The younger son of Jacob and Rachel (Gen. 35: 18), from whom the tribe of Benjamin claimed to be descended. He is mentioned as being close to Joseph, and this suggests that historically the Benjaminites were associated with the northern (Joseph) tribes, which makes good sense as the name Benjamin means southerner. They occupied a strip of land which was a buffer south of Ephraim and north of Judah. After an atrocity which led to an onslaught from the other tribes (Judg. 20), a weakened Benjamin became dependent on Judah.

Saul came from the tribe, but so also did Shimei and Sheba, opponents of David (2 Sam. 16: 5; 20: 1). After the separation of Israel and Judah into two kingdoms, Benjamin became part of the southern kingdom (Neh. 11: 7) but descendants of the tribe still remembered their history, as did Jeremiah (1: 1) and Paul (Phil. 3: 5).