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BENAIAH (Heb. בְּנָיָהוּ, בְּנָיָה; "yhwh has built"), son of Jehoiada, one of David's warriors and Solomon's commander in chief. Benaiah came from Kabzeel in Judah. Famous for his individual acts of valor, the killing of two warriors, the slaying of a lion in a pit in the snow, and the defeating of an Egyptian giant, he was one of David's most honored warriors (ii Sam. 23:20–23; i Chron. 11:22–25). It is reasonable to attribute some of these deeds to the period of David's outlawry or to the first part of his reign. David appointed Benaiah as the head of his bodyguard (ii Sam. 23:23; i Chron. 11:25), identified by some scholars with the Cherethites and Pelethites (ii Sam. 20:23, according to the keri; i Chron. 18:17; cf. ii Sam. 8:18; i Kings 1:38), whose commander was also Benaiah. After the death of *Ahithophel, he served as counselor to David, together with the priest *Abiathar (i Chron. 27:33–34, where the order of the names should be reversed according to some versions: "Benaiah son of Jehoiada" instead of "Jehoiada son of Benaiah"). Benaiah opposed *Adonijah's attempt to seize the crown at the end of David's reign and, together with the priest *Zadok and the prophet *Nathan, he proclaimed Solomon king (i Kings 1:8–44). He later carried out the liquidation of *Shimei, of Solomon's rival *Adonijah, and of the latter's supporter *Joab (2:25–46), in whose stead Solomon appointed Benaiah commander in chief.


Bright, Hist, 189–90; de Vaux, Anc Isr. 127–8, 220–1; Dinaburg (Dinur), in: Zion, 11 (1946), 165ff.; Mazar, in: Sefer D. Ben Gurion (1964), 248–67.

[Yehoshua M. Grintz]

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