his family. Then, on that one night that Rachel would have been alone so as to be impregnated by one of these angels, Jacob was approached either before or after the fact as he slept alone on the other side of the river and told of what had or was to transpire re: Rachel. It was this, then, that prompted the physical confrontation between them, with Jacob finally realizing there was nothing he could do and relenting only if he might at least be granted some angelic concession or "blessing." Perhaps, in exchange for this ultimate liberty with his second wife, the angel blessed Jacob for permitting this perpetuation of the Rephaim bloodline by granting him a new title (name) as one who wrestles/prevails against God.
If so, then "Benjamin" ("Son of [the] Min") was quite correctly named by his real father. If so, then Rachel's progeny would have carried the bloodline of the Bene ha Elohim (Anunnaki), including King Menes who, millennia before Benjamin's birth, became "Min" and whose name and hypersexual iconography would have been especially well-known in Egypt where only a few years later Benjamin would travel and spend the rest of his life.
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