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SHEMAIAH (shē-mā'ya, Heb. shem‘yâh, The Lord has heard)

SHEMAIAH shĭ mā’ yə (שְׁמַעְיָ֑ה; LXX Σαμαίας, meaning God hears). A name carried by a considerable number of Biblical and apocryphal persons. It was predominantly given to those engaged in spiritual pursuits, as Levites, priests and prophets.

The Biblical references.

1. A son of Shecaniah, in the line of Zerubbabel. He was the keeper of the East Gate, and worked on the repair of the wall of Jerusalem under Nehemiah (1 Chron 3:22; cf. Neh 3:29).

2. A descendant of Simeon, a chieftain and head of a town (1 Chron 4:37; 9:14).

3. Member of a Reubenite family (1 Chron 5:4).

4. A Levite, belonging to the house of Merari, also referred to in Nehemiah 11:15, one of the overseers of the “outside work of the house of God,” i.e., maintenance duties (1 Chron 9:14).

5. Another Levite, of the family of Jeduthun and Elkanah. Probably his son, Obadiah or Abda (1 Chron 9:16). He is the same as Shammuah in Nehemiah 11:17.

6. A leading Levite in the days of David, and the chief of the sons of Elizaphan of the Kohathites. With two hundred of his brethren, he assisted in bringing the Ark of the Covenant from the house of Obed-edom to Jerusalem (1 Chron 15:18; cf. 2 Sam 6:12-15).

7. The son of Nethanel, of the Levites, and a scribe who recorded the results of King David’s choice by lot of those who would serve in the twenty-four courses of the newly organized Temple service (1 Chron 24:6).

8. The oldest son of Obed-edom, whose sons in turn were distinguished by great ability. He belonged to the division of the gatekeepers in the new Temple order (1 Chron 26:4, 6, 7).

9. A prophet who advised Rehoboam not to take military action against Jeroboam and the ten northern tribes that seceded (2 Chron 11:2-4). In obedience to the Lord’s command through the prophet the army was dissolved, and each man returned to his home (cf. 1 Kings 12:33). There is some confusion at this point in the LXX, which includes after 1 Kings 12:24 a brief resumé of the account of Ahijah the prophet and Jeroboam (reported in 1 Kings 11:29-40), but which assigns the prophet’s role to Shemaiah. Rehoboam is again the subject of a word from the Lord through Shemaiah, predicting his defeat at the hand of Shishak, Pharaoh of Egypt (2 Chron 12:5, 7). Along with Iddo the seer, he was also a chronicler of the life of Rehoboam (12:15).

10. A Levite, sent by Jehoshaphat in a company of sixteen men, which included eight other Levites, two priests and five princes, to assist in his reforms by teaching the law throughout the cities of Judah (2 Chron 17:8).

11. A Levite who assisted in the cleansing of the Temple during the reign of Hezekiah. He was a son of Jeduthun (2 Chron 29:14).

12. A man, prob. a Levite, who assisted in the distribution of the “free-will offerings to God” to the priests and Levites assembled at the E gate (2 Chron 31:15).

13. A chief of the Levites, along with Conaniah and Nethanel his brothers. A member of a wealthy group that made liberal gifts of sacrificial animals for Josiah’s revival Passover (2 Chron 35:9). He is also mentioned in 1 Esdras 1:9.

14. A son of Adonikam and a member of a group that accompanied Ezra in the return from the Babylonian exile (Ezra 8:13). Also mentioned in 1 Esdras 8:39.

15. A different Shemaiah, sent by Ezra as a member of a delegation to Iddo in the interest of recruiting additional Levites for the priestly service in Jerusalem (Ezra 8:16). Also referred to in 1 Esdras 8:44.

16. A priest, one of four sons of Harim, who had married a foreign wife, and was required by Ezra’s judgment to put her away (Ezra 10:21). See also 1 Esdras 9:21.

17. Another man in the line of Harim, evidently not the same as 16 above, but an ordinary Israelite, who had also married a foreign wife (Ezra 10:31).

18. A hired prophet, sent by Tobiah and Sanballat to intimidate Nehemiah, and so hinder progress on the rebuilding of the wall. The fear of assassination was calculated to cause him to flee into the Temple, a forbidden act, and so bring reproach upon him in the eyes of the people, and perhaps divine wrath as well. Nehemiah wisely refused this ploy (Neh 6:10).

19. The name of a group of priests, prob. one of the twenty-four courses, who participated with Nehemiah in the sealing of the covenant at the dedication of the wall (Neh 10:8). Also mentioned in connection with the coming of Zerubbabel to Jerusalem (12:6), and in connection with Joiakim (12:18).

20. A priest, who was a member of a company marching to the right upon the walls, at the time of Nehemiah’s dedicatory services (Neh 12:34).

21. Another Levite, descended from Asaph (Neh 12:35).

22. A trumpet player, and priest’s son, who was one that marched with the group going to the right in the dedication ceremonies (Neh 12:36).

23. A Levite musician with the group that marched to the left during the dedication of the walls of Jerusalem (Neh 12:42).

24. The father of a prophet named Uriah, from Kirjath-jearim. He prophesied against Jerusalem in the time of King Jehoiakim, who sought his life. Uriah, however, escaped to Egypt, but he was brought back and executed by Jehoiakim (Jer 26:20).

25. A false prophet, called Shemaiah of Nehelam, who attempted to interfere with Jeremiah’s ministry. The latter pronounced judgment upon him, in the extinction of his family, who would not witness the return from captivity (Jer 29:24-32).

26. The father of Delaiah, a prince who was among the witnesses of Jehoiakim’s burning of the scroll containing the words of Jeremiah (Jer 36:12).

The apocryphal references.

