by Brad Scott
Simeon and Levi are "joined together" in the prophecy of the 12 tribes as listed in Bere’shiyt (Genesis) 49:5. Simeon's name first appears in Bere’shiyt 29:33. He is the second child of Ya‘aqov (Jacob) and Leah, a result of Rachel, whom Ya‘aqov loved, being barren and unable to produce offspring. As it is with most Hebrew names and places, the meaning of his name is embedded in the text.
Bere’shiyt 29:33And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Because YHVH hath heard that I was hated, he hath therefore given me this son also: and she called his name Simeon.
The name Simeon is born from the word shama' (שמע). This word means to hear or obey. Simeon disobeyed God by tricking the Canaanites into circumcising themselves to marry his sister, and then slaying all the males while they were weak from their circumcision. Ya'aqov learned of the plot and thus the prophecy of Simeon and Levi in Bere’shiyt 49. When the Israelites were told not to mix with the Moabites, many disobeyed but a Simeonite is the only tribe mentioned that did not listen (Bemidebar (Numbers) 25:14).
The Greek word, simon, is a transliteration and contraction of this Hebrew name. It is interesting to note that Peter's name was changed from the Hebrew word meaning to hear and obey to the Greek word petros, the word taken for the rock. It is the rock that most of the twelve tribes in the wilderness did not listen to or obey (1 Corinthians 10:4-8). The association of Peter's given name and the name that Messiah gave him is also clearly seen in Matthew:
Mattityahu (Matthew) 7:24-27Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
Shalom Alecheim! ◊