Distinguishing Between the Many Men in the Bible Named Simon and Simeon
When I write a blog post, I never know which one will resonate with people. A perennial favorite—which always surprises me—is 9 guys named Simon in the Bible.
When people read the post about 9 guys name Simon, they sometimes contact me to tell me I left out a couple. I panic over the thought that I missed a few, but when I investigate, I discover they’re confusing Simon with Simeon.
Just as there are multiple guys in the Bible named Simon, there are several guys in the Bible named Simeon. They are:
1. Simeon One of Jacob’s Twelve Sons
Simeon’s descendants become the tribe of Simeon. He (along with the tribe that bears his name) appears thirty-four times in the Old Testament and twice in the New Testament.
The Bible records two stories about Simeon. One is that he, along with brother Levi, avenge the rape of their sister Dinah by annihilating the city of Shechem. It’s a shocking account where the punishment far exceeds the crime committed (Genesis 34).
Later, in dramatic fashion, Joseph takes his older brother Simeon from the brothers and ties him up before sending the rest of them on their way (Genesis 42:24-36). Spoiler alert: Joseph later frees Simeon and a happy reunion takes place.
2. Simeon Who Blesses Baby Jesus in the Temple
In the story, which appears only in Luke’s biography of Jesus, we read of a devout and righteous man called Simeon. He lives in expectation that God will soon send his Savior to rescue the people. The Holy Spirit tells Simeon that he will live to see this happen.
One day, prompted by the Holy Spirit, Simeon goes to the temple. He sees the eight-day-old baby Jesus. He scoops up the child and praises God. Simeon blesses Mary and Joseph and prophesies about Jesus (Luke 2:25-35).
3. Simeon, an Ancestor of Jesus
In Luke’s genealogy of Jesus, he includes Simeon (Luke 3:30). We know nothing more about him from the Bible other than he’s an ancestor of Jesus.
[I don’t know how I missed this Simeon in my initial research, but I did. Thank you to Richard Murray for pointing this out.]
4. Simeon, Also Called Niger
This Simeon is one of the leaders in the church in Antioch along with Barnabas, Lucius, Manaen, and Saul. All we know about this Simeon is that Luke labels him as a prophet and a teacher (Acts 13:1).
Though it’s possible that this is the same Simeon who blessed Jesus as an infant, it’s unlikely because we can assume that Simeon is already quite old at that time and these two passages occur forty or more years from each other, suggesting that there are two Simeon’s in the New Testament.
Keeping people straight in the Bible can present a challenge because different people have the same names. In addition, some names are similar, such as Simon and Simeon. But now we’re armed with a list of who they are.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.