35:18 With her dying breath, 1 she named him Ben-Oni. 2 But his father called him Benjamin instead. 3 35:19 So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). 4 35:20 Jacob set up a marker 5 over her grave; it is 6 the Marker of Rachel’s Grave to this day.
1 tn Heb “in the going out of her life, for she was dying.” Rachel named the child with her dying breath.
2 sn The name Ben-Oni means “son of my suffering.” It is ironic that Rachel’s words to Jacob in Gen 30:1, “Give me children or I’ll die,” take a different turn here, for it was having the child that brought about her death.
3 tn The disjunctive clause is contrastive.
sn His father called him Benjamin. There was a preference for giving children good or positive names in the ancient world, and “son of my suffering” would not do (see the incident in 1 Chr 4:9-10), because it would be a reminder of the death of Rachel (in this connection, see also D. Daube, “The Night of Death,” HTR 61 : 629-32). So Jacob named him Benjamin, which means “son of the [or “my”] right hand.” The name Benjamin appears in the Mari texts. There have been attempts to connect this name to the resident tribe listed at Mari, “sons of the south” (since the term “right hand” can also mean “south” in Hebrew), but this assumes a different reading of the story. See J. Muilenburg, “The Birth of Benjamin,” JBL 75 (1956): 194-201.
4 sn This explanatory note links the earlier name Ephrath with the later name Bethlehem.
5 tn Heb “standing stone.”
6 tn Or perhaps “it is known as” (cf. NEB).