Benaiah (Hebrew: בניהו, "Yahweh delivers", or possibly, "the son of Yahweh builds up" is a common name in the Hebrew Bible. In the etymology of the name, the first part of Benaiah comes from the root-verb בנה (bana), which is a common and ubiquitous Hebrew verb meaning "to build". The second part of Benaiah is יה (Yah) = יהו (Yahu) = יו (Yu), a derivative of the Tetragrammaton. The Hebrew word בן (ben), meaning son, is also thought by some to come from the verb בנה (bana).
Son of Jehoiada
In the Hebrew Bible, Benaiah, son of Jehoiada the priest, came from the southern Judean town of Kabzeel and was father of at least two sons, Ammizabad and Jehoiada (1 Chr. 27:5, 6, 34). He was a mighty warrior of great valor and courage, renowned even amongst David's Thirty, although he was not part of The Three (2 Sam. 23:20-23). Benaiah came to prominence by striking down two of Moab’s powerful heroes, by fearlessly descending into a water pit and killing a lion, and by overcoming exceptional odds to slay an Egyptian giant with the victim’s own spear (1 Chr. 11:22-24). David put Benaiah over his personal bodyguard (1 Chr. 11:24, 25) having command over the Cherethites and Pelethites. Benaiah remained loyal to King David during the rebellions of Absalom and Adonijah (2 Sam. 8:18; 15:18; 20:23; 1 Kin. 1:8, 10, 26; 1Ch 18:17) and according to the Chronicler, was appointed over the third rotating division of the army, a force of 24,000 men (1 Chr. 27:5, 6).
In David’s old age, Benaiah and the Cherethites and Pelethites supported the coronation of Solomon (1 Kin. 1:32-40). Later, under Solomon’s reign Benaiah was assigned to carry out the execution of Adonijah (1 Kin. 2:25), Joab (vv.29-24), and Shimei (v.46). King Solomon then put him in command over all the army of the Kingdom of Israel (1 Kin. 2:24, 25, 28-46; 4:4).
Other Benaiahs of the Hebrew Bible are:
- One of David’s mighty men, commander of the 11th rotational army division; a Pirathonite of the tribe of Ephraim (2 Sam. 23:30; 1 Chr. 11:31; 27:14).
- A Levite musician who played his stringed instrument accompanying the ark of the covenant when it was brought to Jerusalem and placed in the tent David had prepared for it (1 Chr. 15:18, 20; 16:1, 5).
- A priest who played a trumpet when the Ark was brought to Jerusalem during David’s reign (1 Chr. 15:24; 16:6).
- A Levite descendant of Asaph, son of Berachiah the Gershonite (2 Chr. 20:14).
- A Simeonite, possibly a contemporary of King Hezekiah (1 Chr. 4:24, 36-43).
- A Levite appointed by Hezekiah to help care for the bounteous contributions to Jehovah’s house (2 Chr. 31:12, 13).
- Father of Pelatiah, one of the wicked princes seen in Ezekiel’s vision (Eze. 11:1, 13).
- Four men who, at Ezra’s admonition, dismissed their foreign wives and sons. These four were descendants of Parosh, Pahath-moab, Bani, and Nebo respectively (Ezr. 10:25, 30, 34, 35, 43, 44).
- Eerdmans 2000, p. 447.
- Abarim Publications, Meaning and etymology of the name Benaiah
- The root-verb בנה (bana) means to build. It's used to describe the construction of all kinds of buildings; a city (Genesis 4:17), a tower (Genesis 10:11), an altar (Genesis 22:9), a house (Genesis 33:27), the temple (2 Samuel 7:5), a fortress (2 Chronicles 17:12), a wall (1 Kings 3:1). It is also used to describe YHWH's making of woman from a rib of man (Genesis 2:22).
- Abbreviated forms of the Tetragrammaton יהוה, YHWH, or Yahweh.
- Abarim Publications, Meaning and etymology of the name Benaiah.
- Eerdmans 2000, p. 164.
- Insight 1988, p. 284.
- Eerdmans 2000, p. 164-165, Ronald A. Simkins, in association with David Noel Freedman, states that the Cherethites and Pelethites were mercenary troops composed of Cretans and Philistines. However, according to Bruce W. Gentry (p.233) "there is not enough evidence to prove conclusively their exact derivation".
- Eerdmans, David Noel Freedman, ed.-in-chief; Allen C. Myers, associate ed. ; Astrid B. Beck, managing (2000). Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI [etc.]: Eerdmans. ISBN 9789053565032.
- Insight (1988). Insight on the Scriptures, Vol. 1. Pennsylvania: Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. p. 284-285.