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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible


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SIMEON ( Luke 3:30 , Acts 13:1 ; Acts 15:14 Symeon ). 1 . The second son of Jacob and Leah ( Genesis 29:33 [J [Note: Jahwist.] ]). By R [Note: Redactor.] he, together with Levi, is closely related to Dinah, she being a full sister ( Genesis 29:34 ). From Genesis 30:20 (E [Note: Elohist.] ) we learn that he had five full brothers, but we are not told how many other sisters or half-sisters he had. J [Note: Jahwist.] ( Genesis 37:35 ) speaks of ‘all’ Jacob’s ‘daughters,’ but their names are nowhere recorded (cf. Genesis 46:7 [P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] ]). J [Note: Jahwist.] , who is specially inclined to etymologizing (see RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] of Genesis 3:20 ; Genesis 4:1 ; Genesis 4:25 ; Genesis 5:29 ; Genesis 11:9 ; Genesis 16:11 ; Genesis 16:14 etc.), connects the name, as in the case of Reuben, with Jacob’s ‘hatred’ of Leah: ‘Because Jahweh hath heard ( shâma ‘) that I am hated, etc., and she called his name Shim ‘ôn ’ ( Genesis 29:33 ). The meaning of the name is unknown, but it has been connected by many scholars with the Arabic sim ‘, the hybrid offspring of the hyæna and the female wolf. This word sim‘ appears as a tribal name among the Arabs, and it is well known that numerous tribal names are those of animals; Leah and Rachel probably belong to this class. In such cases the names probably point to the totem worship of the ancestors. If the name appears, as is supposed by some scholars, in the inscriptions of Esarhaddon, it may be of importance in connexion with the history of the tribe, but no light is derived from the form as to its meaning.

In the Blessing of Jacob (Genesis 49:1-33 ) Simeon is coupled with Levi (wh. see) as sharing in the curse of Jacob and in the consequent dispersion of the tribe among the other tribes of Israel. This is an indication that at the time the ‘Blessing’ was composed, the tribe was practically dissolved. P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] ’s census of the tribes ascribes 59,300 fighting men to Simeon at Sinai ( Numbers 1:23 ). At Moab there were only 22,200 ( Numbers 26:14 ) another indication of the future fortune of the tribe. Judges 1:3 ; Judges 1:17 makes Simeon join with Judah, at the latter’s request, in making the first attack upon the Canaanites, over whom they won a decisive victory at Bezek. Judah in return was to aid Simeon in gaining his possession. Together they attacked and defeated the inhabitants of Zephath-hormah. Hormah is connected with Arad ( Numbers 21:1-6 ) about 17 miles to the S.E. of Hebron. Hormah in Joshua 15:30 is assigned to the tribe of Judah, but re-appears in Joshua 19:4 as a city of Simeon. We are not told in Judges of the settlement of Simeon, but it is implied in the Dinah story ( Genesis 34:1-31 ) that both he and Levi secured a temporary foothold about Shechem . On account of their treachery, however, they were dispossessed and well-nigh annihilated by the revenge taken upon them by the Canaanites. Levi was permanently shattered; Simeon, however, managed to recover sufficiently to establish itself on the southern border of Judah. There, however; they came into contact with nomad tribes of Edomites and Arabs a circumstance which doubtless contributed to their failure to rehabilitate themselves and win a permanent abode among the original occupants of the land. They are not mentioned in the Song of Deborah ( Judges 5:1-31 ), but this may be accounted for by their position. Judah also had no part in that important struggle, and is passed over in silence. In historical times nothing is heard of them, and the conclusion is justified that they eventually became merged with the neighbouring tribes, and were later, with them, absorbed by Judah, as Reuben was afterwards by Gad. This conclusion is supported by the fact that the cities which are assigned to Simeon in the list given in Joshua 19:1-9 re-appear elsewhere as cities of Judah (cf. Joshua 15:26-32 ; Joshua 15:42 , 1 Kings 19:3 , Neh 11:26-29 , 1 Samuel 27:6 ; 1 Samuel 30:30 ). In connexion with David’s ventures to win over the Edomites and other tribes to the south, the name of Simeon does not appear, as might have been expected if the tribe had preserved its solidarity. According to 1 Chronicles 4:39 ff., Simeonites advanced against Gedor and Mt. Seir, in the time of Hezekiah apparently, and there secured permanent possessions. Instead of Gedor , the LXX [Note: Septuagint.] reads Gerar , the name of the Philistine city of Abimelech. It must be admitted that our sources are too uncertain and, too indefinite to enable us to speak decisively on almost any point of interest in connexion with this tribe. On the one hand, too much credence is given to statements of late writers, as though they furnished indubitable evidence; on the other hand, far-reaching conclusions are often drawn from fragmentary and isolated expressions, both Biblical and extra-Biblical, which are little warranted. See also Tribes of Israel.

2 . The great-grandfather of Judas Maccabæus ( 1M Malachi 2:1 ). 3 . The ‘righteous and devout’ ( dikaios kai eulabçs ) man who took the infant Jesus in his arms and blessed Him, on the occasion of the presentation in the Temple ( Luke 2:25 ff.). The notion that this Simeon is to be Identified with a Rabbi who was the son of Hillel and the father of Gamaliel i . is very precarious.

James A. Craig.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Simeon'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. 1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, November 11th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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