[b-hebrew] The Name "Simeon"

Mike Tisdell Mike at netronix.com
Thu Dec 6 12:33:24 EST 2007

Although, I would acknowledge the relationship of shama with Simeon, I can see 
no justification for a grammatical relationship between sana, and Simeon, or 
sana and shama; they share only one root letter in common if you do not make 
a distinction between the sin/shin, and none if you do, and in Hebrew that is 
worlds apart. Likewise, there is no relationship between Simeon and natan; on 
top of the normal arguments for rejecting a relationship here,  the nun in 
natan is a weak letter in this verb and it is hard to imagine anyone equating 
the final nun of Simion with the nun from the verb natan; because of the weak 
nuns in natan, it is often referred to as the verb without its edges i.e. 
both nun's are dropped in the infinitive. 

On Thursday 06 December 2007 07:12:51 JimStinehart at aol.com wrote:
> The name of Jacob’s second son is “Simeon”.  Here is the relevant JPS1917
> translation regarding the name “Simeon”:  “And she [Leah] conceived again,
> and bore a son;  and said:  'Because the LORD [YHWH] hath heard that I am
> hated, He hath therefore given me this son also.'  And she called his name
> Simeon.” Genesis 29: 33
> In my view, there are four key Hebrew words involved here, as follows:
> SHIN/SIN-MEM-ayin:  shama’/“heard”
> SHIN/SIN-NUN-aleph:  sana’/“hated”  [At Genesis 29: 33, the form of this
> word is SHIN/SIN-NUN-vav-aleph-heh.]
> NUN-tav-NUN:  nathan/“given”  [At Genesis 29: 33, the form of this word is
> yod-tav-NUN.]
> SHIN/SIN-MEM-ayin-vav-NUN:  “Simeon”
> There are three key Hebrew true consonants here:  (1) shin/sin, (2) mem,
> and (3) nun, in that order.  I myself see three levels of deliberate puns
> here, with the second level pun being by far the most important.
> 1.  Pun #1:  shama’/“heard”
> Secular scholars apparently see the name “Simeon” as solely being a play on
> the word shama/“heard”.  Each of Robert Alter and the editors of the
> JPS1985 translation say that.  Gesenius sees “Simeon” as meaning “hearing
> with acceptance”.  Gerhard von Rad sees “Simeon” as meaning “God has
> heard”.
> 2.  Pun #2:  shama’/“heard” + sana’/“hate”
> The three true consonants in “Simeon” are shin/sin + mem + nun.  In this
> key pun #2, I see two words as being combined to form the name “Simeon”. 
> Each of the two words starts with shin/sin, and then has only one other
> true consonant.  The first such word, shama’/“heard”, has mem as its other
> true consonant.  Shortly thereafter in the text, the second such word,
> sana’/“hate”, has nun as its other true consonant.  So “Simeon” fittingly
> starts with shin/sin, and then has first mem, and then nun, in that order. 
> (As always, the vowel-type sounds should be ignored completely.  Note that
> the true consonant sounds here match, as with the puns on the name
> “Reuben”.  Note also that for purposes of punning, no distinction is made
> between shin and sin.)
> Shama’ + sana’ = “Simeon”.  SHIN/SIN-MEM-ayin/“heard” + SHIN/SIN-NUN-aleph/
> “hate” = SHIN/SIN-MEM-ayin-vav-NUN/“Simeon”.  Using “S” to represent a
> shin or sin, we have:  S-M/shama’ + S-N/sana’ = S-M-N/“Simeon”.
> Thus “Simeon” means “heard, hated”.  As discussed below, this pun #2 is by
> far the most important pun on the name “Simeon”.  It primarily means that
> Simeon “heard” Joseph’s controversial dreams, and Simeon “hated” Joseph for
> that.  “Heard, hated.”
> 3.  Pun #3:  shama’/“heard” + sana’/“hate” + nathan/“given”
> The last clause in Genesis 29: 33 can be brought into play with just a
> little stretching.  The word nun-tav-nun/“given” features two nuns.  The
> tav (though it is a true consonant) in the middle of nathan cannot appear
> in the name “ Simeon”, because that would obscure the main pun on the word
> “heard”.  But the double nun in nathan suggests that the nun in Simeon is
> in part coming from, and reflects, the word nathan, meaning “given”.
> Now the name “Simeon” can be viewed as encompassing all of what is said at
> Genesis 29: 33:  “(YHWH,) having HEARD [shama’] (that I) am HATED [sana’],
> hath GIVEN [nathan] (me another son)”.  “Heard, hated, given.”
> SHIN/SIN-MEM-ayin/“heard” + SHIN/SIN-NUN-aleph/“hated” +
> NUN-tav-NUN/“given” = “Simeon”/SHIN/SIN-MEM-ayin-vav-NUN.  S-M + S-N + N-N
> = S-M-N/“Simeon”.
> Significance of Pun #2
> The minor meaning of pun #2 is that it foreshadows Simeon’s key role in the
> bloody incident at Shechem in chapter 34 of Genesis, which is one of the
> things that earns Simeon a final curse from his father Jacob.  Simeon,
> having “heard” that his full-sister Dinah had been with young Shechem (the
> son of the leader of the city-state of Shechem), “hated” all the men of
> Shechem for that, and would not allow his sister Dinah to be “given” to a
> man of Shechem.
> But the critically important meaning of pun #2 is its reference to Simeon
> being the ringleader of the near-murder of his young half-brother Joseph in
> chapter 37 of Genesis.  Simeon, having “heard” Joseph tell everyone
> Joseph’s controversial dreams that seemed to foretell that Joseph would
> rule over all his older half-brothers, “hated” Joseph for that, especially
> since Joseph alone had so conspicuously been “given” the coat of many
> colors by their father Jacob.
> Three verses of text at Genesis 37: 4, 5, 8 use the word sana’/“hate” to
> describe the feelings of “hate” that Simeon and Jacob’s other older sons
> have toward their young half-brother Joseph.  And at Genesis 37: 6, Joseph
> aggravates his older half-brothers when he tells them that they must
> “hear”/shama’ him tell them his dream.  Simeon will “hear”/shama’ Joseph
> tell that
> controversial dream, and then Simeon will almost murder young Joseph in
> “hatred”/sana’. In my view, the name “Simeon”/S-M-N deftly incorporates the
> two words shama’/“ heard”/S-M and sana’/“hate”/S-N.
> If one reads first Genesis 29: 33, and then Genesis 37: 4-8, one will see
> this clever Hebrew wordplay, which is truly brilliant.  The words
> shama’/“heard” and sana’/“hate” are explicitly present in both places. 
> These two words are beautifully combined to form the name “Simeon”/S-M-N,
> who “heard”/shama’ /S-M his half-brother Joseph’s dream, and
> “hated”/sana’/S-N Joseph for it.
> Jim Stinehart
> Evanston, Illinois
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