“Benjamin is a ravenous wolf, in the morning devouring the prey and at evening dividing the spoil.” (Genesis 49:27 (ESV)
Jacob articulated his concluding oracle to his youngest son Benjamin. It was brief but not without significance.
Jacob directly compared Benjamin to a ravenous wolf. Jacob said, “Benjamin is a ravenous wolf.” The literal grammar in the Hebrew is “Benjamin, a wolf, is ravenous.” Notice the state of being verb “is.” This is a present and active state of being verb. More than comparing his son to a wolf by what he would do, Jacob compared Benjamin to a wolf on the basis of his character or who he was.
The word ravenous means to tear to pieces or to rend, slash and shred. Add the noun “wolf” to the equation and you have a man, and later a tribe, that would be predatory in their behavior because the man and the tribe was predatory in their nature. Not only would Benjamin become a predator but a ravenous predator.
The predatory characteristic would be evidenced all the time. There would be no respite. Jacob said concerning Benjamin, “in the morning devouring the prey and at evening dividing the spoil.” Whether by day or night, Benjamin and his progeny would be unrelenting in their violent nature and subsequent behavior.
Dr. R. C. Sproul writes, “The Bible is clear that our lives are in large measure molded by the sins (and righteousness) of our forefathers. Benjamin and his offspring are a good example of this truth. Jacob blesses his youngest son in today’s passage, revealing that this tribe will be like a wolf who devours its prey and in the evening divides its spoil (Gen. 49:27). Benjamin will satisfy himself and then divvy up what is left over. In other words, there is the potential for this clan to enjoy abundant success within the family of Israel. Benjamin went on to succeed and father many godly individuals. Ehud, a Benjaminite judge, rescued Israel from Moab (Judg. 3:12–30). Jonathan hailed from the tribe of Benjamin, and, unlike his father Saul, he loved David (1 Sam. 9:1–2; 14:49; 18:1–5). Esther, who saved her people from extinction during Persian rule, and her cousin Mordecai also counted Benjamin as a forefather (Est. 2:5–7). Paul, the great apostle to the Gentiles, was a Benjaminite as well (Rom. 11:1).”
Dr. Sproul continues by explaining, “Though they had sinful ancestors like the rest of us, all of these persons finally chose righteousness over evil. However, the wolf imagery is also forboding, warning of potential danger ahead for Benjamin. This tribe would also be capable of producing unfaithful men. Aside from King Saul, there is the ghastly episode in the period of the judges when certain Benjaminites raped a Levite’s concubine, leading to her death. The authorities in this tribe were unwilling to punish these evil men and compounded sin when they rose to defend them (Judg. 19–21)! These men chose to follow the sin of their clan, and they suffered the inevitable results.”
All believers in Christ have ancestors, near and distant, whose characteristics are seen in their own lives, whether positive or negative. May each of us resolve to emulate and demonstrate the character of the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 12:1-2).
Soli deo Gloria!