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In Genesis 46:21 are written all the names of the sons of Benjamin:

ובני בנימן בלע ובכר ואשבל גרא ונעמן אחי וראש מפים וחפים וארד.

The sons of Benjamin: Bela, Beker, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Ehi, Rosh, Muppim, Huppim and Ard.

The Midrash says that each of the names was given by Benjamin for reminding him to events that occurred to Yosef. How could Benjamin know what was going on to Yosef?

Rashi says:

כי נכמרו רחמיו. שְׁאָלוֹ יֵשׁ לְךָ אָח מֵאֵם? אָמַר לוֹ אָח הָיָה לִי, וְאֵינִי יוֹדֵעַ הֵיכָן הוּא; יֵשׁ לְךָ בָנִים? אָמַר לוֹ יֵשׁ לִי י', אָמַר לוֹ מַה שְּׁמָם? אָמַר לוֹ בֶּלַע וָבֶכֶר וְגוֹ'; אָמַר מַה טִּיבָן שֶׁל שֵׁמוֹת הַלָּלוּ? אָמַר לוֹ כֻּלָּם עַל שֵׁם אָחִי וְהַצָּרוֹת אֲשֶׁר מְצָאוּהוּ, בֶּלַע שֶׁנִּבְלַע בֵּין הָאֻמּוֹת, בֶּכֶר שֶׁהָיָה בְּכוֹר לְאִמִּי, אַשְׁבְּאֵל שֶׁשְּׁבָאוֹ אֵל, גֵּרָא שֶׁגָּר בְּאַכְסַנְיָא, וְנַעֲמָן שֶׁהָיָה נָעִים בְּיוֹתֵר, אֵחִי וָרֹאשׁ – אָחִי הָיָה וְרֹאשִׁי הָיָה, מֻפִּים – מִפִּי אָבִי לָמַד, וְחֻפִּים – שֶׁלֹּא רָאָה חֻפָּתִי וְלֹא רָאִיתִי אֲנִי חֻפָּתוֹ, וָאָרְדְּ – שֶׁיָּרַד לְבֵין הָאֻמּוֹת, כִּדְאִיתָא בְּמַסֶּכֶת סוֹטָה, מִיָּד נִכְמְרוּ רַחֲמָיו:

כי נכמרו רחמיו FOR HIS COMPASSION WAS EXCITED — He asked him, “Have you a brother of the same mother as yourself?” — He replied, “I had a brother but I know not where he is”. — “Have you sons?” He replied, “I have ten”. Joseph asked him, “And what are their names?” Benjamin replied, “Bela, Becher etc.” (cf. 46:21). Joseph then enquired, “What are the ideas underlying these names?” He replied, “They all have some reference to my brother and the troubles that have befallen him. I called them Bela (בלע) because he disappeared (נבלע) amongst alien nations; Becher (בכר) because he was the firstborn (בכור) of his mother; Ashbel (אשבאל) because God sent him into captivity (שבאו אל), Gera (גרא) because he had to live (גר) in a foreign country; Naaman (נעמן) because he was exceedingly pleasant (נעים); Ahi (אחי) and Rosh (ראש) because he was my brother (אח) and my superior (ראש) ; Muppim (מופים) because he learned from the mouth (מפי) of my father; Huppim (חופים) because he did not witness my marriage (חופה —marriage canopy) and I did not witness his marriage; and Ard (ארד) because he went down (ירד) amongst the nations” — just as it related in Treatise Sotah 36b. When he heard all this immediately his affection was enkindled.

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  • He knew about the sale of Yosef
    – Dov
    Dec 19, 2023 at 8:54
  • He knew Yosef was sold into slavery. There are no specifics about what happened after that.
    – shmosel
    Dec 19, 2023 at 8:54
  • Related (duplicate?): judaism.stackexchange.com/q/12701/6592
    – shmosel
    Dec 19, 2023 at 9:31

1 Answer 1

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Other than his sale, none of the names suggest more than what happened.

And he knew about the sale.

Refer to the Midrash Shocher Tov 15:4:

לא רגל על לשונו. זה בנימין שהיה יודע במכירתו של יוסף ולא גילה לאביו

And to not speak ill of one's neighbor. This is Benjamin, who knew of Joseph's sale and did not reveal it to his father

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    There is לא ראיתי אני חופתו, but that could be an assumption.
    – shmosel
    Dec 19, 2023 at 9:28
  • Agreed. (15 char)
    – Dov
    Dec 19, 2023 at 9:29

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