The second lot came out for Simeon, for the tribe of the children of Simeon according to their families. And their inheritance was within the inheritance of the children of Judah…Then the heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites came near to Eleazar the priest, to Joshua the son of Nun, and to the heads of the fathers’ houses of the tribes of the children of Israel. And they spoke to them at Shiloh in the land of Canaan, saying, “The Lord commanded through Moses to give us cities to dwell in, with their common-lands for our livestock.” Joshua 19:1 ~and~ Joshua 21:1-2
A Wonderful Illustration
Joshua had led the nation of Israel across the Jordan River and into the Promised Land. For believers today, the Promised Land is a depiction of the Spirit-filled life in Jesus Christ in addition to the historical event that it was. The battles had been fought and the victory contained, and all that remained were the mopping-up activities; skirmishes that continue to this very day. It was now time to divvy up the inheritance according to the guidelines the Lord established through Jacob back in Genesis.
Simeon and Levi were two of the twelve tribes of Israel and above we read about their portions. Simeon’s share of the inheritance was, as the passage cites, was within that of Judah’s and in time, Simeon was surrounded and swallowed up by the tribe of Judah. While there are most certainly descendants of the tribe of Simeon around today, for the most part they have been absorbed into Judah and we do not hear a lot about them from this point forward—a very sad indictment on that tribe.
The Levites on the other hand made out very well. While it is absolutely true they received no inheritance, they ultimately were given forty-eight cities in which to perpetually reside—unlike Simeon they were blessed on a very large scale. So what was the difference between these two tribes? We first need to go back to Genesis.
“Simeon and Levi are brothers; Instruments of cruelty are in their dwelling place. Let not my soul enter their council; Let not my honor be united to their assembly; For in their anger they slew a man, And in their self-will they hamstrung an ox. Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce; And their wrath, for it is cruel! I will divide them in Jacob And scatter them in Israel.” Genesis 49:5-7
Simeon and Levi were in effect cursed because of their behavior in the Dinah incident. We would recall that their sister (Dinah) was raped by a guy named Shechem (who lived in Shechem). In retaliation, they duped the Shechemites into being circumcised and when they were recovering they went through that city and killed them all. This enraged Jacob and later on, as he handed out the blessing to his sons, he opts to lay a curse on Simeon and Levi.
The Levites are Redeemed
Now when Moses saw that the people were unrestrained (for Aaron had not restrained them, to their shame among their enemies), then Moses stood in the entrance of the camp, and said, “Whoever is on the Lord’s side–come to me.” And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together to him. And he said to them, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘Let every man put his sword on his side, and go in and out from entrance to entrance throughout the camp, and let every man kill his brother, every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.’ ” So the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And about three thousand men of the people fell that day. Exodus 32:25-28
The sons of Levi answered Moses’ call-to-arms; all the tribes were asked and only Levi responded. For this reason Levi was given a much larger and more generous portion of forty-eight cities. They still received no inheritance, but they were rewarded in their repentance—they took the correct stand when the godly call was put forth. Simeon could have responded similarly, but history records they remained silent. As a result Simeon’s portion was absorbed by Judah.
The Application for Us
As far as Simeon and Levi go, we’re in the same boat. Their disobedient act is merely a representation of the types of things we did before coming to Christ. What they did afterwards is where we get an application we can use: Levi got back on the horse and Simeon did not. Simeon lived in a curse and Levi lived in their blessings. From a practical stand point, both were saved, but one wasted away in someone else’s brilliance and the other rose above the hand they dealt themselves. Yes, there were still consequences for Levi, but the Lord in His grace and mercy made away to bless them in a different way.
As a Christian, we have the same choices. If we want, in our saved-state, we can elect to do nothing. Oh, we’re still going to Heaven, but what a waste of a Christian we are on earth. Great is the reward in Heaven for those who willingly and cheerfully serve while stationed on earth.