BENAIAH (whom Yahweh built): The name of several Israelites. The most important of them is the valorous son of Jehoiada of Kabzeel, a city in the south of Judah (Josh. xv, 21). He is honorably mentioned (II Sam. xxiii, 20 ff.; cf. I Chron. xi, 22 ff.) among the mighty men of David, to whom he always faithfully adhered. Three heroic exploits of his are mentioned in justification of his rank: he slew the two sons of Ariel (according to the LXX), either a distinguished Moabite (so Josephus, Ant., VII, xii, 4) or the king of Moab, in the war with that people II Sam. viii, 2); he killed a lion which had fallen into a pit in time of snow; and, finally, he overcame an Egyptian giant, who carried a spear so large that it seemed like a tree thrown across a ravine (according to an addition of the LXX), or like a weavers beam (according to I Chron. xi, 23); Benaiah disarmed his opponent and killed him with his own weapon. Being prominent among Davids thirty heroes, Benaiah was set over the Cherethites and Pelethites, Davids bodyguard (II Sam. viii, 18; xx, 23). In the beginning of Solomons reign, to whom he became devoted at once (I Kings i, 8), Benaiah still held this office and executed the judgment of the king upon Adonijah and Joab (I Kings ii, 25, 30, 34), and became Joabs successor as commander-in-chief (I Kings ii, 35). When, under David, the army was organized, besides his regular office he had command over one of the twelve divisions of 24,000 men (I Chron. xxvii, 5, 6, where his father, Jehoida, strange to say, is called the priest, which is no doubt a mistaken gloss founded upon I Chron. xii, 27).
C. VON ORELLI.