5 “Simeon and Levi are brothers; weapons of violence are their swords. 6 Let my soul come not into their council; O my glory, be not joined to their company. For in their anger they killed men, and in their willfulness they hamstrung oxen. 7Cursed 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 (ESV)
After blessing his eldest son Reuben, Jacob then blessed the next two eldest sons: Simeon and Levi. However, whereas Jacob balanced blessings with judgment regarding Reuben. He had no such balance with the next two sons. Jacob’s oracle toward Simeon and Levi was solely one of condemnation.
Jacob identified his sons with the phrase, “weapons of violence are their swords” In other words, Simeon and Levi were violent men whose plans and possessions resulted in destruction. The references to violence and killing was a remembrance of the sign and seal of circumcision to exact revenge upon the Shechemites for violating their sister Dinah (Gen. 34).
Second, Jacob personally stated that he did not want to be a part of their schemes or their purposes. He did not want his wealth, honor and reputation to be in any way associated or united with them.
Third, Jacob reasoned that the Simeon’s and Levi’s violent nature was due to their anger and wrath. The word anger pertains to their facial expressions and even their intense breathing. The word wrath refers to the pleasure they experienced when they attacked. Jacob also said their anger was fierce or intense while their wrath was severe and stubborn.
Jacob heralded a curse upon these two sons. As they brought harm and injury to others, their father prayed that the LORD would bring injury and harm upon them. Jacob promised them that he would divide and disperse their progeny in the land of Israel.
On author explains, “As expected, Jacob’s words would come true in the history of the nation of Israel. Simeon is the only tribe Moses does not bless in Deuteronomy 33, and he is given only a select number of cities in Judah’s territory (Josh. 19:1–9). The tribe of Judah eventually absorbs the Simeonites, and they disappear from history. Levi is also scattered throughout Israel, but his tribe fares better in the history of redemption. Moses, a son of Levi (Ex. 2:1–10), later mediates the old covenant. Moreover, God would choose the Levites to be His priests (Num. 3:5–13), restoring honor to these displaced sons of Jacob.”
John Calvin writes that God’s “incredible goodness unexpectedly shone forth, when that which was the punishment of Levi became changed into the reward of the priesthood.”
Throughout redemptive history, God extends His grace to even the worse of sinners (I Tim. 1:12-15). It is through His sovereign grace alone, by God given faith alone, and through the person and work of Jesus Christ alone that God delivers any sinner from the penalty, power and eventual presence of the consequences of their sin.
May each of us today thank the LORD for His amazing grace toward sinners deserving of His wrath (Rom. 1:18; Eph. 2:1-3). Have a blessed day in the LORD.
Soli deo Gloria!