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Research Materials On Paul As The Benjamite Wolf of Prophecy


Hippolytus' Quote


In Jesus Words Only, chapter 14 presented the case that Paul fulfilled the Ravening Benjamite Wolf Prophecy of Jacob found at Genesis 49:27. See "Benjamite Wolf."

We quoted the early church commentator, Hippolytus (170-236 AD), who saw Paul perfectly fit the Benjamite Ravening Wolf of Genesis 49:27. Hippolytus did so not realizing how negative the original Hebrew was about this person. In context, this verse is part of Jacob's prophesies for each tribe. After depicting Judah as one who will rule, and who will "rise" after being treated like prey, and whose garments are splatterd with what looks like "blood of grapes,"  -- an obvious prophecy about Jesus, Jacobs prophesies of the tribe of Benjamin:


Benjamin is a tearing wolf (ravening wolf);

in the morning eating the prey,

and at evening dividing booty.

(Gen. 49:27, Friedman Translation, from Commentary of the Torah (2001) at 161.)


However, Hippolytus trusted the Greek Septuagint translation of 257 BC. After it says "Benjamin is a ravening wolf," it then translates the next part as the wolf "divided the food" in Greek.  

However, this mistranslated the Hebrew word for spoil or booty which is shalal as simply trophe -- food in Greek.  This lost in translation that Benjamin divided up an ill-gotten gain which the word spoil or booty would correctly convey.

Thus, the "dividing" behavior - dividing the spoils / booty -- was still part of the wolf's evil behavior. The Hebrew did not mean the more inoccuous concept of "apportioning food."

An example proving its negative meaning is its identical use in in Exodus 15:9 when it says about Egypt, the pursuers of God's people: "The enemy said, 'I'll pursue! I'll catch up! I'll divide the spoil [shalal]." See Friedman Translation Ex. 15:9; see also Hebrew tab at Biblehub.com for Ex. 15:9.


Unaware of the Hebrew meaning of the original verse, Hippolytus first quoted the verse Gen 49:27 as saying: 

Benjamin is a ravening wolf; in the morning he shall devour still, and till evening he apportions food.


Then HIPPOLYTUS commented:


"This thoroughly suits Paul, who was of the tribe of Benjamin. For when he was young, he was a ravening wolf; but when he believed, he apportioned food. This also is shown us by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that the tribe of Benjamin is among the first persecutors, which is the sense of in the morning. For Saul, who was of the tribe of Benjamin, persecuted David, who was appointed to be a type of the Lord." [Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies 5.168.]

[Catholic New Advent Encyclopedia.][Rev. S.D.F.Salmond, Hippolytus of Rome: Extant Fragments of Hippolytus.] [Ante-Nicene Fathers - Hippolytus (trans. Rev. J. H. Macmahon) Vol. 5


But the second portion means "divide the spoils" or "booty."

How did Paul fulfill this?

In chapter 14 of JWO, we pointed out that Paul claimed in Galatians that the 12 apostles consented to a division of Christianity in two: Paul alone would go to the Gentiles, and the 12 would go exclusively to the Jews. Yet, this was preposterous to believe was truly consensual -- the 12 were evangelizing Gentiles in Spain (James), India (Thomas and Bartholomew), Persia (Matthew), and Italy, Syria (Peter).  Yet, this proves Paul was trying to "divide the spoils" in his favor among those he previously was murdering. Thus, Paul perfectly fits the Benjamite Wolf of prophecy.


Quotes of Jerome, Tertullian and Testament of the 12 Patriarchs


Besides Hippolytus, there are three more sources from the early church who thought Paul fulfilled the Benjamite Wolf prophecy in Genesis 49:27. These three were: Jerome and Tertullian and a Christian interpolator to the Testament of the 12 Patriarchs.

First, in a letter of Jerome to Marcella in 386 AD, it reads in part:

If the faith of the apostle Peter is shaken by Our Lord's passion, it is that amid his bitter tears he may hear the words: "Feed my sheep." Paul, that ravening wolf, that little Benjamin, is blinded in a trance, but as the result he gains clear vision, and from the sudden horror of darkness around him calls upon Him as Lord whom in the past he persecuted as man.