1. Those previously mentioned, under 13, 14, 15 and 16 respectively.

2. One of the “sons of Ezora,” who had married a foreign wife, in Ezra’s time (1 Esd 9:34).

3. An acquaintance of Tobit, who calls him “the great Shemaiah” (Tobit 5:13).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

she-ma’-ya, she-mi’-a (shema`yah (in 2Ch 11:2; 17:8; 31:15; 35:9; Jer 26:20; 29:24; 36:12, shema`yahu), "Jahveh hears"): The name is most frequently borne by priests, Levites and prophets.

(1) Codex Vaticanus Sammaias; Codex Alexandrinus Samaias (2Ch 12:5,7). A prophet who, together with Ahijah, protested against Rehoboam’s contemplated war against the ten revolted tribes (1Ki 12:22-24 = 2Ch 11:2-4). He declared that the rebellion had divine sanction. The second Greek account knows nothing of Ahijah in this connection and introduces Shemaiah at the gathering at Shechem where both Jeroboam and Rehoboam were present; it narrates that on this occasion Shemaiah (not Ahijah) rent his garment and gave ten parts to Jeroboam to signify the ten tribes over which he was to become king. (This version, however, is not taken very seriously, because of its numerous inconsistencies.) Shemaiah also prophesied at the invasion of Judah by Shishak (2Ch 12:5-7). His message was to the effect that as the princes of Israel had humbled themselves, God’s wrath against their idolatrous practices would not be poured out upon Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak (2Ch 13:7). He is mentioned as the author of a history of Rehoboam (2Ch 12:15).

(2) Son of Shecaniah (1Ch 3:22, Samaia), a descendant of Zerubbabel. This is also the name of one of the men who helped to repair the wall (Ne 3:29, Semeia (...) (compare Curtis, ICC, in 1Ch 3:17-24)).

(3) A Simeonite (1Ch 4:37, Codex Vaticanus Sumeon; Codex Alexandrinus Samaias), identical, perhaps, with the Shimei of 1Ch 4:26,27.

(4) A Reubenite (1Ch 5:4, Codex Vaticanus Semeei; Codex Alexandrinus Semein), called Shema in 1Ch 5:8.

(5) A Merarite Levite (1Ch 9:14; Ne 11:15, Samaia), one of those who dwelt in Jerusalem.

(6) A Levite of the family of Jeduthun, father of Obadiah or Abda (1Ch 9:16, Sameia, Codex Alexandrinus Samias, called "Shammua" in Ne 11:17).

(7) Head of the Levitical Kohathite clan of Elizaphan in the time of David (1Ch 15:8, Codex Vaticanus Samaias; Codex Alexandrinus Samaia; Codex Sinaiticus Sameas; 1Ch 15:11, Codex Vaticanus Samias; Codex Alexandrinus Semeias; Codex Sinaiticus Samai). He may be the same person as (8).

(8) The scribe (1Ch 24:6), the son of Nethanel, who registered the names of the priestly courses.

(9) A Korahite Levite, eldest son of Obed-edom (1Ch 26:4,6, Codex Vaticanus Samaias; Codex Alexandrinus Sameias; 1Ch 26:7, Codex Vaticanus Samai; Codex Alexandrinus Semeia).

(10) A Levite (2Ch 17:8, Codex Vaticanus Samouas; Codex Alexandrinus Samouias). One of the commission appointed by Jehoshaphat to teach the book of the Law in Judah. The names of the commissioners as a whole belong to a period later than the 9th century. (Gray, HPN, 231).

(11) One of the men "over the free-will offerings of God" (2Ch 31:15, Semeei).

(12) A Levite of the family of Jeduthun in the reign of Hezekiah (2Ch 29:14), one of those who assisted in the purification of the Temple.

(13) A chief of the Levites (2Ch 35:9), called "Samaias" in Septuagint and 1 Esdras 1:9.

(14) A "chief man" under Ezra (Ezr 8:16), called "Maasmas" and "Samaias" in 1 Esdras 8:43,44.

(15) A member of the family of Adonikam (Ezr 8:13, Codex Vaticanus Samaia; Codex Alexandrinus Samaeia; "Samaias" in 1Esdras 8:39).

(16) A priest of the family of Harim who married a foreign wife (Ezr 10:21), called "Sameus" in 1 Esdras 9:21.

(17) A layman of the family of Harim who married a foreign wife (Ezr 10:31), called "Sabbeus" in 1 Esdras 9:32.

(18) A prophet (Ne 6:10-14, Codex Vaticanus Semeei; Codex Alexandrinus Semei), employed by Sanballat and Tobiah to frighten Nehemiah and hinder the rebuilding of the wall.

(19) One of the 24 courses of priests, 16th under Zerubbabel (Ne 12:6, Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Alexandrinus Semeias), 15th under Joiakim (Ne 12:18; Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Alexandrinus Semeia), and 21st under Nehemiah (Ne 10:8, Samaia), mentioned in connection with the dedication of the wall.

(20) A priest, descendant of Asaph (Ne 12:35).

(21) A singer (or clan) participating in the dedication of the wall (Ne 12:36).

(22) Father of the prophet Urijah (Jer 26:20, Codex Vaticanus and Codex Alexandrinus Samaias; Codex Sinaiticus Maseas).

(23) A false prophet who was upbraided by Jeremiah (29:24-32) for attempting to hinder his work. He is styled "the Nehelamite" and was among those carried into captivity with Jehoiachin. In opposition to Jeremiah, he predicted a speedy ending to the captivity. Jeremiah foretold the complete destruction of Shemaiah’s family.

(24) Father of Delaiah, who was a prince in the reign of Zedekiah (Jer 36:12).

(25) "The great," kinsman of Tobias (Tobit 5:13).

Horace J. Wolf