“Ben-Oni” or “Ben-Yamin”


Genesis 35:18 “And it came to pass, as her “soul” was departing, that she (Rachel) “called” his name Ben~Oni “son of my sorrow” but his father called him Binyamin “son of the right hand.”

Rabbi would you explain why Yaakov ignored Rachel’s name for their son?

Hebrew names are specific and descriptive regarding character or circumstance. Rachel experienced grievous labor with their son and died as a result. The baby indeed brought her much sorrow in childbirth. Of course, the name wasn’t encouraging – however, many Hebrew names aren’t always desirable, yet the are emeth, truth.



  1. The Rabbis explains that the inference of the name Ben-Oni is that his birth caused Rachel’s death. Yaakov wanted to retain the form of the name that Rachel gave but he wanted to give it an optimistic connotation. That is why he called the baby Ben-Yamin, which means the “son of his strength.”

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team