Simeon and Levi, the second and third sons of Jacob, worked in tandem to destroy a covenant, but they personify different seasons. Although they are mentioned together in Jacob’s blessing, the older sibling, Simeon, and the details surrounding his life represent the season that comes just before the one that Levi symbolizes.
Genesis 49:5-7 KJV
5 Simeon and Levi are brethren; instruments of cruelty are in their habitations. 6 O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united: for in their anger they slew a man, and in their selfwill they digged down a wall. 7 Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel: I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.
As Genesis 49:5-7 records, both Simeon and Levi were murderous, cruel, proud and violent, but there is a distinction that exists between the two. As we will discover, Simeon is a depiction of the wrath, anger, and aggressive nature of sinful flesh while Levi displays those same traits but operating through religious hypocrisy and deceit. This is subtly reflected in their lives, the activities of their tribes and their overall fulfillment of Jacob’s blessing.
Getting to Know Simeon
We will soon realize just how well we know Simeon and, therefore, the season of men he is indicative of. He is a strong-willed, outspoken individual who wears his heart on his sleeve. He is an unfiltered reflection of his emotions, both good and bad. Whatever he is passionate and convinced about, he fights for it even to the death. If he were a participant in team sports, he’s the guy you’d love to play with but hate to play against because of his unyielding, undying persistence towards victory. If he were your friend, he’d share his possessions and give you his last, but you would never want to betray his trust. You would have forever lost an irreplaceable friend and made a mortal enemy.
He’s not usually one to be fearful of opposition, so he has no problems making his goals and intentions known. He’s a doer much more than a thinker, and anything he boasts about he’s also willing to back it up. Deceit isn’t his forte and misdirection is not his method of operation; he would rather be straightforward and direct. Simeon shows you who he is, and let’s you deal with it. You can love him or hate him, but you would rather have his love than his hate. He is the epitome of Proverbs 27:19.
As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man.
The Birth of Simeon
How can we know Simeon so well? Let’s begin with his birth. Like Reuben, Simeon’s personality stems from the heart and condition of his mother, Leah. Even after giving birth to Reuben, Leah continued to be afflicted by her lonely condition, so God caused her to give birth to her second child. She named him, Simeon, “Because the LORD hath heard that [she] was hated.”
33 And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Because the Lord hath heard I was hated, he hath therefore given me this son also: and she called his name Simeon.
The word “hated” spoken by Leah is not meant to imply that Jacob despised her. After all, he remained married to her when he could have left her behind. In fact, Jacob later instructed his sons to bury him next to Leah instead of Rachel after his death [Genesis 49:29-31]. The word “hated” here is, instead, an expression used to denote the feelings of the abandonment and separation Leah continued to feel as a result of being “unchosen” relative to her younger sister, Rachel. Notice, hate is the same word used by God to describe Esau’s people in Romans.
As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
In both cases Esau and Leah, who both happened to be the older siblings, were not hated in the cruel sense of the word. They simply weren’t the first or ideal choice to receive the desired covenant or blessing.
As with Reuben, Leah’s feelings remain a representative expression of humanity’s heart cry as sin kept us separated from God. The children born to Leah while in this feeling of loneliness also bore her insecurities. They expressed it in the ways they behaved, and this becomes evident in the aggressive nature of Simeon and the state of men living in the time period that correlates with him. As a product of his mother’s separation anxiety, Simeon often behaved like a child craving attention with no other ideas for getting it other than to misbehave. Similarly, the season that Simeon symbolizes arrived during humanity’s separation from God, and during this time, mankind often behaved like a child needing recognition with no other ideas for obtaining it other than to sin.
It is also important to consider that Leah’s feelings, and therefore Simeon’s nature, were largely caused by her own father, Laban, who tricked Jacob into marrying her first, even though she was unwanted. This stands as a reminder that the sin nature existing in man is primarily due to the deceitful ways of Satan. Sin is both the effect and cause of people feeling unloved and disconnected from God, even though He still loves us. So, Leah’s continued emotional state is a reflection of the generations who continued to feel loneliness from the separation of sin, yet God remains faithful to His covenant connection. The following scripture in the book of Jeremiah is a vow and plea of His faithful commitment.
14Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion:
In this scripture, “married” means “committed to” and “Lord over”, and here, the Lord expresses His commitment to deliver a backslidden people to Zion. This verse is a vow from the Father to remain compassionate towards those who are affected by sin and make every effort to redeem them back into His care. Although the sinner was never the intended bride of Jesus, and Leah was never the intended bride of Jacob, God still loved them both. Leah’s heart’s cry is the cry of unrighteous souls who long for the satisfaction of perfect love. In response, God answered Leah with seed—a son—and answered mankind with the seed of the only begotten Son.
Hope In the Time of Simeon
Leah viewed Simeon as an act of sympathetic compassion from God who heard her lonely cry. Simeon’s name means “to be heard, to hear or to listen” in reference to God’s attention to her emotional disposition. So, within the chronological continuation of Jacob’s son’s blessings, the time period of people who bore Simeon’s characteristics followed the season of humanity’s regression which was defined and outlined by Reuben. The season of Simeon concludes the gloomy outlook of Reuben’s season, and includes the promise to make Abraham a great nation through the spiritual seed of the Messiah.
15And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. 16And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her.
16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
But God proves His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
In the first season of humanity, characterized by Reuben’s actions, mankind exchanged an ideal covenant for a soul tie with a deceiver, and the resulting nature of men was overcome by sin. The “season of Simeon” followed, distinguished by the uncompromising persistence of the flesh and prideful confidence in the self-will. Just as the conception of Simeon did not cure Leah’s feelings of loneliness, the promise of a savior, conceived through Abraham, didn’t instantly sanctify the world or Israel who lived in knowledge of them. They only created an opportunity for flesh to exert its own way and act in enmity towards God.
So, the promises made by God seemed to awaken the sin nature even more, as men attempted survival without their Creator. Things only turned worse, exposing just how much the world needed a Redeemer. The seed of sin planted by Satan into the nature of men grew more arrogant at the proposition of becoming a great nation, and that strong-willed spirit of Simeon was convinced that his carnal toughness could produce and protect God’s investment. Simeon’s heart was working on sin’s side, and he was willing to fight to the death. His trust was in his own ability, and he saw little value in God’s assistance. This is also the way of men in this season, particularly the Hebrews.
The Pervasive Sin Nature of Simeon
Even after miraculous acts and specific instructions from the Lord himself, Israel continued to insist in their own way, worshipping idols and rejecting God’s will for their lives. The bitterness, pride and self-will of men of the time, as mentioned with Simeon and his curse, made their hearts unreceptive to God’s provisions and reliant upon their self-accredited strength. From their perspective, God’s ways fell short of their expectations, even though He was the holder of the destiny they were pursuing. This was all because their assumptions were based on their carnal pleasures instead of His spiritual promise. The manna wasn’t good enough, God wasn’t visual enough and they became ungrateful for their new liberties. Wandering around in a desert wasn’t producing Abraham’s promises fast enough. From the early Hebrew people to the Israelites who were delivered from Egypt, the many manifestations of God’s love and protection didn’t convince them of His power or change their lustful hearts.
Proverbs 1:24 “
Because I called and you refused, I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention;
Isaiah 65:2 KJV
I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts;
This contentious and impenetrable nature is personified by Simeon, a strong-willed individual who is a direct reflection of his prideful heart. Additionally, it describes the majority of people living after Abraham whose destiny had been made visible but whose haughtiness persisted. The flesh enticed and pulled causing the entire being to be victimized by its insatiable appetite for lust. During this time, the vanity of men only saw the carnal benefits in all things, and they were driven by them. Simeon emphatically teaches us of the irreconcilable and unrelenting ways of all flesh. It has always been at war with God, because it’s nature is irredeemably contrary to His.
Romans 8:7 ESV
7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Understanding Our Flesh & the Sin Nature
When God speaks spiritually, the flesh can only perceive and respond naturally, because it cannot understand spiritual things. Its tendency is to selfishly imagine the most profitable and tangible outcome possible and formulate the quickest route to it. This obviously leaves no place for the longsuffering and patience required for greater, spiritual blessings. Therefore, without the guidance of the Holy Spirit, every plan of man is contaminated by his own lusts, and anything we desire to do without the Lord is inherently self-seeking. Obeying fleshly desires leads to carnal methods, dead works, impatience, jealousy and impulsive actions even if the end result is believed to be good.
