1. The second of Jacob’s 12 sons; so named because, as his mother Leah said, “Jehovah has listened, in that I was hated and so he gave me also this one.”—Ge 29:32, 33; 35:23-26; 48:5; Ex 1:1-4; 1Ch 2:1, 2.
When his father Jacob was encamped near Shechem, Simeon, together with his next younger brother Levi, displayed a vengeful anger that was unreasonably harsh and cruel. Arbitrarily, without their father’s knowledge or consent, they set about avenging the honor of their younger sister Dinah by slaughtering the Shechemites, bringing ostracism upon Jacob’s whole family.—Ge 34:1-31.
Simeon was later involved in wrongdoing when he and his brothers planned to kill Joseph. (Ge 37:12-28, 36) Whether Simeon, as second oldest, was or was not the ringleader in this plot on Joseph’s life is not stated. Years later, when Joseph as food administrator of Egypt was testing out his brothers, Simeon was selected by Joseph to be bound and imprisoned until the other brothers brought Benjamin down to Egypt.—Ge 42:14-24, 34-36; 43:15, 23.
Shortly before Jacob’s death, when blessing his sons, Jacob recalled with disapproval the violence of Simeon and Levi in connection with the Shechemites many years earlier, saying: “Instruments of violence are their slaughter weapons. Into their intimate group do not come, O my soul. With their congregation do not become united, O my disposition, because in their anger they killed men, and in their arbitrariness they hamstrung bulls. Cursed be their anger, because it is cruel, and their fury, because it acts harshly. Let me parcel them out in Jacob, but let me scatter them in Israel.” (Ge 49:5-7) Jacob thus removed any hope Simeon may have entertained of receiving the birthright forfeited by his older brother Reuben. Simeon had six sons, one from a Canaanite woman. As prophesied, Simeon’s tribal allotment was not united with Levi’s, but these two were ‘scattered’; even internally, Simeon’s portion was divided up as enclave cities in Judah’s territory.—Ge 46:10; Ex 6:15; 1Ch 4:24; Jos 19:1.
2. The tribe of Israel stemming from the families of Simeon’s six sons: Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, Zohar, and Shaul. (Ge 46:10; Ex 6:15) During Israel’s wilderness journey, Simeon encamped with Reuben and Gad on the S of the tabernacle, the three-tribe division being headed by Reuben. On the march, this same tribal arrangement was maintained, with Shelumiel serving as Simeon’s chieftain, both of the camp and of the army.—Nu 1:4, 6; 2:10-15; 10:18-20.
Reduction in Tribal Population. At the time of the first census, taken a year after the Exodus from Egypt, the tribe of Simeon numbered 59,300 able-bodied men 20 years old and upward who were fit for military service. (Nu 1:1-3, 22, 23) However, about 39 years later, the second census revealed that the tribe had suffered great losses, there being only 22,200 in the same category. This amounted to a decrease of more than 62 percent, far greater than that experienced by any other tribe.—Nu 26:1, 2, 12-14.
Moses did not mention Simeon by name in his farewell blessing of Israel. This is not to say the tribe was not blessed, for it was included at the end in the general blessing. (De 33:6-24, 29) Simeon was named first among the tribes assigned to stand on Mount Gerizim in connection with the blessings to be pronounced.—De 27:11, 12.
Simeon’s reduced size was no doubt considered when it came to assigning individual territories in the Promised Land; the tribe was not given a self-contained, unbroken portion but, rather, cities entirely enclosed within Judah’s territory. In this way Jacob’s deathbed prophecy uttered more than 200 years earlier was fulfilled. (Nu 34:16-20; Jos 19:1-9; compare Ge 49:5-7.) Simeon shared with Judah in wresting this territory out of the hands of the Canaanites. (Jg 1:1-3, 17) Enclave cities were also set aside in Simeon’s inheritance for the tribe of Levi.—Jos 21:4, 9, 10; 1Ch 6:64, 65.
Mention in Later Bible History. The Simeonites were mentioned from time to time in the later history of Israel—in the time of David (1Ch 4:24-31; 12:23, 25; 27:16), in the days of Asa (2Ch 15:8, 9), and in Josiah’s time (2Ch 34:1-3, 6, 7). This latter reference to Josiah’s reforms shows that, though geographically in Judah’s territory, Simeon had politically and religiously cast in its lot with the northern kingdom. It appears that in the days of Hezekiah 500 Simeonites struck down a remnant of the Amalekites and took up dwelling in their place.—1Ch 4:41-43.
In the prophetic books of Ezekiel and Revelation, Simeon’s name occurs along with others of the tribes of Israel. The strip of territory assigned to Simeon in Ezekiel’s envisioned layout of the Promised Land lay between those of Benjamin and Issachar, S of “the holy contribution.” But the gate assigned to Simeon on the S of the holy city was with those named after Issachar and Zebulun. (Eze 48:21-25, 28, 33) In the vision of the 144,000 sealed ones in Revelation chapter 7, Simeon is the seventh tribe listed.—Re 7:7.
3. The righteous, reverent old man who entered the temple on the very day that Joseph and Mary brought in the child Jesus. It had been divinely revealed to Simeon that before his death he would see the Christ. He therefore took the baby up in his arms, blessed Jehovah, and with holy spirit upon him, declared to the child’s mother: “This one is laid for the fall and the rising again of many in Israel.” Simeon also prophesied that Mary would be greatly grieved, as if run through with a sword, over the agonizing death of this son of hers.—Lu 2:22, 25-35.