Sancti Eusebii Hieronymi Epistulae (ed. Isidorus Hilberg) (New York: Johnson, 1970, repr.1910-18) 3 Vols.; ep.38. The translation and annotation from F.A.Wright, Select Letters of St. Jerome (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1933, repr.1980) at 158-67 (reprinted online at http://epistolae.ccnmtl.columbia.edu/letter/308.html)

Tertullian in 202 AD in Scorpion's Sting saw Paul as fulfilling Genesis 49:27, in the Septuagint rendering where the second part is fuflilled by supplying food:

But how Paul...who first of all shed the blood of the church, though afterwards he exchanged the sword for the pen, and turned the dagger into a plough, being first a ravening wolf of Benjamin, then himself supplying food as did Jacob,92 -how he, (I say, ) speaks in favour of martyrdoms.... (Scorpion's Sting, Ch. 13.)

Tertullian in 207 A.D. in Against Marcion still has the same outlook that Paul was fulfilling the prophecy in Genesis 49, but like others familiar with the Greek Septuagint Bible, Tertullian spins the second part of Gen 49:27 to Paul's favor -- which positive spin is textually implausible from the Hebrew, as discussed in Jesus' Words Only (2007) at 335. Regardless, Tertullian wrote in 207 A.D.:

Because even the book of Genesis so long ago promised me the Apostle Paul. For among the types and prophetic blessings which he pronounced over his sons, Jacob, when he turned his attention to Benjamin, exclaimed, “Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf; in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall impart nourishment.” He foresaw that Paul would arise out of the tribe of Benjamin, a voracious wolf, devouring his prey in the morning: in order words, in the early period of his life he would devastate the Lord’s sheep, as a persecutor of the churches; but in the evening he would give them nourishment, which means that in his declining years he would educate the fold of Christ, as the teacher of the Gentiles. Tertullian, Latin Christianity: Its Founder Tertullian (ed. Philip Schaff)(1885) at 735 (PDF at 783)(downloaded from Christian Classics Ethereal Library at this link.)

But again, Tertullian is placing a favorable spin on something that in Genesis in Hebrew is not favorable. "Dividing the spoils" means taking those you killed and then eating them. Paul divided the church and then sucked away the Gentiles for himself. The second part of Gen 49:27 does not read "shall impart nourishment" in the Hebrew original.

What explains this? The erroneous translation of the Hebrew Bible into the Greek Septuagint of 257 BC.  The Masoretic Hebrew text says "divide the spoil" (shalal in Hebrew) in 49:27, but the Septuagint Greek translation says "will provide food" -- trophe in Greek. (See Septuagint Gen. 49; see also Septuagint English translation, Gen. 49 in English translation "gives food"). 

Finally, the Jewish Encyclopedia in "Benjamin" notes that in the early church a third source identified Paul as the ravening wolf of the Genesis prophecy, and this translates 49:27 in part as "devours" his enemy rather than as "apportioning the food":

[Benjamin's] comparison to the ravening wolf (Cant. R. to viii. 1), "who devours his enemy" (Gen. xlix. 27) is referred to ... also in the original text of the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs [Benjamin ii]; whereas a Christian interpolation refers it to Paul.

The Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs as interpolated  softens the "original" version. The interpolated version was a Christian (Pauline) work from about 200 AD of what purported to be solely a Jewish document that existed prior to the Christian era. See "Testament of the 12" and "Patriachs." This source tries to turn around Jacob's prophecy from a negative to a positive. This time Benjamin is speaking, and he himself prophesies that no longer will he be called the wolf that ravens, but a blessing to the Gentiles. Obviously, it was politically necessary for Paulinists to deflect the attention this verse had as inimical to Paul's validity. Thus this apocryphal interpolated book was invented to help have Benjamin contradict Jacob's true prophecy which was that the end result from the Benjamite Wolf was negative.


Jesus' Message About The Ravening Wolf Is More Identifying

Both Tertullian and Jerome failed to line up Genesis with our Savior's Words that speak clearly that the "ravening wolf_in_sheeps_clothingwolf" who comes as a false prophet in "sheep's clothing," i.e., outwardly appears to be a Christian. Our savior says that inwardly this sheep-appearing person is actually a "ravening wolf." (Matt. 7:15.) Our Lord deliberately spoke of the "ravening wolf" knowing that Genesis spoke about the "ravening wolf" coming from the tribe of Benjamin. (Gen. 49:27.) This was our Good Shepherd's effort to leave behind a prophetic message to identify the coming one we should not trust is a true sheep.


