Some of the more interesting elements of the birth of the son, Benjamin, to Rachel and Jacob relate to the meaning of his name. Benjamin was the only son of the twelve to be born in the land of Israel and this is important. The sages understood, and Scripture indicates, that the final redemption of the nation of Israel would take place in the land after their long exile.
It was at Ephrath, outside of Bethlehem, that Rachel went into a very hard labor, which resulted in her death. The difficulty of her labor is repeated twice which speaks of the intensity of the pain. The description of her labor is seen as hard, cruel and grievous. This comes from the root for the word qashah, which indicates that the stalks gathered at harvest were pressed together in tight bundles. This is how her labor is described. In Hebrew thinking, labor pains were associated with the coming of the Messiah and the redemption of Israel. However, the sages did not recognize that the Messiah and the redemption would come in two separate stages.
Now Rachel called her second born son “Ben Oni” which means son of affliction, sorrow or mourning. That is because, of course, his birth caused her great pain and ultimately her death. This points to the great affliction Yeshua suffered in his death on the tree to bring atonement to mankind.
However, Benjamin’s name was changed, by Jacob, to Benjaminן, which means “Son of my Right Hand”. There are a
number of references in Scripture to the work of the right hand of God. For instance Psalm 21:9, which is referring to King David, says “your right hand will overtake those who hate you. In the Song of the Sea from Exodus 15:6, it says “your right hand, Adonai is powerful; your right hand shatters the foe. This song is expresses the joy of the redemption of the nation with God’s defeat of their enemy. Finally, in the story of Deborah, Yael takes a hammer in her right hand and crushes the skull of Sisera the enemy of Israel.
In addition, there is another meaning for the name of Benjamin. The name Ben Yamim can mean “Son of Days. The term for days in Hebrew is yamim/ימים and can also be the plural for the word sea. In Daniel 12:13 the word for days is spelled yamin/ימין and refers here to the period understood to be the “end of days”.
There is only one who could fulfill all three meanings of the name of Benjamin and that is Yeshua the Messiah. In his first coming He came as the Son of affliction and in his second coming, at the end of days, He will come as the Son of the right hand. He will come in power and strength to completely defeat the enemy of the children of God forever.
Some the sages declared “that when the Messiah came, only one place on earth would prove suitable for his coronation… that lonely place on the road to Ephrath (on the outskirts of Bethlehem) where Rachel lies in the dust”. It is interesting that it was in this same place that Yeshua the Messiah was born in lowly circumstances but would ultimately be declared King forever in the footsteps of King David.