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Who was Simeon?



    
    

Clarify Share Report Asked 5 days ago Mini Thelma Lesch

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Mini Tim Maas Retired Quality Assurance Specialist with the U.S. Army
To my knowledge, there are a total of four men named Simeon mentioned in the Bible (two in the Old Testament in the books of Genesis and Ezra, and two in the New Testament in the books of Luke and Acts). The two most prominent were the ones from Genesis and Luke.

The Simeon from Genesis was one of the twelve sons of Jacob, and thus the founding ancestor of the tribe of Israel that bore his name. He was born to Jacob's wife Leah. His birth is recorded in Genesis 29:33. As indicated in Genesis 34, after his full sister Dinah was raped by Shechem, the son of Hamor the Hivite (whom the Bible describes as "the prince of the land" in which Jacob was living), Simeon and his brother Levi took revenge against Shechem (even though he had wanted to marry Dinah) by pretending that they would allow Shechem to marry Dinah, but requiring all the male subjects of Hamor to first undergo circumcision. While all the men were still recovering from their circumcision (and thus were not fit to fight), Simeon and Levi killed them and plundered their city, taking all their livestock and possessions, and enslaving the women and children. Jacob rebuked Simeon and Levi for this action, because it had made him hated by the remaining inhabitants of the region (the Canaanites and the Perizzites). (God subsequently ordered Jacob in Genesis 35:1 to re-locate to Bethel.) Also, as a result of Simeon and Levi's action, Jacob later again rebuked them (instead of blessing them) in his final words to his sons (Genesis 49:5-7) for their impulsive anger and violence, and said that, as a result, their tribes would be divided and scattered. (This prophecy was fulfilled with regard to the tribe of Simeon after Israel had made the exodus from Egypt and occupied the Promised Land, when the small size of the tribe of Simeon resulted in its land allotment being taken from the allotment of the larger tribe of Judah, rather than being a separate allotment of its own.) 

The Simeon from Luke was mentioned in Luke 2:25-35 as being a righteous and devout man living in Jerusalem to whom the Holy Spirit had indicated that he would not die until he had personally seen the promised Messiah. When Mary and Joseph brought the infant Jesus to the temple to make the purification offering required by the Law after the birth of a son (Leviticus 12:2-8), Simeon was divinely inspired to be present at the same time. He took the infant Jesus in his arms and told God that, since he had seen the Messiah, he could now die in peace. (His words in that regard -- known as the Nunc Dimittis (meaning "Now you [can] dismiss" in Latin) -- were subsequently incorporated in Christian post-Communion and evening liturgies.) Simeon also spoke prophetically to Mary at that same time about the intense grief that she would undergo in the future because of the way in which Jesus would be opposed by the Jewish religious authorities (the scribes and Pharisees), which would cause the malignant thoughts of their hearts to be revealed, but also said that Jesus would cause many others (that is, those who would believe in Him) to rise. In addiiton, Simeon prophesied that, besides being Israel's Messiah, Jesus would be a light for revelation to the Gentiles, as well.

(Some translations of Acts 15:14 and 2 Peter 1:1 record that Simon Peter was also referred to as Simeon (or "Symeon", which reflects the spelling of his name in the Greek alphabet), but he was not commonly known by that name.)

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