We have a rule that everything found in the Navi (Prophets) and Ketuvim (Writings) are sourced in the Torah (see opinion of Rabbi Yochanan in Taanit 9a, see also Talmud Yerushalmi Megilla Chapter 1 Halacha 5 and accompanying commentaries).

In the story of Pilegesh BaGivah (Shoftim Chapter 19), the tribe of Binyamin seemingly sin in a big way. What is the root of this tribe's sin in the Torah itself, as affiliated with Binyamin.

This is especially hard to understand bearing in mind that the Torah has very little bad to say about Binyamin, and the Talmud (Bava Batra 17a) describes him as one of the four people who never sinned?

  • @BabySeal This does put things into context and shed light on Binyamin's character, but still does not answer the question
    – AKayser
    Jun 10, 2014 at 16:10
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    you are looking for specific actions by Benjamin? Because that should be made clearer, as the source you bring from taanit, only states that they are hinted at in the Torah, not sourced in actions done by people in the Torah. As far as I see it, that Rashi DOES answer the question, as is. This definitely constitutes a hint, just serpentine Dan alludes to Samson.
    – Baby Seal
    Jun 10, 2014 at 16:34
  • @BabySeal you are correct the Gemara in Taanit says everything is alluded to in the Torah. I suppose this does answer the question as to the Torah source of Binyamin's actions in Navi. The question of why Binyamin was viewed as a "wolf" given that he never sinned (and what act did he do to earn such a title), is another question.
    – AKayser
    Jun 10, 2014 at 16:51
  • Thought: Benjamin did kill his mother in labor, which was said to be very difficult.
    – Baby Seal
    Jun 10, 2014 at 17:16
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    @AKayser Rabbi Shimshon Refael Hirsch says that Binyomin is not necessarily being called a "wolf who tears" but is being blessed as one who "will tear a wolf". Ze'ev yitrof can be read both ways. Jun 10, 2014 at 17:26

3 Answers 3


Rashi on Benjamin's blessing says that his being a "wolf that will tear", alludes in part to the incident at Gibeah, wherein Benjaminites raped a woman to death.


From memory:

The Sanhedrin of Binyamin insisted that they would take care of the matter and would not allow the judges of the other tribes to "interfere". The other tribes insisted that because this was similar to what happened in S'dom, it had to be handled by the unified batei din of all the tribes (or a national Sanhedrin). Note that the incident itself was not the same as the incident of S'dom since only a few evil people acted in this way. The tribes were also punished for overreacting in this way by losing the first battles.

IIRC the actual problem was the disunity among the tribes and that "each man acted as seemed best in his eyes" (paraphrase). It was this disunity, which was like what led to the sale of Yosef, which led to the punishment.

As @AKayser points out, Binyomin had not been involved in the sale of Yosef, but we see that the same flaw that existed then existed now. Perhaps it is like Yosef bringing "dibasam ra" to his father.

We should also note, that the flaw may have been one that we do not fully notice and would not have been accounted a fault in Binyamin himself. From the way I read the story, it was the flaw in Bnei Yisrael that led to the end of the era of the Shoftim and the necessity for a melech. As a result, the particular case was the final straw in exhibiting that fault. Consider that right after getting the Torah, Bnei Yisrael were besieging Moshe with court cases. This tendency eventually led to the civil war.

  • This answer implies that the tribe of Binyamin was not at fault, and therefore Binyamin himself cannot be the root of this supposed sin. Rather, that the sin was that of all the tribes (and their lack of unity), which we initially see in the Torah itself with regards to Yosef's sale. The one interesting point would be that Binyamin was the only tribe NOT involved in the sale of Yosef. @sabbahillel
    – AKayser
    Jun 10, 2014 at 13:15
  • @AKayser Actually the tribe of Binyamin was at fault as well. When the tribe of Reuven went back over the Yarden and put up what appeared to be a mizbeach, the other tribes were ready to go to war until it was explained. They avoided the war because they carefully explained what happened. Here the tribe of Binyamin also insisted on its way and was at fault. Jun 10, 2014 at 13:19
  • Thank you for that. However, the question would still follow, as per the question above, what is the source of Binyamin's sin in the Torah/Chumash?
    – AKayser
    Jun 10, 2014 at 13:26
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    @AKayser note that when it refers to the concept of a hint, the flaw can be so minor as to be virtually invisible (from explanations by people like Rav Shimshon Rafael Hirsch). As a result, it could be something that we do not see. I will try to add more of above. Jun 10, 2014 at 17:28

Benjamin was the youngest of Jacob's sons. The baby of the family either gets spoiled as a darling or a show-off, or has a lot to prove and measure up to, being the last of the children. He also lost his mother at childbirth (a blow). I don't have the numbers in front of me, but wasn't Benjamin the smallest or smaller of the tribes in numbers as well as they had a smaller plot of land? Perhaps sometimes the tribe of Benjaminites had to fight for what they wanted. So here came the big problem when a few men within the boundaries of Benjamin, gang-raped a man's concubine. The people of Benjamin didn't want to bring the perpetrator to justice when all the other tribes were breathing down their throat, they'd rather fight their way out to prove a point of demanding some respect for their own affairs (-?-). Most of the men were decimated by that national fiasco, but 600 of the Benjaminite men got to marry young women from the other tribes.

To their credit, in the last days I do believe that Benjamin is a bridge between the tribes of Judah (and his brethren), and Ephraim (and his brethren)...just as their geography was: Sandwiched between Judah and Ephraim in the tribal lands. The Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs indicated that Benjamin's descendants will have developed charity (charitable acts and compassion) for others. Perhaps that was borne out of suffering (Ben-Oni, his first name given by his dying mother).

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