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shim'-e-i (shim`i, possibly "hear me (El)" or "(Jah)"; Semeei, Semei): A name of frequent occurrence throughout the Old Testament records, sometimes varying slightly in form in English Versions of the Bible. The King James Version has "Shimi" in Ex 6:17; "Shimhi" in 1 Ch 8:21; "Shimeah" in 2 Sam 21:21. the Revised Version (British and American) has "Shimeites" in Zec 12:13, where the King James Version has "Shimei," and Nu 3:21 for the King James Version "Shimites." English Versions of the Bible has "Shema" in 1 Ch 8:13,21 margin for the "Shimei" of 8:21. In all others of the many occurrences in the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American) the form is "Shimei."
(1) A family name among the Levites before and after the exile, at least five of whom bore it: (a) Son of Gershon and grandson of Levi (Ex 6:17; Nu 3:18; 1 Ch 6:17; 23:7,10). The text of 1 Chronicles 6 and 23 is corrupt, making difficult the tracing of the various genealogies and the identification of the several Shimeis. Evidently that of 23:9 is a scribe's error for one of the four sons of Ladan or Libni, whose names are given in the preceding verse. (b) An ancestor of Asaph the musician (1 Ch 6:42), possibly the same as (a) above, Jahath the son of South (compare 1 Ch 23:10) being by a copyist's error transposed so as to read as if he were the father of South (c) A descendant of the Merarite branch of the Levites (1 Ch 6:29). (d) One of the 288 trained singers in the service of the sanctuary under Asaph (1 Ch 25:17). (e) One of the Levites who helped to cleanse the Temple in Hezekiah's reformation (2 Ch 29:14). He was a descendant of Heman the musician. Hezekiah afterward appointed him with Conaniah to have chief oversight of "the oblations and the tithes and the dedicated things" which were brought into the chambers of Yahweh's house prepared for them (2 Ch 31:11,12). (f) A Levite who under Ezra put away his foreign wife (Ezr 10:23), "Semeis" in 1 Esdras 9:23.
(2) The best-known Bible character of this name is the Benjamite, of the family of Saul (2 Sam 16:5-12; 19:16-20; 1 Ki 2:8,9,36-46), who met David at Bahurim as he was fleeing from Absalom, and in bitter and cowardly fashion cursed and attacked the hard-pressed king. Apparently David's flight to the Jordan led through a narrow ravine, on one side of which, or on the ridge above, stood Shimei in safety as he cast stones at David and his men, cursing as he threw (2 Sam 16:5,6). His hatred of David who had displaced his royal kinsman Saul had smouldered long in his mean heart; and now the flame bursts out, as the aged and apparently helpless king flees before his own son. Shimei seizes the long-coveted opportunity to pour out the acid hate of his heart. But when David's faithful companions would cross the ravine to make quick work of Shimei, the noble king forbade them with these remarkable words: "Behold, my son, who came forth from my bowels, seeketh my life: how much more may this Benjamite now do it? let him alone, and let him curse; for Yahweh hath bidden him. It may be that Yahweh .... will requite me good for his cursing" (2 Sam 16:11,12). After Absalom's overthrow, as the king was returning victorious and vindicated, Shimei met him at the Jordan with most abject confession and with vows of allegiance (2 Sam 19:16-23).
The king spared his life; but shortly before his death charged his son Solomon to see that due punishment should come to Shimei for his sins: "Thou shalt bring his hoar head down to Sheol with blood" (1 Ki 2:9). When he came to the throne Solomon summoned Shimei and bade him build a house in Jerusalem, to which he should come and from which he must not go out on pain of death (1 Ki 2:36-38). Feeling secure after some years, Shimei left his home in Jerusalem to recapture some escaped slaves (1 Ki 2:39-41), and in consequence he was promptly dispatched by that gruesome avenger of blood, the royal executioner, "Benaiah the son of Jehoiada," who "fell upon him," as he had upon Adonijah and Joab, "so that he died" (1 Ki 2:46).
(3) Another Benjamite, mentioned with Rei as an officer in the king's bodyguard, who was faithful to David in the rebellion of Adonijah (1 Ki 1:8). Josephus reads Rei as a common noun, describing Shimei as "the friend of David." He is to be identified with the son of Elah (1 Ki 4:18), whom Solomon, probably because of his fidelity, named as one of the 12 chief commissary officers appointed over all Israel, "who provided victuals for the king and his household."
(4) A man of some prominence in the tribe of Benjamin (1 Ch 8:21), whose home was in Aijalon, where he was a "head of fathers' houses" (1 Ch 8:13); but his descendants lived in Jerusalem (1 Ch 8:28). In the King James Version he is called "Shimhi"; in 1 Ch 8:13 he is called "Shema."
(5) Another Benjamite, an ancestor of Mordecai (Est 2:5), "Semeias" in Additions to Esther 11:2.
(6) A brother of David (2 Sam 21:21, the King James Version "Shimeah"); in 1 Sam 16:9 he is called "Shammah"; compare "Shimeah," "Shimea."
(7) A man of Judah, called "the Ramathite," who was "over the vineyards" in David's reign (1 Ch 27:27).
(8) A Simeonite living in the time of David (1 Ch 4:26,27), whose chief claim to distinction was that he was father of 16 sons and 6 daughters. The descendants of such a numerous progeny, not being able to maintain themselves in their ancestral home in Beer-sheba, in the days of Hezekiah fell upon Gerar, and dispossessed "the sons of Ham" (1 Ch 4:39, the Septuagint), and upon Mt. Seir, driving out the Amalekites (1 Ch 4:43).
(9) A man of Reuben, son of Gog (1 Ch 5:4).
(10), (11) Two men of "Israel," i.e. not priests or Levites, one "of the sons of Hashum" (Ezr 10:33), the other "of the sons of Bani" (Ezr 10:38), who put away their foreign wives at Ezra's command, in 1 Esdras called respectively "Semei" (9:33) and "Someis" (9:34).
(12) A brother of Zerubbabel (1 Ch 3:19).
The Shimeites were descendants of Shimei, grandson of Levi; compare (1) (a) above (Nu 3:21; Zec 12:13).
Edward Mack
Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Definition for 'shimei'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". - ISBE; 1915.

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