“Of Benjamin he said, ‘May the beloved of the LORD dwell in security by Him Who shields him all the day and he dwells between His shoulders.’” Deuteronomy 33:12 [NASB]
This verse appears simple enough yet we must understand human nature, birth order, and sibling rivalry while we read it. Benjamin was the twelfth son of Jacob by Rachel. Rachel bore just two sons for Jacob, Joseph and Benjamin. They were sons eleven and twelve. Jacob had ten other sons by his first wife, Leah, and his concubines. A first son inherited all the father’s possessions. That was his birthright. Reuben’s birthright would seem like a given and everyone had to fend for himself, but more was involved in this family.
Jacob met Rachel when he went to a well one day to get water. He fell in love with her and came to an agreement with her father, Laban, to work seven years for him in exchange for Rachel’s hand in marriage. Laban agreed and Jacob worked seven years. The wedding occurred and Jacob removed the veil from his wife’s face and found he married Leah, Rachel’s sister. Jacob confronted Laban about this deception. Laban told him the oldest daughter had to be married before the younger so he had to marry off Leah first. Jacob made a pact to work seven more years to gain Rachel as his wife. He worked, married, and had two wives who were sisters. Not only is it difficult to have two wives living in the same house, but it was against God’s law. A dynamic arose because of this situation. On top of this, Jacob had two concubines. Imagine having four women who bore his sons, two of which were servants. The dynamics in this family were difficult. Leah was the first to bear him sons.. She bore Jacob’s first four sons – Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah. Bilhah, Rachel’s servant bore him his fifth and sixth sons – Dan and Naphtali. Zilpah, Leah’s servant, bore him his seventh and eighth sons – Gad and Asher. Leah bore Jacob’s ninth and tenth sons - Issachar and Zebulun. Rachel bore his eleventh and twelfth sons – Joseph and Benjamin. Leah and the servants teased Rachel because she could not bear any children. She cried over this many times and Jacob’s heart broke because of it. When she conceived and bore Joseph, Jacob adored him. Joseph became the favorite son of Jacob. He had a coat of many colors made for him, which made his older brothers jealous. When Rachel bore her second son and last child, Benjamin, (she died after childbirth) for him, Joseph was heartbroken. He loved Benjamin with great intensity because he was the last child from his most beloved wife, Rachel. Jacob doted on Benjamin and perhaps spoiled him. Because Jacob loved Rachel and his sons by her so much more than his other sons, the ten older sons became jealous of Joseph and Benjamin. They sold Joseph into slavery and told Jacob a wild animal killed him. They teased Benjamin.
Being the last child, Benjamin may have been overlooked or spoiled. In a family with twelve sons, it would be easy to overlook the last son, the baby. Yet, that was not the case. Jacob and his sons sheltered and kept Benjamin safe. Reuben made sure Benjamin remained safe. He would not allow the prince of Egypt (his brother, Joseph) to keep him while the brothers returned from Egypt to get their father. Reuben said it would have broken his heart to lose the second son of his favorite wife, Rachel.
Moses’ blessing recognized Benjamin’s specialness to Jacob when he blessed his tribe. He recognized that he and the tribe were beloved and asked for the LORD’s arms to keep him safe and shelter him and the tribe. Moses recognized Benjamin was beloved by Jacob and blessed him so the state of being beloved (much loved and cherished) remained upon him and the tribe. He prayed the LORD would protect them as the eagle’s wings provided protection in Deuteronomy 32:11. When Moses spoke the blessing that the LORD would shield him and he would dwell in security, he alluded to Deuteronomy 32:11. Deuteronomy 32 is the song God commanded Moses write and teach to the Israelites. Moses recognized who Benjamin was to his father and asked the LORD to recognize and give his tribe this same favor.
Besides asking for security and shielding, Moses blessed Benjamin with “dwelling between His (the LORD’s) shoulders.” Once again, he alluded to Deuteronomy 32:11 when the eagle carried her young on her pinions (wings). Just as the eaglets would be safe in the arms (on the wings) of its parents, so Benjamin would dwell safely on the strong shoulders of the LORD. Interestingly, Old Testament scholars find significance in the fact Joshua allotted the tribe of Benjamin land that included Mount Moriah, the site of the future temple of God. Mount Zion is the name given to the place where David built his royal palace. These scholars believe when Moses said Benjamin would dwell between His shoulders he alluded to the future when Benjamin’s land would lie within Mounts Zion and Moriah. The highest part of the land, Mounts Moriah and Zion, Adam Clarke poetically termed the LORD’s shoulders.
Though Benjamin was the youngest son of Jacob and could have been ignored in that position, he was beloved of his father. Jacob did not overlook him, but cherished and blessed him. Likewise, Moses blessed Benjamin, too, like the way Jacob took care of him. He used similar language to what he wrote for the song of chapter 32. Benjamin did not go overlooked. He was loved. Jacob provided for him. Moses blessed him. Joshua gave Benjamin choice land in God’s Promised Land, which resembled Moses’ blessings.
Benjamin was remembered. From this, we can learn and hold to ourselves that we are not forgotten either. From God’s promise to Abraham, we receive blessing if we believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God. God saw Abraham and cared for him enough to meet with him, declare him righteous, and make a covenant with him. He loved Abraham enough to fulfill His promise to Abraham through his descendants. God loved the people of the world enough to provide a way for every person be in a relationship with Him. That way is through the death of His Son, Jesus Christ, who died for our sin penalty. Even before God knew you, He loved you enough to do this. You are beloved to God. He will carry you on His shoulders, shelter you, and give you security just as He did Abraham, Benjamin, David, Paul, and others of His children.
You are not forgotten in the mass of people like the twelfth son could be, but are remembered, cherished, and beloved. Accept God’s love as shown through His Son’s sacrifice. Accept that He loves you so much He allowed His own Son to die in your place for your sins. God blessed you with His Son’s crucifixion and resurrection. Will you accept His blessing? Will you choose to believe in Jesus Christ?
If you are already a Christian, God still loves and cherishes you. Will you allow Him to protect and guide you? We often impede God’s plan and His best for our lives and the world. Will you allow Him to be the Lord of your life now since He is your Savior.
We each have choices to make – Will you accept God’s love and blessings?