[b-hebrew] Genesis 49: 6: The Joint Curse of Simeon and Levi

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Wed Dec 12 15:43:56 EST 2007

Kenneth Greifer:
1.  You wrote:  “Maybe Genesis 49:6 means Simon and Levi killed one man in 
anger, even though they killed a lot of people when they saved their sister.”
If so, that would not be a hanging offense.  Simeon and Levi would not get a 
horrible ultimate curse for avenging the rape of their sister Dinah by killing 
the perpetrator.
2.  You wrote:  “They only killed one man with anger because he raped their 
sister; everyone else was killed probably to keep them from defending their 
leader and from getting revenge later.”
If so, then the other killings were more or less in self-defense, which once 
again is not a hanging offense.  And you’re quickly straying from the nature 
of the curse at Genesis 49: 6, which focuses precisely on the anger of Simeon 
and Levi.
3.  You wrote:  “Also, they might have injured an ox when they were killing 
the people. The story doesn't have to mention every detail.”
It takes considerable effort to hamstring an ox.  That would not have 
happened “when they were killing the people”.
Genesis 34: 27-29 explicitly tells us that other sons of Jacob dealt with the 
animals of Shechem, not Simeon or Levi.  And that all the Shechem livestock 
was led away.  No oxen were hamstrung at Shechem.
(I’ll do a separate post on the “oxen” issue at Genesis 49: 6.)
4.  Why defend the traditional view of the joint curse of Simeon and Levi at 
Genesis 49: 6, when the traditional view cannot stand the light of day?  There 
is no mention of “men”, only a “man”.  Simeon and Levi are not cursed for 
killing multiple “men” at Shechem, but rather are cursed for trying, in anger, 
to kill one “man”:  Joseph, their own brother.
How could the Hebrews, living in the violent world of the Middle East, tell a 
story in which the #2 and #3 sons of Jacob/“Israel” are horribly cursed for 
making a disproportionate response to the rape of a young Hebrew female?  (If 
it makes a difference, Dinah was only age 9½ regular years at the time.)  Why 
would the Hebrews tell a story like that?
Answer:  They wouldn’t.  Rather, the Hebrews are telling a story about how 
they will not countenance older sons in uncontrolled anger wantonly trying to 
murder an innocent younger half-brother.  (If it matters, young Joseph was only 
age 9½ regular years at the time, being age 19 “years”, in 6-month “years”, 
at this point, after starting out at the beginning of chapter 37 of Genesis 
being stated age 17 “years”, when he tattles on his older half-brothers by his 
father’s minor wives.  And Ishmael as well was age 9½ regular years when he, 
like Dinah and Joseph, was involuntarily separated from his father’s family.  
All of the ages make perfect sense in the Patriarchal narratives.  So does 
everything else, for that matter.)
5.  Simeon and Levi are rightly cursed at Genesis 49: 6 for their dastardly 
act of trying to murder their young half-brother Joseph, who was guilty of 
nothing more than being so obviously his father Jacob’s favorite son.  That was a 
horrible crime, and Simeon and Levi deserve their horrible joint curse.  But 
Genesis 49: 6 is not referencing Shechem.  As I noted in my prior post to 
Yaakov (J) Stein, both YHWH and Jacob in effect end up approving the bold actions 
of Simeon and Levi at Shechem.  Genesis 35: 5;  48: 22
In my view, Genesis 49: 6 is referencing the Joseph incident, not the Shechem 
incident.  The overt puns on the name “Simeon” provide us with one key clue 
as to that, as I have noted in several posts.  And that analysis makes perfect 
sense on all levels.  It’s just a matter of playing close attention to what 
the Hebrew text actually says.
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

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