BENAIAH (Hebrew, "Benayallu" or "Benayah," "the Lord hath built").

—Biblical Data:
  • 1. One of the Bene Parosh who took foreign wives (Ezra x. 25); in I Esd. ix. 26 he is called "Baanias."
  • 2. One of the Bene Pahath-moab in the same list (Ezra x. 30), called "Naidus" in I Esd. ix. 31.
  • 3. One of the Bene Bani in the same list (Ezra x. 35); he is called "Mabdai" in I Esd. ix. 34.
  • 4. One of the Bene Nebo in the same list (Ezra x. 43); he is called "Banaias" in I Esd. ix. 35.
  • 5. A. Simeonite chief (I Chron. iv. 36).
  • 6. Son of Jeiel, and grandfather of the Jahaziel who brought a message of encouragement to Jehoshaphat (II Chron. xx. 14).
  • 7. Father of Pelatiah, the prince of the people denounced by Ezekiel (Ezek. xi. 1, 13).
  • 8. The Pirathonite, one of the thirty valiant men of David (I Chron. xi. 31; II Sam. xxiii. 30), commanding the army in the eleventh month (I Chron. xxvii. 14).
  • 9. A Levite singer (I Chron. xv. 18), who also played in the Temple service (I Chron. xv. 20, xvi. 5).
  • 10. A priest, one of those who "did blow with the trumpets before the ark" (I Chron. xv. 24, xvi. 6).
  • 11. A Levite in the reign of Hezekiah, who assisted in keeping the offerings brought to the Temple (II Chron. xxxi. 13).
  • 12. Son of Jehoiada, a priest (I Chron. xxvii. 5) who distinguished himself in military affairs under David, and later on in Solomon's reign. Three of his exploits are particularly mentioned: (1) the slaughter of the two Ariels of Moab; (2) the killing of a lion that had been trapped in a pit: Benaiah descended into the pit and there battled with the beast; (3) the overthrow of an Egyptian or a Miẓri, from whom he wrenched his weapon and slew him with it (II Sam. xxiii. 20-22 = I Chron. xi. 22-25). Officially Benaiah held various positions. He commanded the Cherethites and Pelethites (II Sam. viii. 18, xx. 23); was placed by David over the guard (I Chron. xi. 25; II Sam. xxiii. 23); and commanded the army in the third month (I Chron. xxvii. 5). In Adonijah's attempt at the kingship, Benaiah sided with Solomon (I Kings i. 8 et seq.) and took part in proclaiming the latter king. On the death of David, Benaiah, by order of Solomon, put Joab and Adonijah to death (I Kings ii. 25). Later Benaiah succeeded to the supreme command of the army (I Kings ii. 35). Along with the other priest Abiathar, Benaiah acted as one of the counselors of King David (I Chron. xxvii. 34; the reading "Jehoiada ben Benaiah" is evidently wrong).
J. Jr. G. B. L.—In Rabbinical Literature:

The Rabbis taught that Benaiah was president of the Sanhedrin under David (Ber. 4a). His position as leader of the Jewish scholars is declared to be indicated in II Sam. xxiii. 20, the verse being expounded as follows: Benaiah was a man, ("son of a valiant man," A. V.; Hebr., "son of a man living"), who could be called "alive" even after his death; "who had done many acts"; of "Kabzeel," i.e., he was very active in behalf of the Torah ("kabaẓ," he collected; "el," for God). "He slew two sons of Ariel." There was noone like him either at the time of the first or of the second Temple, Ariel, "lion of God," being a symbolic name for Temple. "He went down and slew a lion in the midst of a pit in the time of snow," may be interpreted either that he broke the ice in order to perform prescribed ablutions, or, figuratively, that he studied on a winter's day the great and abstruse book, Sifra (Ber. 18b; Targ. II Sam. l.c.).

Benaiah also occupied an eminent position under Solomon, being his chancellor and best friend. When the queen of Sheba was coming to visit Solomon, the latter sent Benaiah, whose beauty resembled the morning star, to meet her; he shone among his companions like Venus among the other stars (Targ. Sheni on Esther i. 2; ed. Munk, p. 9). When the queen saw him, she thought him Solomon, and was about to fall on her knees before him; when he told her who he was, she said to her companions: "Although ye have not seen the lion, ye have seen his den; judging by Benaiah, ye may form for yourselves an idea of Solomon" (l.c. p. 10). When Solomon returned to Jerusalem after his long wanderings (compare Solomon in Rabbinical Literature), he at once went to Benaiah and reminded him of the times past, giving such details that the latter could not doubt that he was talking with Solomon (Midrash "Shir ha-Shirim," ed. Grünhut, p. 30a; compare Giṭ. 68b; see also Jellinek, "B. H." vi. 124-126). In the cabalistic literature Benaiah is counted among the thirty pious ones who exist in every generation in order that the world may continue (Zohar i. 105b; compare i. 6b).

J. Sr. L. G.
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