Benjamin shall shred as a wolf: in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Benjamin.—With this description of their ancestor agrees the character of his race, which was the most spirited and warlike of all the tribes of Israel.
It would be interesting to compare the notices of the several tribes in the subsequent history with Jacob’s blessing of their progenitors, and with that also given by Moses. The fathers, moreover, found in the words of the patriarch faint foreshadowings of the spiritual truths of Christianity. But such discussions exceed the limits of a commentary, and it has seemed best to give only the primary explanation of Jacob’s words, in accordance, as far as possible, with the standpoint of the patriarch himself.Genesis 49:27. Benjamin shall raven as a wolf — It is plain Jacob was guided in what he said by a spirit of prophecy, and not by natural affection, else he would have spoken with more tenderness of his beloved son Benjamin, concerning whom he only foretels that his posterity should be a warlike tribe, strong and daring; and that they should enrich themselves with the spoil of their enemies; that they should be active in the world, and a tribe as much feared by their neighbours as any other: in the morning he shall devour the prey — Which he seized and divided over night.Judges 20-21, and among his descendants are Ehud, Saul, and Jonathan.
27. shall ravin like a wolf—This tribe in its early history spent its energies in petty or inglorious warfare and especially in the violent and unjust contest (Jud 19:1-20:48), in which it engaged with the other tribes, when, notwithstanding two victories, it was almost exterminated.Judges 3:15 19:1-20:48 1 Samuel 13:1-15:35. This may be understood, either of the same wolf, which in the morning, being more hungry and greedy, devours his prey alone; but in the evening, being in some measure satisfied, is content that his brethren should share with him. Or rather of several sorts of wolves, whereof some hunt and devour alone, others hunt in couples or troops, and those divide the prey among themselves. He mentions both
evening, because these are the two seasons when the wolves prey, and to note that this would be Benjamin’s carriage both in the first and last times of that tribe, as indeed it was. Judges 20:15, and if this tribe is compared to a wolf for rapaciousness, this may be illustrated by the remainder of those, after the loss of a third battle, catching and carrying away the daughters of Shiloh, and making them their wives, Judges 21:23. Some apply this to particular persons of this tribe, as to Saul the first king of Israel, who was of Benjamin; and who as soon as he took the kingdom of Israel, in the morning, in the beginning of that state, fought against all his enemies on every side, against Moab, Ammon, Edom, the kings of Zobah, and the Philistines, and the Amalekites, 1 Samuel 14:47 and to Mordecai and Esther, who were of the same tribe, who after the captivity, and in the evening of that state, divided the spoil of Haman, Esther 8:1 this is observed by Jarchi, Aben Ezra, and Ben Gersom. Some of the Christian fathers have applied the prophecy to the Apostle Paul, who was of the tribe of Benjamin; who in the morning of his youth was a fierce and ravenous persecutor, and made havoc of the church of God: and in the evening, or latter part of his life, spent his days in dividing the spoil of Satan among the Gentiles, taking the prey out of his hands, turning men from the power of Satan unto God, and distributed food to the souls of men. In a spiritual sense he was a warlike man, a good soldier of Christ, and accoutred as such, had a warfare to accomplish, and enemies to fight with; and did fight the good fight of faith, conquered, and was more than a conqueror through Christ, and is now crowned: and why may it not be applied to Christ himself, seeing the blessing of Benjamin by Moses, Deuteronomy 33:12 seems to belong to him? he is God's Benjamin, the son and man of his right hand, as dear to him as his right hand, in whom his power has been displayed, and who is exalted at his right hand; and may as well be compared to a wolf as to a lion, as he is the lion of the tribe of Judah, and as God himself is compared to a lion and bear, Hosea 13:7 and who is expressly said to divide the spoil with the strong, Isaiah 53:12 spoiled principalities and powers, delivered his people as a prey out of the hands of the mighty, and will make an utter destruction of all his and their enemies. Some of these things were done in the morning of the Gospel dispensation, and others will be done in the evening of it, Colossians 2:15. Benjamin shall raven as a wolf: in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)27. Benjamin] The fierce and warlike qualities of Benjamin, here described under the simile of a wolf, appear in Jdg 5:14; Jdg 5:19; Jdg 20:21-25.
a wolf that ravineth] i.e. a wolf that seizes and rends his prey. Cf. Ezekiel 22:27. Elsewhere in the O.T. the simile of a wolf is used only in a bad sense.
To “ravin” is Old English for “to prey with rapacity”: cf. Shakespeare, Cymb., i. 6, “The cloy’d will, … ravening first The lamb.”
at even] Compare the expression “evening wolves,” i.e. those which “at even” are most terrible and savage; Jeremiah 5:6; Habakkuk 1:8; Zephaniah 3:3. It is noteworthy that there is no certain reference to the reign of Saul as conferring distinction upon the tribe. But “shall divide the spoil” recalls the description of the Benjamite monarch, who “clothed the daughters of Israel in scarlet, and put ornaments of gold on their apparel” (2 Samuel 1:24).Verse 27. - Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf (literally, a wolf, he shall tear in pieces): in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil. The prediction alludes to the warlike character of the tribe of Benjamin, which was manifested in Ehud the judge (Judges 3:15), and Saul the king of Israel (1 Samuel 11:6-11; 1 Samuel 14:13, 15, 47, 48), who both sprang from Rachel's younger son. 2 Samuel 2:18; 1 Chronicles 12:8, cf. Psalm 18:33; Habakkuk 3:19). שׁלהה here is neither hunted, nor stretched out or grown slim; but let loose, running freely about (Job 39:5). The meaning and allusion are obscure, since nothing further is known of the history of the tribe of Naphtali, than that Naphtali obtained a great victory under Barak in association with Zebulun over the Canaanitish king Jabin, which the prophetess Deborah commemorated in her celebrated song (Judges 4 and 5). If the first half of the verse be understood as referring to the independent possession of a tract of land, upon which Naphtali moved like a hind in perfect freedom, the interpretation of Masius (on Joshua 19) is certainly the correct one: "Sicut cervus emissus et liber in herbosa et fertili terra exultim ludit, ita et in sua fertili sorte ludet et excultabit Nephtali." But the second half of the verse can hardly refer to "beautiful sayings and songs, in which the beauty and fertility of their home were displayed." It is far better to keep, as Vatablius does, to the general thought: tribus Naphtali erit fortissima, elegantissima et agillima et erit facundissima.
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