Study Notes

Justin Martyr in 165 AD discusses that Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of Jacob of Shiloh to come who would wash his garments in the "blood of grapes." See First Apology XL at page 40 and LXXI at pages 66-67.

Email Inquiry About How Paul Can Be Benjamite & Herodian At Same Time

V's Question:


Your friend V again.  Could you elaborate on Paul's fulfillment of the Benjamite wolf prophecy vis a vis the discussion of his Herodian ancestoral connection.  If he was born of Greek parents, how can he be from the tribe of Benjamin? Thanks in advance for your time.


My Reply


As I explained in JWO, Herodians are mixed ethnic figures. They have 1 parent who is Jewish, and one who is not, or somewhere in the ancestral line this is true. If Paul was a Herodian, it could mean that one parent was from one of the 12 tribes. So if one is a Benjamite tribal member who marries an Herodian, Paul belongs to the tribe of Benjamin. Paul is thus not technically Jewish / an Israelite in the traditional definition of having a mother who is Jewish / an Israelite (which is tradition), but Paul would still be a Benjamite because tribal status exists even if it is a mixed line.

For example, 2 of the 12 tribes were mixed from the beginning -- the children of Joseph by an Egyptian wife. The tribe of Manesseh is one of them. Here is a Biblical depiction of that tribe of Israel which is half Israelite (Joseph) and half from an Egyptian mother. Thus, this supports viewing tribal lineage is not a matter of Israelite purity at all. Here is the wikipedia link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manasseh_(tribal_patriarch) and a snippet quote:

Manasseh or Menashe (Hebrew: vvvvv, Modern Menaše Tiberian M?naššéhSamaritan Mana) was, according to the Book of Genesis, the first son of Joseph and Asenath. (Genesis 41:50-52) Asenath was an Egyptian woman whom Pharaoh gave to Joseph as wife, and the daughter of Potipherah, a priest of On. (Genesis 41:50-52) Manasseh was born in Egypt before the arrival of the children of Israel from Canaan. (Genesis 48:5)

And here is a reference to this Manasseh becoming a tribal head from Wikipedia at this link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tribe_of_Manasseh:

According to the Hebrew Bible, the Tribe of Manasseh (play /m...næs../; Hebrew: ...., Modern Menashe Tiberian M..naššé ; "who makes to forget") was one of the Tribes of Israel. Together with the Tribe of Ephraim, Manasseh also formed the House of Joseph.

Hence, I would say that Paul can be of the tribe of Benjamin and an Herodian as his epistles and temple service support Paul enjoyed both lineages.

Blessings, Doug

Deuteronomy 33:12's Promise of Protection to Those Beloved of Lord When Among Benjamites

If you read the Dead Sea Scrolls Bible (manuscript 250 BC) of Deuteronomy 33:12, you are reading the least possibly altered and oldest manuscript version of the Bible. The DSS version has Jacob's words of blessings over each tribe, in which Jacob says of Benjamin (and this is all Jacob says):

"Of Benjamin he said: "The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by him. He covers him all the day long, and he [NIV correctly extrapolates as "the one the Lord loves"] dwells between his shoulders." (Abegg, etc., DSS page 194.)

This same "safety by him" is found in the ASV, NASB, Darby, Webster's, YLT. And the comparable "with him" is found in the KJV and God's Word.

However, the NIV renders it to flatter Benjamin and make him the source of protection: "Let the beloved rest secure in him."

But the DSS and the greater / better translations say that the beloved of the Lord shall rest in "safety by him." This can easily mean Benjamin cannot touch the beloved of the Lord.

Then "He covers him" is God covers "him" i.e., the beloved of the Lord, and "he" - the beloved of the Lord - "dwells between his shoulders" meaning that those God loves can lay their head even on Benjamin, and show him affection, but God promises the "beloved of the Lord" can do so safely. Even the NIV renders this second sentence to mean this.

Hence, Deut 33:12 is a promise of protection of those whom God loves that they cannot be truly harmed by those associated with Benjamin.