DISCUSSION

Mount Ephraim and Benjamin

59. Lot of Benjamin


The territory of Benjamin, which extended from the hill country of Ephraim to the hill country of Judah, is described in great detail in Joshua 18:11-28. The description of its southern border fits that of the northern border of Judah (Josh. 15:5-11), while the picture of its northern border accords with that of the southern border of the House of Joseph (Josh. 16:1-3, 5). The northern boundary began at the Jordan and continued in an almost straight line westward to Jericho, which it bypassed to the north; it then ascended the mountains in a west-northwesterly direction, encompassing Beth-El, turning south and continuing to the southwest, and circumventing lower Beth-Horon on the south. The western border of Benjamin is unclear; however, from the description of the territory of Dan, it would seem that it did not reach the sea, but ended in the vicinity of the valley of Aijalon, with the area of lower Beth-Horon and Kiriath-Jearim marking its northern and southern extremities (cf. Josh. 18:28 with 15:60). The southern border ran "from the outskirts of Kiriath-Jearim" (Josh. 18:15), eastward via the "spring of the Waters of Nephtoah" (Lifta) to Jerusalem, which was included in the territory of Benjamin; for the border passed Jerusalem on the south and descended east by way of En-Rogel, En-Shemesh, "the Stone of Bohan son of Reuben," and Beth-Hoglah to the Dead Sea, near where the Jordan enters it. The eastern border was the Jordan.
The list of Benjamite towns (Josh. 18:21-28) does not accord with the northern border of the tribe as described in Joshua 18:12-13 since Beth-El, Zemaraim, Ophrah, and Mizpeh are elsewhere included in the territory of Ephraim (cf. Josh. 16; II Chron. 13:4, 19). Possibly the list of cities and the list of border points are not from the same period and reflect fluctuating territorial and historical situations. It is generally believed that the list of border points antedates the period of the monarchy, whereas the list of cities is of later date. A westward expansion of the Benjamites - possibly as early as the end of the period of Judges, but perhaps taking place during the monarchy - can be inferred from the list of Benjamite towns in Nehemiah 11:31-35. Non-Israelite enclaves existed within the territory of Benjamin; the Jebusites dwelt in Jerusalem (Josh. 18:28), and there were four cities of the Hivites in the western portion. Echoes of the conflicts between the Benjamites and the indigenous population are discernible in II Samuel 21:1-2 and possibly in I Chronicles 8:6-8.

Bustanay Oded, Encyclopaedia Judaica, ad v. "Benjamin" (extract)

Michael Avi-Yonah (The Madaba Mosaic Map, Jerusalem 1954, 50)
The name of the tribe has not been preserved, but: (a) the only other possibility, viz. Judah is shown elsewhere; (b) the blessing of Benjamin is written near the city; and (c) Jerusalem is assigned to Benjamin by Eusebius (On. 106,1). We need not hesitate therefore to complete as above. If we follow closely the description of the boundaries of Benjamin and Judah in Joshua XV,8-9, we shall find that the city itself was assigned to Benjamin, at least in theory. In practice of course it remained outside the tribal areas even after its conquest by David.

Map Section 5 Place Sources

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Created Tuesday, December 19, 2000 at 23:39:45
by Eugenio Alliata ofm in collaboration with Stefano de Luca ofm
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copyright - Studium Biblicum Franciscanum - Jerusalem 2000