The legacy of Shimei

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Wretched Man

Puritan Board Freshman
I've often been intrigued by Shimei (of the Benjamin clan) and struggle to grasp the extent of his legacy. He of course is featured in 2 Samuel 16 as a prominent member of the tribe of Benjamin and by either relation or association, the house of Saul. He curses David as he exits Jerusalem and later repents upon David's return. David sort of forgives him, but essentially encourages Solomon to finish him off...

Later in Esther, Mordecai's genealogy lists Shimei and what might be his remote ancestor, Kish, whom some commentators infer is the father of Saul. Thus if this is true, Shemei was a relative of Saul.

Where things get particularly interesting (for me at least) is in *Zechariah 12:13 where the "family of the Shimeites" is listed as one of the families who mourn over he who was pierced...
12 The land shall mourn, by itself: the family of the house of David by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself, and their wives by themselves; 13 the family of the house of Levi by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the Shimeites by itself, and their wives by themselves;
Most commentators seem to connect this family of the Shimeites with the Levite mentioned in Numbers 3:18. However, I recall one sermon in which the pastor asserted this family was descended from the aforementioned Shimei of the tribe of Benjamin. His deduction was that the Jews residing in Palestine during Jesus' time primarily consisted of the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and Levi. The family of David and by extension, Nathan, represented the family members of Jesus. The family of Levi of course represented the Levites. And the family of the Shemeites represented the Benjamites who mourned Christ.

If all this is true, I am in awe of the intricate web of redemption to the house of Shimei. I also wonder if David had foreseen this as revealed by God and could partially explain David's reluctance to kill Shimei. Or perhaps I am completely misinterpreting.

I'd be curious if anyone on here has strong thoughts on this?

*I do realize of course the prophecy in Zechariah 13 is heavily debated on whether that directly points to Christ's Crucifixion or later upon his second coming - or a combination.

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Junior
If all this is true, I am in awe of the intricate web of redemption to the house of Shimei. I also wonder if David had foreseen this as revealed by God and could partially explain David's reluctance to kill Shimei. Or perhaps I am completely misinterpreting.

I'd be curious if anyone on here has strong thoughts on this?

What interesting questions in your whole post. These are the kind of things I often ponder.

One thing you may have noticed is that in the book of Judges, the Benjamites are usually portrayed as the 'bad' tribe. It's as if it teaches, "Can anything good come out of Benjamin"? The name Benjamin and Benjimites are mentioned 45 times in Judges as compared to both I & II Samuel, where the name is found a total of 20 times.

But I do not at this time have your answers.


Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
I am inclined to agree with the unnamed pastor who connected Shimei's family with the Shimei of Benjamin and 2Sam.16, and for the reasons cited. The Bible is meant to be read as an interconnected text (quite to the contrary of the modern skeptics' opinion), and these are the sorts of tie-ins that reward the close-reader and any who dwell in the text of Scripture. Haman, the Agagite, anyone? (cf. 1Sam.15) The Shimei connection is new to me, and I appreciate the notice.

I don't think David so much encourages Solomon to handle his "unfinished business" with Shimei by killing him (1Ki.2:8-9); but because Shimei actually represents an existential threat to Solomon, David advises him to act prudently in this matter. All will not be as it appears on the surface. And that he may expect Shimei will not behave with utter submission to David's son, therefore he should be ready to execute him when the time comes.

The story of vv39ff, about Shimei's two runaway slaves and his "trivial" transgression to secure them again, strikes me as "just a story," a cover for something. Reasonable suspicion, to my mind, is probably the greater cause for Solomon to act in strict justice toward him; and not simply because Solomon aims to fulfill the vengeful codicil to his father's will.

The reason the text of 2Sam.16 is so clear about Shimei's actions and his family (not just a Benjamite, but of Saul's house) is so that we don't mistake him for a ragamuffin, run-of-the-mill opportunist hoping to put himself on the winning side in the current power struggle. He was a cowardly fellow, but he also was (or was soon to be) the leading man of the house of Saul--one who had his own claim (however weak) to the throne of Israel.

To bolster that interpretation, there's the story at the beginning of 2Sam.16 about Mephibosheth, son of Jonathan, and the opportunistic claim by Ziba (later vehemently denied by the cripple) that Mephibosheth was siding with the rebel Absalom for convenience. After all is settled, David cannot determine who is telling the truth (Ziba or Mephibosheth) in 2Sam.19, so he splits the disputed fortune; Mephibosheth seeming willing to repudiate his stake entire for joy in the true king's return (the whole episode portends Solomon's justice in 1Ki.3:16ff).

Shimei is, therefore, a coward, a slippery guy, and a man of uncertain allegiance. Solomon cannot afford to give him any leash. And yet, possibly because of David's patience, the room to repent given Shimei is most appreciated by his descendants. They more than he, perhaps, adopt the posture and the spirit of Mephibosheth before the Son of David: “What is your servant, that you should look upon such a dead dog as I?” Certainly, the repentance spoken of in Zech.12 is better than Shimei's, 2Sam.19:18ff.


Puritan Board Sophomore
"Shimei. Ziba had deceived David, but Shimei openly curses him. Ziba saw David's sufferings as a means for his own gain; Shimei saw the sufferings of the king as an opportunity to revel in his hatred for him. Perhaps half-stunned himself that the king refuses to put him to death on the spot, Shimei gains all the greater confidence and boldness in attacking king David, his servants, and his family. He is shameless. The more patient David is, the more angry Shimei seems to become. The kindness of God leads some to repentance, but it leads others to hatred. We don't know whether Shimei knew about the incident with Bathsheba; whether he had any true grounds for his accusations. Surely his claims are at least completely groundless concerning David's rise to the throne. But it seems very probable that Shimei hated king David entirely without cause. Certainly it was so with our Lord; and continues to be so. Why do some today rage in their hatred against Christ, as the Jews did earlier, and as Shimei groundlessly rages here in hatred for David? With the breath that God himself gives them they curse God. They shake their fists at Him using the hands that He himself created. Like a rabid dog they attack their Master for no reason whatsoever. Even as the food comes to them daily they growl and bite the very hand that provides all their needs. I suppose they hate Him simply for who He is. They hate the Light because they love the darkness (John 3:19). Men hate and rage against Christ for the same reason the Jews did, because He testifies to the truth (John 8:40, 44). And it is the truth itself that they hate. The Jews thought they had defeated Christ when they were able to nail Him to the cross. They didn't realize that no one took His life; He gave it up of His own accord. While they raged against Him, He loved them, prayed and wept for them. In love He gave up His life, as they in hatred took it. And even now, as modern Shimei's curse and rage against God, He continues not only to give them breath and provide for their needs, but to hold out the precious gift of salvation. Oh, may some come to their senses, repent of their raging, and throw themselves into the arms of the Savior." (from Treasures of Christ in the Life of David)
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