Benjamin between Judah and Israel: Kinship vs. Geopolitics

Authors: Yigal Levin*, Bar-Ilan University
Topics: Bible Geography, Historical Geography, Military Geography
Keywords: Biblical Geography, Benjamin, Israel, Judah
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 56
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Within biblical tradition, Benjamin was the youngest son of Jacob and the second born to his beloved wife Rachel. In the traditions of the desert wanderings, the tribe of Benjamin was always appended to the descendants of Benjamin’s “older brother” Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh. According to Josh. 18, the tribe was allotted a territory that bordered on Ephraim to the north, and on that of Judah, the largest of the “Leah tribes”, to the south. During the pre- and early monarchy, Benjamin was always identified as a “northern” tribe, that of Saul, the first king of Israel, and was even the home of two known rebels against David. However, when the northern tribes rebelled and broke away from the Davidic kingdom, Benjamin remained loyal to the house of David, and became one of the main components of the Kingdom of Judah. This paper examines the geographical and strategic background to this behavior and attempts to uncover the historical reality behind the biblical tradition.

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