(בֶּןאּ, son of) is often found as the first element of Scriptural proper names (see those following), in which case the word which follows. it is always to be considered dependent on it, in the relation of our genitive. The word which follows Ben- may either be of itself a proper name, or be an appellative or abstract, the principle of the connection being essentially the same in both cases. Comp. AB-. As to the first class, the Syro-Arabian nations being all particularly addicted to genealogy, and possessing no surnames, nor family names in our sense, they have no means of attaching a definite designation to a person except by adding some accessory specification to his distinctive, or, as we would term it, Christian name. This explains why so many persons, both in the Old and New Testaments, are distinguished by the addition of the names of their father. The same usage is especially frequent among the Arabs; but they have improved its definiteness by adding the name of the person's child, in case he has one. In doing this, they always observe this arrangement-the name of the child, the person's own name, and the name of his father. Thus the designation of the patriarch Isaac would in Arabic run thus: Father of Jacob, Isaac, son of Abraham (Abu Ja'qub, Ishaq, ben Ibrahim). As to the latter class, there is an easy transition from this strict use of son to its employment in a figurative sense, to denote a peculiar dependence of derivation. The principle of such a connection not only explains such proper names as Ben- Chesed (son of mercy), but ap. plies to many striking metaphors in other classes of words, as sons of the bow, a son of seventeen years (the usual mode of denoting age), a hill, the son of oil (Isa 5:2), and many others, in which our translation effaces the Oriental type of the expression. All proper names which begin with Ben belong to one or the other of these classes. Ben-Aminadab, Ben-Gaber, and Ben-Chesed (1Ki 4:10-11), illustrate all the possibilities of combination noticed above. In these names "Ben" would, perhaps, be better not translated, as it is in our version; although the Vulgate has preserved it, as the Sept. also appears to have once done in ver. 8, to judge by the reading there.
These remarks apply also in part to BAR SEE BAR - (q.v.), the Aramaic synonyme of Ben-, as in the name Bar-Abbas.
The following are instances in which our translators have doubted whether the prefix Ben- should not be transcribed, and have therefore placed it in the margin, giving "son" in the text: Ben-Hur, Ben-Dekar, Ben-Hesed, Ben-Abinadab, Ben-Geber (1Ki 4:8-13) [for each of these, see the latter part of the name]. Of the following the reverse is true: Ben-Hanan, Ben-Zoheth (1Ch 4:20; Ben-o (1Ch 24:26-27); Ben-jamite (Psalm 7, title; Jg 2:15; Jg 19:16; 1Sa 9:1,4; 2Sa 20:1; Es 2:5).