The tribes of Israel are descendants of the 12 sons of Jacob. His second-born son, Simeon, was the leader of one of these tribes. Let’s discover more about Simeon’s characteristics, what shaped the status of his tribe, and the lessons we can learn from his life.
A Second Son Is Born To Jacob
Simeon was the second-born son of Jacob and Leah. Simeon was known to be fearless, but he was also full of envy, as we read in Genesis 37: 3-4, where he and his brothers are spiteful towards their brother Joseph, Jacob’s favorite child.
Simeon is derived from the Hebrew word “Shema,” which means “to hear.”
Simeon’s mother, Leah, gave him this name because she believed God heard her suffering. Leah still felt hated by her husband Jacob, who loved his second wife, Rachel, more than he loved her.
Jacob and Leah’s other children were the four brothers of Simeon. They were Reuben, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun.
There was also a sister named Dinah. Simeon and Levi had hot tempers, often leading to violence.
Their anger and violent actions would later reflect on the portion of land that their father Jacob would give them.
Simeon – Quick To Anger
Simeon was not only fearless but also had a quick temper. We read about this in Genesis 34:1-30, where Jacob’s daughter Dinah was raped by a man named Shechem, the son of a Canaanite prince.
Although he defiled her, he became fond of her and asked his father Hamor to get her for his wife. When Hamor asked Jacob for Dinah as Shechem’s wife, the sons of Jacob were angry because of what had been done to their sister.
They devised a way to deceive them and said if their men were circumcised, they would only be allowed to marry Jacob’s daughters.
So, when the men were still recuperating from the circumcision, Simeon and Levi took up their swords and killed all the men to avenge their sister. They then took Dinah out of Shechem’s house, and Jacob’s other sons plundered what was left in the fields. They also took their children and wives.
On learning of their terrible act of anger and violence, Jacob rebuked Simeon and Levi for their actions. He was afraid that the other Canaanites would join together and attack him for his sons’ wicked ways.
But God showed mercy to Simeon even though his killing was cruel and violent, allowing Jacob’s heart to soften towards Simeon.
When the brothers went to Egypt to find food, Joseph recognized them. He imprisons Simeon and sends the brothers back to Canaan to fetch their youngest brother, Benjamin (Genesis 42:18-20).
It is thought that Joseph wanted to separate Levi and Simeon as he did not want them to act in anger, which could cause trouble for Egypt as they had done with Shechem.
When Joseph learns that Simeon is left behind, he admits that the loss of Simeon would be as significant as losing Joseph and Benjamin (Genesis 42:36).
The Blessing For Simeon
Jacob’s prophecy for his sons Simeon and Levi was the same. We read in Genesis 49:5-7, where Jacob says that their swords are violent weapons and that they have killed in anger.
Simeon and Levi are brothers—
their swords are weapons of violence.
6 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.
7 Cursed be their anger, so fierce,
and their fury, so cruel!
I will scatter them in Jacob
and disperse them in Israel.
He curses their cruel fury and wows to scatter them all over Israel. We read that this prophecy came true when Scripture says in Numbers 26:14 that at the end of their wanderings in the desert, the tribe of Simeon was the smallest and weakest of all the tribes.
In Deuteronomy 33, where we read of Moses’s blessing for the tribes, it is noted that Simeon’s tribe was not named. This could be because the tribe was placed within the territory of Judah.
The Inheritance Of The Tribe Of Simeon
The tribe of Simeon was known for producing strong men. Because of Simeon’s sinful and violent act against Shechem and all the men from his tribe, the tribe of Simeon did not receive a large inheritance.
Joseph remembered Simeon and Levi’s shame and wanted to separate them so they could not fight together to fuel their fiery tempers.
So, the tribe of Simeon was given a piece of land within Judah’s territory.
This piece of land was like a hand-me-down land that the tribe of Judah did not need. Simeon’s sons Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, Zohar, and Shaul formed part of his tribe.
In Exodus 6:15, we read that Shaul was the son of a Canaanite woman. It is thought that he was the son of Dinah and Shechem, who, after the death of Shechem, was raised in the home of Simeon and is counted as one of his sons.
Lessons From The Tribe Of Simeon
Here are the lessons we, as Christians, can learn from Simeon and his tribe.
- Anger can become evil – Simeon’s anger against Shechem and his family is cruel. Although the anger can be justified, Simeon took up his weapons not in defense but to use violence and cruelty to harm others.
As Christians, we should never allow our anger to boil over where we have no restraint. This type of anger is unwarranted and leads to devastation.
- Anger can define your life when you are always angry or when that anger becomes out of control. When this happens, lives become unstable, and people with this anger should be avoided. So, it was with Jacob he knew that Simeon and Levi brought out the worst in each other as they both had fiery tempers. So, it was best to separate them.
So, too, should we, as Christians, not associate with people who continue to portray anger traits and can spur others to feel the same way.
- Vengeance belongs to God – as Christians, we should never forget this and not take matters into our own hands (Romans 12:19). Simeon did this when he killed Shechem for the wrong he had done to his sister. Not only did he kill Shechem, but he also cruelly killed all the men from this tribe when they were in a vulnerable state.
This type of mad vengeance shows how anger can consume and take control of a situation with devastating consequences.
The tribe of Simeon is derived from the second-born of Jacob’s sons. Simeon was known to be fearless, and he had a fiery temper. In Scripture, we read of his cruel anger when he kills the man who raped his sister.
But his vengeance is so violent that he also kills all the men from Shechem’s tribe. This evil deed caused Simeon’s tribe to receive no land of their own.
Because of this violent act, Jacob places the tribe of Simeon within Judah’s territory. They are given a piece of land that the tribe of Judah did not need.
Although Simeon committed this terrible sin, God was still merciful and allowed his tribe to be named amongst the 12 tribes of Israel.
Melissa is a passionate minister, speaker and an ongoing learner of the Bible. She has been involved in church and vocational ministry for over 18 years. And is the founder of Think About Such Things. She has the heart to equip the saints by helping them get into the Word of God and fall more in love with Jesus. She also enjoys family, cooking, and reading.
She has spoken in churches in California, Oregon, Texas, and Mexico and has been featured in Guidepost Magazine and All Recipes Magazine. Read More…