DISCUSSION

Mount Ephraim and Benjamin

55. Benjamin, the Lord covers him and here sted amongh is frontiers


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)

Herbert Donner (The Mosaic Map of Madaba, Kampen 1992, 50)
Benjamin, God shields him and dwells in between his mountains. The text of this benediction, written in white letters on black background, is quoted from Deut. 33:12 according to the Greek Septuagint version. The Septuagint, however, reads 'in between his shoulders', not taking into consideration that the Hebrew expression 'his shoulders' metaphorically means 'his mountain slopes'. The mosaicist interpreted the text geographically correctly, emending the Septuagint.

Map Section 5 Place Sources

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Created Tuesday, December 19, 2000 at 23:39:41
by Eugenio Alliata ofm in collaboration with Stefano de Luca ofm
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copyright - Studium Biblicum Franciscanum - Jerusalem 2000