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Simeon (Hebrew: שׁמעון, Shim'on, "God has heard"), (b. 2247 AM or 1757 BC), was the second son of Jacob and Leah, and the ancestor of the Tribe of Simeon, one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel.

A Display of Anger

Main Article: Dinah

In 2272 AM (1732 BC), his sister Dinah strayed from camp near the city of Shalem, in the region of Shechem. (Genesis 33:18 (KJV)) The local prince (also named Shechem) saw her and took her by force. Afterward, the prince was in love with Dinah and asked his father, King Hamor, to negotiate a marriage between him and Dinah.

Hamor approached Jacob and suggested a treaty involving mutual intermarriage. Jacob's sons said that they would accept this, on condition that all the men of the city circumcise themselves. King Hamor agreed to this.

Three days later, Simeon and Levi carried out their actual plan: they attacked the city by night, when the men of the city were still sore from the circumcisions, and killed the men, including Hamor and Shechem. They also took Dinah out of the prince's house and brought her back to camp. They returned with their brothers to plunder the city, capturing wealth, flocks, herds, women & children, and anything else of value.

Brief Imprisonment

In 2276 AM (on or about 1728 BC), Simeon participated in the plot to sell his brother Joseph into slavery. Twenty years later, he found himself in an Egyptian prison.

In 2296 AM (1708 BC), famine had struck all the Middle East. Jacob, hearing that grain could be had in Egypt, sent all his sons to Egypt to buy grain. (Benjamin did not go on this first trip.) There they met the viceroy of Egypt, who accused them of spying. At first the viceroy confined them all, but later the viceroy kept Simeon only in prison and sent the rest back to Canaan with strict instructions to come again with Benjamin.

Eventually the brothers came again, and Simeon was released. Later, however, all the brothers were arrested, when the viceroy accused them of stealing a silver cup from his house. The cup was indeed found in the possession of Benjamin. Judah then made a heartfelt plea to the viceroy that he take Judah in Benjamin's place.

The viceroy then shocked all the brothers by revealing that he was none other than their lost brother Joseph. Joseph went on to extend his personal invitation, on behalf of the Pharaoh, to Jacob and all his household to move to Egypt.

Entry into Egypt

In 2298 AM (1706 BC), Simeon, together with his father, entered Egypt. He was about 51 years old at the time and had six sons: Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, Zohar, and Shaul. The last son was his son by a Canaanitish wife.

In his deathbed blessing of his sons, Jacob said this of Simeon and Levi both:

Simeon and Levi are brothers—their swords are weapons of violence. 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. Cursed be their anger, so fierce, and their fury, so cruel! I will scatter them in Jacob and disperse them in Israel. Genesis 49:5-7

This is a reference to the Shechem incident and might be one reason why the tribes of Simeon and Levi remained separated both during the wilderness journey and in the Promised Land. Simeon received a tribal territory and an assigned place to camp (the south side of the Tabernacle) and in the marching order (in the middle of the second rank). The Levites camped close to the Tabernacle on three sides and had the special duty to carry the Tabernacle furnishings, coverings, hangings, and structural elements. (Numbers 2-4 ) In the Promised Land, the Levites received no territory but were granted grazing rights in the environs of forty-eight cities.

Entry into Canaan

When Moses was on mount Nebo, about to die, he blessed then of the tribes of Israel. This includes Reuben and Levi, both of whom were cursed by Jacob. This, however, excludes Simeon and Issachar. (It is notable that Issachar was already blessed by Jacob 238 years prior, meaning that Simeon was cursed by Jacob and wasn't blessed by Moses.

Simeon in fiction

Simeon appears in many motion picture and television projects describing the life and career of Joseph. One of these projects describes in detail the rape of Dinah and the revenge that Simeon and Levi took at Shechem.

Simeon is, of course, famous in all of these projects for being the one whom Joseph had briefly imprisoned during the "testing" operation.


See also