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published: 6/10/13

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ten commandments
The 10 Commandments
Circa 2nd century B.C.

Who was Shimei?

The best-known Bible character named Shimei is the Benjamite, of the family of Saul (2 Samuel 16:5-12 ; 2 Samuel 19:16-20 ; 1 Kings 2:8, 1 Kings 2:9 , 1 Kings 2:36-46 ), who met David at Bahurim as he was fleeing from Absalom, and in bitter and cowardly fashion cursed and attacked the hard-pressed king.

Apparently David's flight to the Jordan led through a narrow ravine, on one side of which, or on the ridge above, stood Shimei in safety as he cast stones at David and his men, cursing as he threw (2 Samuel 16:5 , 2 Samuel 16:6 ).

His hatred of David who had displaced his royal kinsman Saul had smouldered long in his mean heart; and now the flame bursts out, as the aged and apparently helpless king flees before his own son. Shimei seizes the long-coveted opportunity to pour out the acid hate of his heart.

But when David's faithful companions would cross the ravine to make quick work of Shimei, the noble king forbade them with these remarkable words: "Behold, my son, who came forth from my bowels, seeketh my life: how much more may this Benjamite now do it? let him alone, and let him curse; for Yahweh hath bidden him. It may be that Yahweh ... will requite me good for his cursing" (2 Samuel 16:11 , 2 Samuel 16:12 ). After Absalom's overthrow, as the king was returning victorious and vindicated, Shimei met him at the Jordan with most abject confession and with vows of allegiance (2 Samuel 19:16-23 ).

The king spared his life; but shortly before his death charged his son Solomon to see that due punishment should come to Shimei for his sins: "Thou shalt bring his hoar head down to Sheol with blood" (1 Kings 2:9 ). When he came to the throne Solomon summoned Shimei and bade him build a house in Jerusalem, to which he should come and from which he must not go out on pain of death (1 Kings 2:36-38 ).

Feeling secure after some years, Shimei left his home in Jerusalem to recapture some escaped slaves (1 Kings 2:39-41 ), and in consequence he was promptly dispatched by that gruesome avenger of blood, the royal executioner, "Benaiah the son of Jehoiada," who "fell upon him," as he had upon Adonijah and Joab, "so that he died" (1 Kings 2:46 ).



IBSE, "Absalom" (in the public domain) with minor edits.