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Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was one of David's Mighty Men and one of his top military officials, who later became commander of the army under King Solomon. Unlike others who had been involved in the political affairs of Jerusalem during David's time, Benaiah remained loyal to David throughout his entire reign.


Benaiah was the son of Jehoiada, who was a priest, and came from Kabzeel in the far south near the border with Edom.

The name Benaiah means "the Lord has built."

One of the Mighty Men[]

Benaiah was part of David's Mighty Men, a group of elite warriors and bodyguards of David who came to David while he was on the run from King Saul. The Mighty Men were renowned for their bravery and feats on the battlefield. Benaiah was one of the most renowned of the Mighty Men. He was described as "a valiant man of Kabzeel, a doer of great deeds."[1] Some of Benaiah's most noteworthy feats included striking down two of Moab's mightiest warriors, and killing a lion on a snowy day.[2] He also once faced an Egyptian giant in battle while armed with only a staff; he managed to defeat the Egyptian by snatching the spear out of the Egyptian's hand and killing him with it.[3]

Reign of David[]

During the reign of King David, Benaiah was placed in command of David's personal bodyguard. Benaiah was in command of the Cherethites and the Pelethites,[4] non-Israelite units potentially related to the Phillistines.

During his reign, David reorganized the Israelite military, and established a reserve force of 12 divisions of 24,00 men each, with each division being on duty for one month of the year.[5] Many of David's Mighty Men were assigned to command a division. Benaiah was placed in command of the third division, for the third month.[6] However, his son Ammizabad was also in charge of this division, potentially due to Benaiah's other duties.

In the last years of David's reign Adonijah, another son of David, tried to take the throne and prevent Solomon from becoming king. Many of David's top officials, including Joab, the commander of the army, supported Adonijah's claim to the throne, but Benaiah remained loyal to David and his chosen successor Solomon. With significant support, Adonijah arranged a feast with many of his brothers and David's officials where he would be proclaimed king, but neither Benaiah, Solomon, nor Nathan the Prophet was invited. When David learned of Adonijah's actions, he called Benaiah, Nathan, and Zadok the priest and gave them instructions to make Solomon king. They would gather David's loyal servants and lead Solomon to Gihon riding on David's own mule, where Zadok and Nathan would anoint Solomon king. When Benaiah heard the king's instructions, he declared, "Amen! May the LORD, the God of my lord the king, say so. As the LORD has been with my lord the king, even so may he be with Solomon, and make his throne greater than the throne of my lord king David."[7] The plan was successful, and when the guests of Adonijah's feasts heard that Solomon had been made king, they all fled and Adonijah's attempt to cease power collapsed.[8]

Reign of Solomon[]

After David died and Solomon became king, Benaiah played a crucial role in protecting Solomon's position in the early years of his reign, and administering justice. While Adonijah had temporarily acknowledged Solomon's kingship, he soon attempted another scheme to gain power by gaining kingly legitimacy through a proposed marriage to Abishag the Shunammite, who had attended David in his later years.[9] In response, Solomon sent Benaiah to kill Adonijah.[10]

While Joab had been commander of the army during the reign of David, David had instructed Solomon to punish Joab for his peacetime murders of Abner the son of Ner, and Amasa the son of Jether, two commanders of the army of Israel.[11] Joab had also supported Adonijah against Solomon in his claim to the throne. So, Solomon sent Benaiah to execute Joab.[12] Benaiah also executed Shimei the son of Gera, who had cursed and attacked David while he fled during Absalom's rebellion.[13] Solomon had given Shimei a deal where Shimei could keep his life as long as he remained in Jerusalem, but eventually Shimei broke his oath and left the city.[14]

After the death of Joab, Solomon made Benaiah commander of the army of Israel.[15]


  1. 2 Sam. 23:20 (Link)
  2. 2 Sam. 23:20 (Link)
  3. 1 Chron. 11:23 (Link)
  4. 2 Sam. 20:23 (Link)
  5. 1 Chron. 27:1 (Link)
  6. 1 Chron. 27:5 (Link)
  7. 1 Kings 1:36-37 (Link)
  8. 1 Kings 1:49 (Link)
  9. 1 Kings 2:22 (Link)
  10. 1 Kings 2:25 (Link)
  11. 1 Kings 2:5 (Link)
  12. 1 Kings 2:34 (Link)
  13. 2 Sam. 16:5 (Link)
  14. 1 Kings 2:42 (Link)
  15. 1 Kings 4:4 (Link)