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Article Info:
published: 3/31/13
updated: 2/27/14


Who was Simeon?

In the Hebrew Bible or Christian Old Testament, Simeon's families are enumerated (Gen. 46:10; Num. 26:12-14; 1 Chr. 4:24-43). At the census at Sinai Simeon numbered 59,300 (Num. 1:23); it was then the most numerous after Judah and Dan.

At Shittim it had become the smallest, numbering 22,200. The mortality consequent on the idolatry of Peor was a leading cause (Num. 25:9,14). Zimri, slain in the act, was a prince of Simeon (Num. 26:14). Simeon was doomed by Jacob to be "scattered in Israel" (Gen. 49:7); its sins caused its reduction to such small numbers as found adequate territory within Judah (Josh. 19:2-9). Simeon was the "remnant" with Judah and Benjamin, which constituted Rehoboam's forces (1 Kings 12:23).

Still Simeon remained strong enough in Hezekiah's days to smite the men of Ham with an expedition under 13 Simeonite princes, and to occupy their dwellings "at the entrance of (rather, as Keil, `westward from') Gedor to the E. side of the valley" (1 Chr. 4:34-43). The Simeonites "found the Meunim" (not as KJV, 1 Chr. 4:41, "habitations") (see MAON) there besides the Hamites (whether Egyptians, Cushites, or Canaanites). The Meunim were connected with Maan, a city near Petra, E. of wady Musa, nomads.

Five hundred Simeonites undertook a second expedition under four chiefs, sons of Shimei, against the remnant of Amalek that had escaped from Saul and David (1 Sam. 14:48; 15:7; 2 Sam. 8:12) to the mountains of Idumea; they smote them utterly, and dwelt in their place, and were there at the date of the composition of 1 Chronicles, i.e. after the return from Babylon. Simeon is omitted in Moses' blessing, possibly because of the idolatry of Peor.

Simeon in the wilderness marched south of the tabernacle, with Reuben and Gad, sons of Zilpah, maid of Leah, Simeon's mother. The Canaanitess mother of Shaul (Gen. 46:10) and the Horite father of Shaphat the spy from Simeon (Num. 13:5) indicate the laxness of Simeon in marriage connections, from whence sprang his paganish degeneracy. Their villages and 18 or 19 cities lay round the well Beersheba in Judah's extreme south. Simeon stands first of the tribes appointed to bless the people on Mount Gerizim (Deut. 27:12).

Though cities of Simeon were among those to which David sent presents of the Amalekite spoils, and though Ziklag was David's own property, received from Achish king of the Philistines who had wrested it from Simeon (1 Sam. 27:6; 30:26, etc.), yet Simeon and Judah were few in numbers at his installation at Hebron (1 Chr. 12:23-37), and Simeon more than Judah.

Some men of Simeon were apparently settled in the northern kingdom of Israel after the disruption (2 Chr. 15:9; 34:6). Simeon is between Issachar and Benjamin, not beside Judah, in Ezek. 48:25. Simeon is also in Rev. 7:7.

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

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