Word of Encouragement (06/02/2022)
“Benjamin is a ravenous wolf, in the morning devouring the prey and at evening dividing the spoil” (Gen. 49:27).
This is Jacob’s prayer for his youngest son, who was borne by Rachel, his beloved wife. As you may remember, Rachel died giving birth to him. In her dying breath, she named him “Ben-oni” (“son of my sorrow”). But Jacob named him “Benjamin” (“son of the right hand”) (Gen. 35:18). Matthew Henry provides a plausible explanation for this: “But Jacob, because he would not renew the sorrowful remembrance of the mother’s death every time he called his son by his name, changed his name, and called him Benjamin, The son of my right hand; that is, ‘very dear to me, set on my right hand for a blessing, the support of my age, like the staff in my right hand.’”
Benjamin is described as “a ravenous wolf”. This imagery seems to represent his military strength as Jacob speaks of Benjamin not only devouring the prey but also dividing “the spoil”. Indeed, Benjamin grew to be a powerful military tribe. We saw this in the Book of Judges when the tribe of Benjamin took on the rest of Israel in a civil war. Their cause was, unfortunately, less than honorable: they refused to give up the worthless fellows in Gibeah, who tried to sodomize a Levite and raped his wife to death, simply because they belonged to their tribe. Their tribal loyalty trumped the cause of justice and obedience to God’s law. Even so, 26,000 of them took on the 400,000 of the other tribes and managed to defeat them twice before they were finally defeated in the third battle (Judg. 20).
As John Gill suggests, this prophecy may also point to Saul, the first king of Israel from the tribe of Benjamin, who led numerous successful military campaigns against surrounding nations (even though, unfortunately, he relentlessly sought to kill David in his later years). John Gill speaks of others, who applied this prophecy to another Saul from the tribe of Benjamin, who persecuted the early Christians ruthlessly before he was converted on the road to Damascus. But after his conversion, he served Christ and fought against Satan and his minions with the same intensity and focus.
Of course, who is the true Benjamin but Jesus Christ—the Son of God, who is seated at the right hand of God after accomplishing our salvation? But a ravenous Wolf? That seems so unfitting when we know Him to be the Lamb of God. However, Christ is much more than just the Lamb of God, isn’t He? In the Book of Revelation, He is presented both as the Lamb of God (5:6) and the Lion of Judah (5:5). If so, can we not see Him also as the ravenous Wolf, who is mighty and victorious over Satan, taking from him His redeemed people as His spoils?
Jesus our Lord is gentle as the Lamb of God with us, His people. But to His enemies, He is like a powerful Lion, a ravenous Wolf. We are safe because He is gentle and patient with us but ravenous and ferocious against our enemies. May the Lord conform us to Himself more and more—gentle and patient with our fellow members and our neighbors but ravenous and ferocious against sin and Satan!