Wednesday, March 9, 2022

The Hebrew noun בן (bên) is the word for "son." For example, Genesis 4:25 says: "Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son (בן)." The word בן (bên) is also consistently used with personal names, creating the "son of" pattern called a patronymic commonly seen in the Hebrew Bible. An example of this use of בן (bên) is seen in Numbers 14:30: "Caleb son (בן) of Jephunneh and Joshua son (בן) of Nun." The word בן (bên) is not limited to a biological relationship, but can be used to indicate membership within a particular group as is seen in Joshua 7:23: "They took them out of the tent and brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites" (בני ישראל, literally "sons of Israel"). Interestingly, בן (bên) is also the conventional way to describe someone's age in Hebrew. This is done by literally referring to them as a "son of" a certain number of years. For example, 2 Chronicles 29:1 says: "Hezekiah began to reign when he was twenty-five years old" (בן-עשׂרִים וחמשׁ שׁנה, literally: "a son of twenty-five years").