1 Chronicles 4:34–43 (ESV)

34 Meshobab, Jamlech, Joshah the son of Amaziah,

The last part of the Simeon section deals with the problem of Simeonite overpopulation. At the end of the list of clan leaders it says, These mentioned by name were princes in their clans, and their fathers’ houses increased greatly (1 Chronicles 4:38). As a result, tribal expansion had to occur to find pasture for their flocks, to the west (1 Chronicles 4:39–41) and to the south-east (1 Chronicles 4:42–43). To the west, the people of Simeon expanded to seek pasture and space to the outskirts of Gedor. The place name is given as Gerar in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament), which seems likely (the r and d look similar in Hebrew). Gerar was the well-known town that lay between Gaza and Beersheba. There they found “rich, good pasture, and the land was very broad, quiet, and peaceful" (1 Chronicles 4:40). This description of the land uses typical postexilic language (Nehemiah 9:25; Nehemiah 11:26–29), serving as a reminder of the original conquest of the land in the era of Joshua (Exodus 3:8). The land the Simeonites captured truly was a land flowing with milk and honey.

1 Chronicles 4:41 states that the Simeonites destroyed the tents of the Hamites and the Meunites who were found there and marked them for destruction to this day (probably related to Hezekiah’s exploits in 2 Kings 18:5–8).1 This too is reminiscent of the conquest of Canaan (Deuteronomy 7:2; Joshua 2:10, Joshua 6:21). The Hebrew word for this total destruction is cherem, which literally means to put under the ban. In other words, there are certain things upon which God places a ban. They are banned for use by people and are thus to be destroyed or devoted to him. It was the Lord who commanded his people to do this, and this is what unbelievers at times use as an argument for why they do not believe in God. But it must be remembered that God is a holy God who demands exclusive worship, and he will never tolerate idolatry, which was what the Canaanites were guilty of. The danger also existed that his people would be drawn into this pagan religion. Everything associated with idolatrous worship, including the defeated population, had to be destroyed, but the Israelites would gain nothing for themselves (see Deuteronomy 7:2; Deuteronomy 20:17).

When they arrived in the rich pasture lands of Gerar, the Simeonites encountered the Hamites and Meunites. The Hamites (1 Chronicles 4:40–41) were presumably the Philistines or Canaanites of 1 Chronicles 1:11–16. The Meunites are variously associated with the Amalekites and Sidonians (Judges 10:12) and the Philistines (2 Chronicles 26:7) in the Old Testament. Depending on the resource consulted, the Meunites are identified with Maon, a town in the hill country of Judah (Joshua 15:55), possibly in the southern Negeb.2

It would seem that it was largely the Philistines that they defeated in the settlement in the land, and it may have been part of a larger military campaign that took place under Hezekiah (see 2 Kings 18:8). They are apparently known by the Chronicler through a registry compiled at the time of Hezekiah (1 Chronicles 4:41).

The registration itself is referred to in two unique phrases: they were mentioned by name (1 Chronicles 4:38) and registered by name (1 Chronicles 4:41). The first refers to the original oral designation of the name. Their having been registered by name may probably refer to some kind of census,3 the traces of which may be found in the genealogies.4

The final expedition connected with Simeon (1 Chronicles 4:42–43) is the invasion of five hundred Simeonites into Edomite territory (Mount Seir) where they attacked a group of Amalekites and eradicated them from the land. These are described as the remnant of the Amalekites who had escaped 1 Chronicles 4:43). The Amalekites were the first enemies Israel encountered after the exodus (Exodus 17:8). So vicious was their attack that the Lord said they must suffer his vengeance in time to come (Exodus 17:14). Saul failed to accomplish this fully (1 Samuel 15:17–23), but Simeon, ironically, seem to have accomplished it (1 Chronicles 4:43).5

The military tone of this part of Simeon’s history echoes the prophecy uttered by Jacob over Simeon as one who would be given to anger and violence (Genesis 4:5–7). Theologically, says Andrew Hill, this third section of the genealogy of Simeon focuses on God’s faithfulness concerning the destiny of Simeon as uttered in prophecy by his father Jacob, the faithfulness of the Simeonites in taking possession of the land allotted to them by Joshua (Joshua 19:2–9), the faithfulness of God in helping the Simeonites overcome their enemies, and the faithfulness of Shimei’s descendants in trusting the Lord for the expansion of their tribal lands.6 Here again the writer highlights how the faithful God blesses his covenant people who cling to Him in faith.

The last verses of this section (1 Chronicles 4:42–43) are particularly telling. They reveal that the Chronicler’s interest in Simeon is related to his own times. He mentioned that some Simeonites had invaded Seir, killed the escaping Amalekites, and continued living there to this day, that is, to the Chronicler’s own times (1 Chronicles 4:43). The Chronicler closes his account of Simeon with the reference to his own day so as to draw a connection between Simeon's past and his contemporary audience. Simeon’s family had not been lost and the postexilic community could identify some Simeonites who lived in the nearby area of Seir. As a result, his readers needed to include these Simeonites and their relatives among God’s people.7

In conclusion to the section on Simeon, it would be useful once again to survey his history and how it would help in arriving at a better understanding of the Chronicler’s message. He was the second son of Leah, the second oldest after Reuben, who had disqualified himself from the right of the firstborn for defiling his father’s bed by lying with his concubine (Genesis 35:22; Genesis 49:2). God’s sovereign choice of Judah removed Simeon from consideration of chief heir. Furthermore, Simeon had brought upon himself the wrath of his father for having taken revenge on the men of Shechem who had violated his sister Dinah (Genesis 34:30; Genesis 49:5). A foreshadowing of Simeon’s further decline lies in his remaining unmentioned by Moses in that prophet’s blessing of the tribes (Deuteronomy 33:1–29), though he re-emerges in the allocation of land in our passage and as one of the tribes from among whom will be 12,000 representatives who are sealed, as revealed in Revelation 7:7.8