Tribe of Simeon

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According to the Hebrew Bible, the Tribe of Simeon (Hebrew: שִׁמְעוֹן, Modern Shim'on Tiberian Šimʻôn ; "Hearkening; listening", English pronunciation: /ˈsɪmiən/) was one of the Tribes of Israel.

Following the completion of the conquest of Canaan by the Israelite tribes after about 1200 BCE[1], Joshua allocated the land among the twelve tribes. At its height, the territory occupied by the Tribe of Simeon was in the southwest of Canaan, bordered on the east and south by the tribe of Judah; the boundaries with the tribe of Judah are vague, and it seems that Simeon may have been an enclave within the west of the territory of the tribe of Judah. (Joshua 19:1-9) Simeon was one of the less significant tribes in the Kingdom of Judah.

Contents

Origin

According to the Torah, the tribe consisted of descendants of Simeon the second son of Jacob, and of Leah, from whom it took its name; however some Biblical scholars view this as postdiction, an eponymous metaphor providing an aetiology of the connectedness of the tribe to others in the Israelite confederation.[2] With Leah as a matriarch, Biblical scholars believe the tribe to have been regarded by the text's authors to have been part of the original Israelite confederation. However, the tribe is not mentioned in the ancient Song of Deborah, and some scholars think that Simeon was not originally regarded as a distinct tribe;[3] according to Israel Finkelstein, the south of Canaan, in which Simeon was situated, was simply an insignificant rural backwater at the time the poem was written.[4]

Character

The impression gained from the Books of Chronicles is that the tribe wasn't entirely fixed in location; at one point it is mentioned that some members of the tribe migrated southwards to Gedor, so as to find suitable pasture for their sheep.[5] In the following verse, which may or may not be related,[6] it is mentioned that during the reign of Hezekiah, part of the tribe came to the land of some Meunim, and slaughtered them, taking the land in their place.[7] Further verses state that about 500 men from the tribe migrated to Mount Seir, slaughtering the Amalekites who had previously settled there.[8]

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