Answering The Atheist
June 26, 2005 / Volume 5, Issue 26
THE ATHEIST'S COMPLAINT:
Who were the sons of Benjamin? Genesis 46:21, Numbers 26:38-40, 1 Chronicles 7:6 and 1 Chronicles 8:1-2 do not agree. Is there a contradiction?
In Genesis 46, Benjamin is said to have 10 sons: Bela, Becher, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Eri, Rosh, Muppim, Huppim and Ard. From the text in Numbers, we are told of only 5 sons of Benjamin: Bela, Ashbel, Ahiram, Shupham and Hupham. In this text, Ard and Naaman are identified as sons of Bela, and thus grandsons of Benjamin. In 1 Chronicles 7, only three sons of Benjamin are mentioned: Bela, Becher and Jediael. Shuppim and Huppim are listed as great grandchildren of Benjamin, through Bela's son Ira. Finally, in 1 Chronicles 8, there are 5 sons of Benjamin listed: Bela, Ahsbel, Aharah, Nohah and Rapha, with several others mentioned as grandchildren.
First, it should be understood that the Hebrew word "ben" (translated son) is not exclusive to immediate relations. The word is used of not only an individual's sons, but also his grandsons. This being the case, it is certainly acceptable for grandsons to be listed as "sons of Benjamin".
Why the varying numbers in the different accounts? It is possible that some writers intended only to list the prominent members of Benjamin's family, while others sought to be more extensive. It would seem to be fruitless to attempt to sift through Benjamin's lineage, or any other of which there may be some dispute, for those who oppose the Bible on such a basis as this, even if we could lay out the details of the genealogy accurately, would still no doubt be unbelieving.
There is no contradiction.
This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible