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Meaning and etymology of the name Simeon

Simeon Simeon

There are five Simeons mentioned in the Bible, three of which in the New Testament. The first and most famous Simeon is the second son of Jacob and Leah, who exclaimed:

"Because the Lord has heard that I am unloved, He has therefore given me this son also." So she named him Simeon. (Genesis 29:33)

Simeon forfeits his prominency by revenging the rape of his sister Dinah by Shechem the Hivite (Genesis 34).
The only other Old Testament Simeon is mentioned among the men who divorce their foreign wives in the purge of Ezra (Ezra 10:31). The Simons of the New Testament are: the righteous man in Jerusalem who identifies the infant Jesus as the Messiah (Luke 2:25); an ancestor of Jesus (Luke 3:30) and a leader of the church in Antioch (Acts 13:1).
The New Testament name Simon is a Greek form of the Hebrew name Simeon.

Some scholars (BDB Theological Dictionary) insist that the name Simeon was around long before Genesis was written (or the verb treated below was invented), and that therefore the etymology and original meaning of the name is lost. Here at Abarim Publications we find these things tremendously clever, but void of any relevance to the story that unfolds in Genesis.

In Genesis 29:33 the name Simeon is directly linked to the verb shama (shama'), to hear, listen to, obey. This verb is used over a thousand times in the Bible, often in the regular way of hearing something, but also in the sense of to obey someone, understand something or examine something. Derivations are: shama (shema'), sound; shama (shema'), report; shama (shoma'), news, fame; shemua (shemu'a), news, rumor; hashmaut (hashma'ut), communication; mishma (mishma), rumor; mishmaat (mishma'at), subject (obeyer), body guard.

To a Hebrew audience the name Simeon was most likely seen as a personified or localized form (achieved by the waw-nun extension) of the verb shama, and means He Who Hears or Man Of Hearing.

Related names are: Ishmael, Ishmaiah, Mishma, Samuel, Shama, Shammua, Shema, Shemaah, Shemaiah, Shimea, Shimeath, Shimeathites, Shimei, and Simon.



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