STILL looking at genealogy. We turn to the tribe of Benjamin today. Let’s see how the author chooses to display their roots.
We have several places in scripture where the descendants of Benjamin are listed. The number of sons he had varies between reports. Genesis 46:21 has the most exhaustive list and names ten sons for him. Today’s reading has the shortest list with only three mentioned. I don’t know the reason for this but I have a couple of ideas. 1) The ones mentioned today are the ones our author wants to focus on. 2) It could be that some or many of his sons were born to concubines and not counted in some rolls. 3) Maybe some of his children died before reaching adulthood and are therefore not mentioned. One possible explanation proposed by someone was that the sons not listed might have sinned somehow and been removed because of it. I’m not going to give that one any credence.
In Judges the tribe of Benjamin is nearly eradicated after the rape of the Levites concubine. Their numbers were so low that the other tribes feared their demise. As punishment for their crime the other tribes swore to withhold their daughters from them in marriage but the tribe of Benjamin was allowed to raid a gathering and take wives from among those assembled. They were not punished for this theft as it allowed their tribe to regrow.
We are given only one generation for the first two sons listed and two generations for the third. We KNOW they continued on beyond this point or they would not have produced the numbers assigned to their line. The number of “mighty warriors” listed for us is 59,434. A LARGE contingent of fighting men. I wonder what generation they were counted in. Maybe it was when David conducted his census that made God so angry. We know from the stories of David that they were highly skilled with the bow and could shoot with either hand.
True to form, we run into names not covered in the direct list. I tried searching the names using Google. I found Huppim as one of the names in the list of Benjamin’s sons in Genesis but we know names can be reused. The parentage would not match up if it weren’t. Ir, Hushim and Aher are nowhere to be found in the lists. We have a close spelling of Ard in the list from Genesis. Ir could be Iri who is listed in our text today which makes Shuppim and Huppim in the line of Bela but only God knows if “Ir” and “Iri” are the same person. These men are not mentioned anywhere else in scripture, other than establishing that they had tribes named after them.
I honestly don’t know what to take from today’s reading. We already talked about warriors when looking at Issachar’s descendants. I don’t want to get back into “warrior mode” again.
Something that did just pop into my spirit is the differences in the lists of “family” for Benjamin. “Family” can be an all inclusive or an exclusive word. My grandmother on my dad’s side, when counting family members didn’t count the spouses of her children. She stuck with blood lines only. No adopted children or step children in her count. My husband, when talking to anyone calls his step brothers and sisters simply brothers and sisters. To him there are no differences between his two full brothers and those who are related to him by marriage or by one parent in common. My mom counts and recounts when her children marry and divorce. She keeps count of the ones who are related by blood, even if the marriage dissolved but she adds or drops those who join and leave the rolls through marriage or divorce. She recently “lost” 10 members because of divorce. She doesn’t include “domestic partners” in her count though, no matter the length of relationship, especially those in relationships she doesn’t approve of. I don’t know how to count. I consider the family of my ex-husband still as family but I don’t have any connection with them. I have to admit to having mixed feelings regarding my husband’s ex-wives and their children. I work HARD at blending our family of his biological children and mine but I don’t have any relationship with the children he still clings to who are his former spouses’ children alone. I find myself bristling at the stories he tells or when he wants to contact them. He is the one who makes all the effort; they make none of it. I feel guilty about my attitude.
An even BIGGER family is the Family of God. EVERYONE is welcome to join. All it takes is asking to be “adopted” by the Father through His Son. God doesn’t subtract anybody once they “sign on”, even when we deserve it. Jesus’ blood seals us in His family for eternity! We have a LOT of hands to shake, hugs to give and stories to share when we are finally all together. I’m REALLY looking forward to that “Family Reunion”!