The works of the flesh listed in Galatians 5 are telltale tactics of an individual working by his own carnal means, and the world largely operates within this paradigm. As the saying goes, “It’s a dog eat dog world”, and lying, vengeance, sexual sin, drunkenness, murder and jealousy among others are considered fair game by people who live according to the flesh. In reality, these are all the ungodly tools utilized to deal with adversity or gain a competitive advantage in the absence of grace. Flesh impatiently seeks its own way by any means necessary, and the workings of the flesh, listed in Galatians, are signs that one remains controlled by it.
16This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 18But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. 19Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
25If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.*
When we receive Christ, we must recognize that the true essence of our being is not our flesh, but our spirit. Our flesh wants to callously and boisterously suppress the spirit man which is made in the image of God. But our Creator’s objective is to assist us in taming this sin-infected, carnal portion of our being so that our inner man can overcome the flesh through a confession of belief unto salvation. As long as our flesh remains in control, the spirit is prevented from seeing or speaking. Although it may sound crazy, we must view ourselves as a conflict of two natures if we hope to be freed from the evil nature. If we remain attached to the sin within us, we will never realize the possibility of being liberated from it. Paul understood the nature of flesh and poetically spoke about it in Romans.
*Romans 7:18-25 18For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.c For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
21So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful natured a slave to the law of sin.*
Paul recognized that there was nothing good in his flesh, but he also recognized that he could overcome it through the help of the Holy Spirit. As long as we bear our flesh with us, the sin nature will continue in its attempts to overthrow Godly wisdom and obedience. So, we must we make continued efforts to crucify it regularly. If we don’t, we are subject to view every word of God from selfish perspectives and pursue validation according to our own will and way.
So, when spiritual promises were given to Abraham, the Israelites couldn’t see beyond their physical expectations. When the Lord promised innumerable descendants, they only interpreted that literal Israel would become a great nation. They never suspected that they were part of a grander spiritual posterity unto the Lord. Israel inferred prophecy to be limited to their physical nation. As a result, they felt it was both possible and proper to carnally secure their future by any means necessary, even if it called for murder. This is ultimately why Simeon along with his brother Levi resorted to the slaughtering of Shechem’s men.
In their carnal minds, this was what they felt was necessary to protect their traditions and honor their sister, but they were severely limited by a fleshly perspective. Had they understood that the spiritual promise to Abraham included Jews as well as Gentiles, they may have welcomed the proposed covenant to join the two nations, and ultimately that same covenant years later within Jesus. Contrarily, their lack of spiritual vision caused them to sabotage their long term rewards in favor of the short-sighted advantages. They were as “weak-eyed” as their mother, Leah [Genesis 29:17]. Because men of the season and nature of Simeon were so driven by flesh, their actions and subsequent curse curtailed the privileges that were just within their reach.
Thankfully, our God is one of answers, and he has promised to bring us to Zion, the spiritual mountain from where He rules and we live in glory with Him. In the long term, Jesus would guarantee an eternal resolution for overcoming the flesh.
26A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
In the short term, another measure would be taken in an attempt to bring flesh into captivity and promote willing submission. God already had a plan to expose and weaken the unyielding nature of men who rejected His love and carelessly regarded His gift of liberty. Mankind had committed various fleshly works in continuous abuse of their freedom and it was time to make them more appreciative of it. The best way to cause individuals to appreciate liberty is to deprive them of it, and that is just what our Heavenly Father did. After escaping their physical bonds in Egypt and abusing their liberty, God bound them in His prison of legalities designed to arrest their flesh. He bound them in the law of Moses, the law of sin and death, and administered it through the tribe of Levi.
13For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
Summary of Simeon
Simeon’s Name Meaning
Simeon’s Name Meaning: Simeon: “to be heard, to hear or to listen”
What Season Does Simeon Symbolize?
The season of flesh’s reign and the strong-willed sin nature. It also includes the Lord’s promise, to Abraham, to deliver a savior to who would satisfy our internal void.
What Do We Learn From Simeon?
When our heavenly Father makes us a promise, it is wise to faithfully wait on His manifestation instead of assuming we can deliver it through our works. In our excitement we can anticipate the way God will execute His own word, but our expectations tend to involve more carnality that spirituality. His ways are always higher than our own, so the future we forecast will always fall far short of His. Even in our most valiant efforts, we can never please God in the flesh, so it best to leave the work up to Him. Whatever God has promised us can only be obtained by our humble obedience and cooperation to the instructions He provides. The more confident we become in our own selves, the more we distance ourselves from God. But if we rely on Him, we become partakers of His perfect protection, provision and love.