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(A. V. Benaiah; Kenrick, Banaiah; Heb. bnyhw, also bnyh, "Jehovah hath built up"-Gesenius; Gr. Banaías, Banaía; Lat. Banaias, Banaia).
The name of several men mentioned in the Bible. The orthography varies, but the component elements of the various forms are the same.
The most famous of all who bore the name was "the son of Joiada, the priest"-"the most valiant among the thirty"-"captain of the third company for the third month" (I Par., xxvii, 5, 6). The meaning of the text is not clear; he seems to have been a priest and one of the principal officers at court. "Joiada, the son of Banaias" (I Par., xxvii, 34) may be a false reading, in which the names have been interchanged. Banaias is credited with three notable exploits that required strength and courage: (a) He killed two lions, or perhaps brave warriors of Moab ("two lion-like champions of Moab"-Gesenius, s. v. aryal; in Gr. and Lat. the Heb. word is merely transliterated, leaving the meaning doubtful; (b) he descended into a pit and there killed a lion; (c) he also vanquished and put to death an Egyptian hero of extraordinary size and great strength (II K., xxiii, 20, 21=I Par., xi, 22, 23). He commanded the "Cerethi and Phelethi", or "the king's guards"-D. V. footnote (II K., viii, 18; I Par., xviii, 17), or "Cerethites" and "Phelethites" (II K., xx, 23). The D. V. describes him as "the first among the thirty, but yet to the first three he attained not, and David made him of his council" (I Par., xi, 25). In II K., xxiii, 23, the Heb. text gives the same history, but the Gr. and the Lat. versions cause confusion by notable variations. The A. V. reads: "Behold, he was honourable among the thirty, but attained not to the first three: and David set him over his guard" (I Chron., xi, 25). This is from the Heb., but "guard" may be questioned (Gesenius renders the word by "a hearing, audience"). "The first among the thirty" (D. V.) is far from being exact (Jos., Ant., vii, 12).
Banaias supported Solomon's title to the throne against the ambitious intrigues of Adonias (III K., i, 32-38, 44), whom, by Solomon's command, he afterwards put to death (III K., ii, 46). For some Rabbinic literature, see Jew. Encycl s. v.
John J. Tierney