All About The Benjamins

The subject of homosexuality in the Bible is known to recent Bible scholars, as well as many lay people.  The following explanation of the shirt and flag with the pink (fuchsia) stripe for Benjamin, examines the issue of homosexuality, as it pertains to one particular tribe within Israel, that is the tribe of Benjamin.

As this shirt and flag illustrate, Benjamin was the twelfth born son to Jacob, later renamed Israel.  While giving birth, Rachel named her son, Ben-Oni, translated, “son of my trouble,” and Rachel passed away just after giving birth to him.  Jacob renamed his son Benjamin, meaning “son of my right hand” (Genesis 35:18).  The impact of knowing that your mother died, while giving birth to you, and naming you “son of my trouble,” is difficult to discern, but should not be discounted.

Benjamin was the second son born to Rachel.  Though Leah, Rachel’s sister, bore Jacob six sons, Jacob always preferred and loved Rachel more than Leah (Genesis 29:30).  The first son born to Rachel was Joseph, Jacob’s eleventh son.  Joseph was his father’s favorite (Genesis 37:3) and was threatened with death by some of his elder brothers.  Joseph was sold by these brothers to a caravan of Ishmaelites (Arabs) (Genesis 37:28).  Seeing that his only full brother was so hated by his half-brothers, most likely also caused Benjamin further consternation.  While the impact may not have been felt immediately, his sense of ostracism may have been internalized and felt by future generations.

After over four hundred years as slaves in Egypt, the Israelites were freed and soon settled in their own land.  Shortly thereafter, the Book of Judges, Chapter 19, tells of a Levite and his concubine traveling from Bethlehem, back to their home in the territory of Ephraim.  The couple stopped in the territory of the Benjaminites, hoping to be offered a room for the night.  Eventually an Ephraimite, living in the area, offered to take them in.  Judges 19:22 states, “While they were enjoying themselves, some of the wicked men of the city surrounded the house.  Pounding on the door, they shouted to the old man who owned the house, “Bring out the man who came to your home so we can have sex with him”.”

Eventually the Levite offered these men his concubine, whom he had been traveling with, “they raped her and abused her throughout the night” (Judges 19:25).  Judges 19:29 describes how this Levite found her dead body the next morning, “cut up his concubine, limb by limb, into twelve parts and sent the parts into all the areas of Israel.“  Civil war ensued and all the Israelites vowed not to give their daughters to any Benjaminites (Judges 21:1).  Not acknowledged was the initial homosexual attraction.  The suppression of the homosexual aspect of the initial encounter with the Levite, led to a three millennia Jewish suppression of homosexuality.  

Equally homophobic, has been Christianity, despite their virtually unanimous rejection of all things “Jewish”.  On this issue though, traditional Christianity and Judaism have been in agreement, rejecting and forcing homosexuality deep into the “closet,” hoping and praying it would just go away.  

Further on in history Saul, a Benjaminite, became King of Israel.  Though government leadership was a role and responsibility intended for the tribe of Judah, “The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet” (Genesis 49:10).

When Saul’s son, Jonathan died in battle, David mourned and lamented his death, “I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me.  Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women” (2 Samuel 1:26).  Recent scholars and lay readers infer this to mean that a sexual relationship existed between David and Jonathan.  Homophobic, anti-homosexual scholars and lay people generally reject any notion of a positive Biblical inference to homosexuality.  Any interpretation of homosexuality in the Bible can only be seen in a negative light by most conservatives.

In the current aggregation of the New Testament, Paul, a Benjaminite, confronts the issue of homosexuality.  The four Gospels of the New Testament, make no direct, nor indirect reference to homosexuality.  The New Testament epistles (letters) make numerous and exclusively negative references to homosexuality.  While Christianity has placed Paul (Saint Paul) on a pedestal and treat his letters as scripture; a more discerning look reveals that Paul’s words are often used out of context.  Also Paul’s and some of the other apostles words are often used to inflame hatreds, which church fathers and mothers have worked diligently to exploit. Since Paul’s, Peter’s and other letters are treated as “scripture” and since paganism became and has remained the foundation of Christianity, homophobia has been the rule.  In preferring pagan feasts and festivals, Christianity has near unanimously rejected any efforts or attempts to obey the Biblical Law as expressed in Biblical books two through five (Exodus through Deuteronomy), except to point fingers and judge others for alleged sin based upon laws Christianity rejects as obsolete.  Subsequently certain Biblical Laws become valid, such as when politicians or other men commit adultery, or if a man lies with another man, for example.  This despicable, judgmental, self-righteous attitude continues today by many of the millions of pagans, calling themselves “Christians,” making no effort to live by and thereby attain any true understanding of God’s Law, yet having the audacity to judge others by select portions of the Biblical Law.

This variation of the SONS OF JACOB/ISRAEL flag/shirt with a pink stripe on the bottom representing Israel’s twelfth and final son, Benjamin, is meant to represent the focus of male homosexuality in the Bible, placed to a large extent upon the shoulders of this tribe.  In reality, this burden is heavier or lighter depending upon others attitudes.  The traditional judgmental, condemning attitude leads to a Paul, whose  self-loathing is reflected in Romans 7:15 “For that which I do I allow not; for what I would, that do I not: but what I hate, that do I.”  Romans 7:23-24 further explains Paul’s inner struggle, “But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.  O, wretched man that I am!  Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?  Finally Paul concludes in Romans 7:25 “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.  So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.”  This is not freedom, the mind warring against the flesh.  The problem then and for centuries before and for centuries since is the repression and rejection of homosexuality, along with other natural male sexual outlets and healthy sexual freedoms, particularly within western, Christian/pagan society.