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Bible Dictionaries

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary

Simeon

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Several people named Simeon feature in the biblical record. Historically, the most important was Simeon the son of Jacob, for he was father of the tribe of Simeon. Two New Testament men named Simeon are also significant.

In the Old Testament

Simeon was the second eldest of Jacob’s twelve sons (Genesis 35:22-23). He and the next son, Levi, were the cause of the ruthless massacre of the men of Shechem, an incident that Jacob deeply regretted (Genesis 34:25; Genesis 34:30). When Jacob blessed his sons before his death, he recalled the violence of Simeon and Levi, and prophesied that their descendants would be scattered in Israel (Genesis 49:5-7).

When Canaan was divided among the twelve tribes, Simeon did not receive an independent tribal area of its own. It received part of the area of Judah (since Judah’s area was too large for it) in the south of Canaan. The result was that Simeon soon lost its separate tribal identity and became part of the more powerful Judah (Joshua 19:1; Joshua 19:9; Judges 1:3; Judges 1:17). Towns belonging to Simeon were counted as belonging to Judah (Joshua 19:1-5; cf. Joshua 15:21-31). Though absorbed by Judah, the Simeonites continued to maintain their own genealogical records (1 Chronicles 4:24; 1 Chronicles 4:33; 1 Chronicles 12:24-25).

In the New Testament

At the time of Jesus’ birth, only a few Jews had a true understanding of the sort of Saviour that the Messiah would be. One of these was an old man named Simeon. When he saw Mary presenting her baby to God in the temple, he praised God that the great Saviour had come (Luke 2:22-32). He saw that as people accepted or rejected Jesus, they would show the true condition of their hearts and so find either salvation or condemnation. He also warned Mary that sorrow lay ahead for her because of what people would do to her son (Luke 2:33-35).

The other Simeon mentioned in the New Testament was a prophet and teacher in the church at Antioch in Syria (Acts 13:1). His nickname ‘Niger’ (meaning ‘black’) suggests that he was dark skinned. Some have thought he might have been the man elsewhere called Simon of Cyrene, a place in North Africa (Mark 15:21). (See also SIMON.)


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Bibliography Information
Fleming, Don. Entry for 'Simeon'. Bridgeway Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/bbd/s/simeon.html. 2004.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, July 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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