Simeon, Shimon, Shim’on שִׁמְעוֹן
What imageries are included in the depiction of Simeon?
The artwork of Simeon includes some of the traditional tribal symbols like the pitcher and dagger, a tower and a gate. One of the customary emblems for Simeon is the city of Shechem. However, in modern day Shechem only fragmented ruins of the old city remain. Instead, the Damascus gate is featured, which is one of the main entrances of the Old City and sports a tower. Coincidentally, the Damascus Gate is called Sha’ar Sh’khem (שַׁעַר
שְׁכֶם) in Hebrew! The tribal color was green and their gemstone was a sapphire; these hues are vaguely incorporated in the grass.
The Meaning of the Name Simeon
Genesis 29:33 states that Leah said: “The Lord has given me this son also, because He has heard that I am not loved.” So she gave him the name Simeon.” His name has been translated to mean “hearing,” “has heard,” “that hears and obeys,” “the Lord has heard (us),” “I have been heard,” and “he who listens to the words of G-d.” Leah thanks G-d in a bitter-sweet way saying, “… because G-d understood (from the Hebrew word shema, which means both to hear and to understand) that I am the hated one he gave me another son as well, and she called his name Simeon.”
The Biblical Blessings for the Tribe
Simeon is not specifically mentioned in Deut. 33 in Moses’ last words to Israel. Jacob mentions him in Gen. 49:5-7 together with Levi by saying: “Simeon and Levi are brothers. They hurt others with their swords.May my soul not have a part in their secrets, nor my shining-greatness be joined to them because in their anger they killed men and for no reason they hurt cattle. Their anger will be punished, for it is bad. Their bad temper will be punished, for it is bad. I will divide them in Jacob and spread them apart in Israel.” It was long before this when Jacob had cut Simeon and Levi off from their inheritance due to their cruelty—mainly destroying the entire village of Shechem! The tribe of Simeon became itinerant schoolteachers and received their portion in the land within the territory of Judah, thus fulfilling Jacob’s words of being scattered and divided.
There are quite a few traditional emblems used for the tribe of Simeon, which include: the city of Shechem usually symbolized by a tower, a gate, a sword, a pitcher and dagger—all references to the warlike characteristics of the tribe and rarely the Ner Tamid (Eternal Light).
The tribe of Simeon lived in the southernmost part of the Promised Land but was mostly scattered throughout Israel.
According to Gen. 34, Simeon and his brother Levi destroyed the entire village of Shechem in retribution for the rape of their sister Dinah. Simeon was only thirteen years old when he fought, and had extraordinary strength. In fact, Simeon was one of the toughest tribes during the wandering in the desert. He was very strong, fearless, and of a very envious character. He was especially spiteful towards Joseph because of the particular love borne to him by Jacob and he intended to kill him! This strength is symbolized by the weapon of violence in their tribal symbol. In Gen 49:5-7, we read that “their swordsare weapons of violence, they have killed men in their anger, hamstrung oxen as they pleased, they are angry, fierce, furious and cruel!”