Categories: Jacob, Joseph, Men in the Old Testament
- Simeon is the second son of Jacob and his first wife, Leah.
- The name Simeon means, “God has heard.” It refers to Leah’s conviction that God heard that “she was unloved.” So essentially, it means that God has heard about her suffering.
- Simeon was also the progenitor of the Tribe of Simeon.
- There are two main incidents that involve Simeon.
- The first occurs in Genesis 34, the story of Dinah’s involvement with Shechem.
- After “taking” her, Shechem is smitten and wants to make her his wife; he asks his father to make the arrangements.
- Shechem’s father, Hamor, speaks with Jacob.
- During this time Simeon is with Jacob’s other sons in the field tending the livestock.
- When the sons hear what has happened, they are very offended and angry.
- Hamor appeals to them saying that Shechem loves Dinah and wants to marry her.
- They offer land, an expensive bride price, and whatever else Jacob’s family will accept.
- Jacob’s sons answer that Dinah cannot be given to an uncircumcised man.
- Hamor and Shechem agree immediately to be circumcised, along with all the males in the city.
- Three days later, Simeon and Levi go into the city and kill all the males.
- They also take Dinah back home.
- The other sons loot the town and take all the wives and little ones.
- Jacob says to Simeon, “You have brought ruin on me by making me a foul odor among the inhabitants of the world…”
- Jacob is worried that the neighbors will retaliate.
- Simeon defends his actions as being necessary.
- The second incident occurs with Joseph in Egypt.
- During the famine, the sons go to Egypt to get grain.
- They stand before Joseph but do not recognize him.
- Joseph accuses them of being spies.
- They vehemently deny this and say that they are honest men. They add that one younger brother remains home with their father.
- Joseph insists they bring that brother to Egypt.
- As collateral, Joseph declares that one of them must stay back until the others return with the youngest brother.
- He chooses to keep Simeon and ties him up in front of the remaining brothers.
- Joseph gives no reason for his choice, but one theory is that he wants to separate Simeon from Levi so the two can’t work together against Egypt.
- Another option is that Simeon plays a larger role in the sale of Joseph to the Midianites (though there is nothing to substantiate this).
- According to the Book of Jasher, Simeon had wanted to kill Joseph and was upset to find out that Judah had sold him.
- The Book of Jasher also states that Simeon fights against Joseph in Egypt and has to be subdued by a group of soldiers led by Manasseh, Joseph’s son.
- The Testament of Simeon, however, states Simeon feels he deserves to be punished and that he stays voluntarily.
- The other brothers go home with grain – and all their money.
- When the grain runs out, Jacob asks his sons to return to Egypt.
- They refuse to go unless Benjamin goes with them.
- Jacob finally relents, and they return to Egypt.
- Joseph prepares a special meal for them at his house.
- When they arrive, he brings Simeon out to them.
- Simeon and his sons go to Egypt with Jacob.
- Simeon’s sons are: Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jakin, Zohar, and Shaul (the son of a Canaanite woman).
- In Jacob’s final blessing to his sons on his deathbed, in Genesis 49, he finally condemns the actions of Simeon, saying: “their swords are weapons of violence. Let me not enter their council, let me not join their assembly, for they have killed men in their anger and hamstrung oxen as they pleased. Cursed by their anger, so fierce, and their fury, so cruel! I will scatter them in Jacob and disperse them in Israel” (5-7).
- Because of this deed, Simeon is to be scattered, and his descendants will have no land of their own.
- At the beginning of the exodus, the Simeonites number about 59,300.
- By the time they are ready to enter the Promised Land, their number has fallen to 22,200.
- When the land is apportioned in the Book of Joshua, they are only given a few cities.
- The tribe of Simeon only survives a few generations and is ultimately absorbed by the tribe of Judah, thereby effectively erasing any trace of Simeon.
- The Simeonites are mentioned in I Chronicles, but for all practical purposes, they are scattered and never own their own parcel of land.
- One legend states Simeon died at the age of 120 – a few years before Reuben. Another has him taking over as elder after Reuben dies.