Genesis 49:5

5 1"Simeon and Levi are brothers; weapons 2of violence are their swords.

Genesis 49:5 Meaning and Commentary

Genesis 49:5

Simeon and Levi are brothers
Not because they were so in a natural sense, being brethren both by father and mother's side, for there were others so besides them; but because they were of like tempers, dispositions, and manners F6, bold, wrathful, cruel, revengeful, and deceitful, and joined together in their evil counsels and evil actions, and so are joined together in the evils predicted of them: instruments of cruelty are in their habitations:
or vessels, utensils, household goods gotten by violence and rapine, and through the cruel usage of the Shechemites; these were in their dwellings, their houses were full of such mammon of unrighteousness, or spoil; or, as others, "instruments of cruelty" are "their swords" F7; what they should only have used in their own defence, with these they shed the blood of the Shechemites very barbarously, ( Genesis 34:25 ) . Some think the word here used is the Greek word for a sword; and the Jews say F8 that Jacob cursed the swords of Simeon and Levi in the Greek tongue; and others say it is Persic, being used by Xenophon for Persian swords; but neither of them seems probable: rather this word was originally Hebrew, and so passed from thence into other languages; but perhaps the sense of it, which Aben Ezra gives, may be most agreeable, if the first sense is not admitted, that it signifies covenants, compacts, agreements F9, such as these men made with the Shechemites, even nuptial contracts; for the root of the word, in the Chaldee language, signifies to espouse F11; and these they abused to cruelty, bloodshed, and slaughter, in a most deceitful manner: in the Ethiopic language, the word signifies counsels; so De Dieu takes it here.


F6 "--------par nobile fratrum Nequitia et nugis pravorum et amore gemellum." Horat. Sermon. l. 2. Satyr. 3.
F7 (Mhytrkm) "Machaerae eorum", Montanus, Tigurine version, Schmidt; and so R. Sol. Urbin Ohel Moed, fol. 31. 2.
F8 Pirke Eliezer, c. 38.
F9 So Castell. Lexic. col. 2058. Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.
F11 (rkm) Chald. & Syr. "despondit", "desponsavit", Schindler. Lex. col. 998.

Genesis 49:5 In-Context

3 "Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might, and the firstfruits of my strength, preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power.
4 Unstable as water, you shall not have preeminence, because you went up to your father's bed; then you defiled it--he went up to my couch!
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.
7 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.

Cross References 2

  • 1. Genesis 29:33, 34
  • 2. Genesis 34:25, 26
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