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1 Chronicles 4:24-40 The tribe of Simeon

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, October 17, 2023

24 The sons of Simeon: Nemuel, Jamin, Jarib, Zerah and Shaul.

This list is the same as the one in Numbers 26:12-13, except that Jarib here is “Jachin” there, and “Zerah” here is “Zohar” in the same list in Genesis 46:10. In Exodus 6:15, the names are “Jemuel, Ohad, Jachin, Zohar, and Shaul.” Either Jamin has another name altogether (Ohad), or there is a name missing. Professor Delitzsch (a 19th century commentator on Chronicles) thought that the list should have had six names, not five. Whether six or five sons, these were “the founders of the clans of Simeon” (Exodus 6:15). Only one, Shaul, are covered here in Chronicles.

25 Shallum was Shaul’s son, Mibsam his son and Mishma his son.  26 The descendants of Mishma: Hammuel his son, Zaccur his son and Shimei his son.  27 Shimei had sixteen sons and six daughters, but his brothers did not have many children; so their whole family did not become as numerous as the people of Judah.

The entire line of Simeon is given according to the line of Shaul, the youngest of Simeon’s sons, and Shaul’s great-grandson Shimei. From here, the account of the line pauses while the regions of Simeon in Israel are described.

Shimei’s large family would not have surprised readers from a century ago, and even though two or three children is becoming commonplace in families, there are still large clans (my wife was one of eight children)

28 They lived in Beersheba, Moladah, Hazar Shual, 29 Bilhah, Ezem, Tolad, 30 Bethuel, Hormah, Ziklag, 31 Beth Marcaboth, Hazar Susim, Beth Biri and Shaaraim. These were their towns until the reign of David.  32 Their surrounding villages were Etam, Ain, Rimmon, Token and Ashan—five towns—33 and all the villages around these towns as far as Baal. These were their settlements. And they kept a genealogical record.

In the parallel list in Joshua 19:1-8, the names are quite similar with just a few differences. The plural Hazar Susim here (“Enclosure of the horses”) was only the singular Hazar Susah (“Enclosure of the mare”) in Joshua 19:5. The “five towns” of verse 32 were only “four towns” in Joshua 19:7, but whether Etam here replaced Ether in Joshua’s time, or else Ether vanished and the Simeonites gained Etam and Token, we cannot say for certain. Some of the locations are good to know something about for future Bible reading:

Beersheba is just about the center of the territory fo Simeon, and the famous well once owned by Abraham (Genesis 21:25), was redug by Isaac’s servants (Genesis 26:33), and was used as a place of worship by Jacob (Genesis 46:1). It was frequently used as a general way of saying “the southern limit of Israel” in the phrase “from Dan to Beersheba” (1 Samuel 3:20; 1 Kings 4:25) or sayings like it (Amos 8:14). From ancient times there was a village near the well, as Jerome said: “a large unwalled place, but with a garrison.”

Hormah (formerly Zephath, Judges 1:17) was an important location in ancient times. It was about five miles southeast of Beersheba in the valley of Salt, on the south bank of the gulch or rain-fed stream known as the Brook Besor (1 Samuel 30:9,21). It was to Hormah that the Israelites were chased when they made their failed attempt to enter the promised land without the Lord’s help (Numbers 14:45). In crusader times or earlier it became a sort of outpost of Christianity; the ruins of three Christian churches can be found there built of arches in the Roman style for strength, and fresco paintings could still be made out there two hundred years ago.

Ziklag was given to David while he was still a captain in Saul’s army but hiding from Saul with King Achish of Gath. David lived there as prince for sixteen months with his wives and mighty men (2 Samuel 27:5). We will learn later in this book that seven military leaders from Manasseh deserted Saul and joined David at Ziklag (1 Chronicles 12:17). Each of them was an eleph or commander of a thousand men (a general). The location of Ziklag “is one of the most difficult to determine of all the southern cities.” It was clearly within the limits, perhaps the eastern boundary, of ancient Philistia, not quite in in the Shephelah or hilly lowlands between Judah and what today we call the Gaza Strip, but in the good grasslands further southwest. Maps locate it near Gerar, ten or so miles northwest of Beersheba. Professor Tristram thought that the ruins of El Abdeh were a good candidate for the site of the elusive Ziklag.

Beth Marcaboth and Hazar Susim, the “place of chariots” and “the horse pen” “were evidently places of passage (that is, stopping points) on the great caravan road to Egypt.” Beth Marcaboth may have been the most south-westerly of all the dwelling of Simeon (and therefore of all Israel). A point now called Minyay may have been close by, fifteen miles southwest of Gaza and near (or identical with) the later encampment of Raphia (3 Maccabees 1:1).

The final sentence of verse 33 is an excellent example of the interesting Hebrew stem known as the hithpael. This stem places a reflexive or reciprocal idea into a verb: they kept a genealogy on their own, for themselves. The verb stem can also have the idea of going “back and forth” (as it does in Job 1:7, “roaming the earth, and walking back and forth in it”). A genealogy goes back and forth, up and down, and all through a family, connecting the people by nation, tribe, clan, family, and household.

34 Meshobab, Jamlech, Joshah son of Amaziah,  35 Joel, Jehu son of Joshibiah, the son of Seraiah, the son of Asiel,  36 also Elioenai, Jaakobah, Jeshohaiah, Asaiah, Adiel, Jesimiel, Benaiah,  37 and Ziza son of Shiphi, the son of Allon, the son of Jedaiah, the son of Shimri, the son of Shemaiah.  38 These men listed by name were leaders of their clans. Their families increased greatly. 39 They went to the entrance of Gedor to the east of the valley in search of pasture for their flocks.  40 They found good, fertile pasture, and the land was spacious, peaceful and quiet. Some Hamites had lived there formerly.

Here the names may not interest the reader so much as the account of Simeonite shepherds pushing north, north of Hebron, as far as “the entrance of Gedor” for pastureland. Gedor (modern Khirbat Jedur) is actually close to Tekoa in the vicinity of Bethlehem, some thirty miles north and a little east of Beersheba. Fortunately, they found that the land they used was “peaceful and quiet,” and no arguments or nothing serious happened in this very literal occasion for Simeon to receive “an inheritance within Judah’s inheritance” (Joshua 19:9).

The man Simeon was sinful. His father Jacob said about him and his brother Levi, “Their daggers are weapons of violence. My soul, do not enter their council. My glory, do not join in their assembly” (Genesis 49:5-6). To this he added about these sons, “I will scatter them in Israel” (49:7). But we see that what was a curse to the father was a blessing to the sons, because the people of Simeon prospered within the territory of Judah, and they were preserved. The name Simeon or its Greek equivalent, Simon, became a popular New Testament name, appearing as the name of two of the apostles. When we think of the sins of the fathers, our thoughts may run to Moses’ words at the end of the First Commandment which Luther used as the conclusion to his Catechism’s list of the Commandments, focusing our attention on God’s grace covering us, on account of Christ removing the punishment for our sins:

What does God say about all these commandments?

He says, “I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

What does this mean?

God threatens to punish all who transgress these commandments. Therefore we should fear his anger and not disobey what he commands. But he promises grace and every blessing to all who keep these commandments. Therefore we should love and trust in him and gladly obey what he commands.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith
About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please visit the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church website.


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