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Genesis 35:18

18 As her soul was departing (for she died), she named him Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin.

Genesis 35:18 Meaning and Commentary

Genesis 35:18

And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, for she
In childbirth; she had most passionately desired children, without which she could not live with ease and peace of mind, and now she dies by having one; see ( Genesis 30:1 ) ; and by this account of her death it appears, that death is the separation and disunion of soul and body; that at death the soul departs from the body; that the soul does not die with it, but goes elsewhere, and lives in a separate state, and never dies; it goes into another world, a world of spirits, even unto God that gave it, ( Ecclesiastes 12:7 ) : that she called his name Benoni;
which signifies "the son of my sorrow", having borne and brought him forth in sorrow, and now about to leave him as soon as born, which might increase her sorrow; or "the son, of my mourning"; as Aben Ezra and Ben Gersom interpret it; or "the son of my strength", all her strength being exhausted in bringing him forth: but his father called him Benjamin;
that is, "the son of the right hand", being as dear to him, and as beloved by him as his right hand; or who would be as the right hand to him, his staff and support in his old age; or else as being the son of her who was as his right hand, dear and assisting to him. Some render it, "the son of days", or years, that is, the son of his old age, as he is called, ( Genesis 44:20 ) ; Jarchi and Ben Gerson interpret it, "the son of the south"; the right hand being put for the south; and they think this son was so called, because he only was born in the land of Canaan, which lay, they say, to the south with respect to Mesopotamia, where the rest were born; but be the etymology of the word as it will, the change of the name seems to be made by Jacob, because that which Rachel gave her son would have perpetually put Jacob in mind of the sorrow of his beloved Rachel, and therefore gave him a name more pleasant and agreeable. The Jews say F3 he was born the eleventh of October, and lived one hundred and eleven years.


F3 Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 4. 1.

Genesis 35:18 In-Context

16 Then they journeyed from Bethel; and when they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel was in childbirth, and she had hard labor.
17 When she was in her hard labor, the midwife said to her, "Do not be afraid; for now you will have another son."
18 As her soul was departing (for she died), she named him Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin.
19 So Rachel died, and she was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem),
20 and Jacob set up a pillar at her grave; it is the pillar of Rachel's tomb, which is there to this day.

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. That is [Son of my sorrow]
  • [b]. That is [Son of the right hand] or [Son of the South]
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.