And so it was, as her soul was departing (for she died), that she called his name Ben-Oni; but his father called him Benjamin. (Genesis 35:16)
Obviously, Jacob didn’t want his son’s name to be associated with the mourning of his beloved Rachel, and so he called him Ben Yamin (Benjamin). Literally this means “son of the right hand” which is to denote power and strength. The word yamin is related to the word yamim which means “days” and thus, the name Benjamin also suggests “son of my days” or “son of my old age.” Benjamin would also be linked to the love of his life and, presumably, would give him strength and encouragement as he grew older without her.
Like most everything else in the Bible there may be something prophetic hinted at in this story. Perhaps this dual naming is to allude to things that would pertain to the end of days as well. The name Ben-oni speaks to the idea that Rachel would mourn for her children because they are scattered through nations. Ben-yamin speaks to the fact that, in the end days, they will be gathered by the “son of the right hand” which is to say, the Messiah.
In one person’s name we can see both tragedy and triumph; exile and restoration. This is the story of Israel and it is our story as well. We have all suffered loss and tragedy, but because of the Messiah and His willingness to suffer on our behalf, we have the promise of triumph over the Adversary and restoration to the Father. In the days ahead, may this truth give us strength and power to endure to the end and overcome our enemy.
Blessings and Shalom,