16 They moved on from Bethel. Ephrath wasn’t very far away when Rachel began to have a baby. She was having a very hard time of it. 17 The woman who helped her saw that she was having problems. So she said to Rachel, “Don’t be afraid. You have another son.” 18 But Rachel was dying. As she took her last breath, she named her son Ben-Oni. But his father named him Benjamin. 19 So Rachel died. She was buried beside the road to Ephrath. Ephrath was also called Bethlehem. 20 Jacob set up a stone marker over her tomb. To this day, the stone marks the place where Rachel was buried. 21 Israel moved on again. He set up his tent beyond Migdal Eder. 22 While Israel was living in that area, Reuben went in and slept with Bilhah. She was the concubine of Reuben’s father. And Israel heard about it. Here are the 12 sons Jacob had. 23 Leah was the mother of Reuben, Jacob’s oldest son. Her other sons were Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar and Zebulun. 24 The sons of Rachel were Joseph and Benjamin. 25 The sons of Rachel’s female servant Bilhah were Dan and Naphtali. 26 The sons of Leah’s female servant Zilpah were Gad and Asher. These were Jacob’s sons. They were born in Paddan Aram.
Rachel died after giving birth to Benjamin. A tragic outcome for poor Rachel who just wanted to give her husband Jacob more sons. At least she died knowing she had a second son and that he was fine. After Rachel dies Jacob changes the name of his new born son. The passage also details the names of Jacobs other sons and which woman bore them.
It is fascinating that Jacob changed his son’s name from “Son of my pain” to “Son of My right Hand or Son of Good Fortune – Benjamin” Jacob didn’t want this boy’s identity to be based on the current very sad and unfortunate circumstance of Rachel’s death. Benjamin had a good life to look forward to and Jacob wanted his identity to stem from this. No matter what our current circumstances are like we have a future and a hope in God. Our born again identity comes from God not what we might be currently facing.
Dear God, thank you for the new identity you give us when we put our trust in you. Amen
Written by Ainslie Woods