SHIMEI (shĭm'ē-ī, Heb. shim‘î, famous)

SHIMEI shĭm’ ĭ ī (שִׁמְעִ֣י, שֶׁ֔מַע, שִׁמְעָא, prob. hear me. LXX, Σεμεεί). A name appearing frequently throughout the OT. A popular family name used widely by the Levites. Before and after the Exile it was used at least six times.

2. The great-grandson of Merari and son of Libni (6:29). Since Gershom and Merari were brothers Shimei (1) was a relative of Shimei (2).

3. A Levite, one of the six sons of Jeduthun who was appointed by David and the chiefs to prophesy with the lyre in thanksgiving and praise to the Lord (25:3).

4. A Levite, who with twelve sons and brethren, was among the 288 singers under Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman. They were appointed to the tenth order (25:17).

5. A Levite, a descendant of Heman, the musician, who was one of those who aided Hezekiah in the cleansing of the Temple during his reform (2 Chron 29:14). When the people began to bring the tithes and dedicated articles into the Temple, Hezekiah appointed Shimei with his brother, Conaniah, as the chief officers to receive them. The close association of the two Shimeis in the text suggests that they were the same person (2 Chron 29:14; 31:12).

6. A Levite, in the time of Ezra, who put away his foreign wife during Ezra’s reform (Ezra 10:23).

The best-known Bible personality of this name is the Benjaminite, the son of Gera of Saul’s family, who met David at Bahurim in his flight from Absalom and cursed him (2 Sam 16:5). David’s flight took him past a place from which Shimei could hurl stones as well as ugly words at the fleeing king (16:6, 7). David’s men offered to silence the insolent Benjaminite but the king refused, believing that Jehovah would take note of the affliction he suffered under the tormenting tongue of Saul’s house. A bit of the king’s faith (or theology) showed itself in his response. God would reward such suffering with good, and he needed divine support right then more than he needed peace with Saul’s house (16:11, 12).

With the turn of events which brought deliverance to David and his faithful followers, Shimei found it necessary to reverse his former behavior. As David returned to Jerusalem Shimei, with a thousand Benjaminites, met him at the Jordan River and, in great humility and penance, pleaded for mercy (2 Sam 19:16-23). David restrained his men from seeking vengeance and assured the trembling Benjaminite that he would not be put to death.

Shimei’s fate was determined by his own response to Solomon’s restrictions. Before his death David instructed Solomon to see to it that Shimei received the punishment befitting his deeds. Solomon brought Shimei to Jerusalem and warned him that he would be put to death if he ever left the city. Things went well for Shimei for three years, but when his slaves ran away he left the city to retrieve them. Upon his return, Solomon carried out the threatened penalty; Shimei was slain (1 Kings 2:42-46).

C. The brother of David, and father of Jonathan, who slew a giant Philistine taunting David’s forces at Gob (2 Sam 21:19-21). This brother of David is called Shammah in 1 Samuel 16:9.

D. A Benjaminite, the son of Ela, who was appointed by Solomon from the tribe of Benjamin to provide food for the royal household (1 Kings 4:18). By the appointment Shimei became one of the twelve officers whose task it was to provide supplies one month of the year. If this appointment was a reward for faithful service under David, this Shimei is the same man who with Rei remained faithful to David in Adonijah’s attempt to usurp the throne and prevent Solomon from coming to power (1:8).

E. A descendant of Solomon, the son of Pedaiah and the brother of Zerubabbel (1 Chron 3:19). It was Zerubabbel who with Joshua returned from Babylon in 538 b.c. to rebuild the Temple at Jerusalem. Shimei was also a descendant of Jeconiah (Jehoiachin) who was carried captive to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar.

F. A Simeonite, the son of Zaccur, living in Beer-sheba in the time of David. His chief claim to distinction was his very large family which found the villages of Judah insufficient to meet their needs. In the days of Hezekiah this group of Simeonites went to Mt. Seir, destroyed the remnant of the Amalekites and dwelt there (1 Chron 4:26-43).

G. A descendant of Reuben and a son of Gad (5:4).

H. The head of a house in the tribe of Benjamin (8:21). The KJV has Shimhi, but the Heb. has the usual שִׁמְעִ֣י, however, the Heb. for 1 Chronicles 8:13 has שֶׁ֔מַע which may be a variant of the more popular שִׁמְעִ֣י. The Shema of 1 Chronicles 8:13 was a head of his father’s house, with his home in Aijalon, while his descendants lived in Jerusalem (1 Chron 8:28).

I. A man of Judah, designated as the “Ramathite” whom David placed over his vineyards (1 Chron 27:27).

J. A son of Hashum but not a Levite, who in the time of Ezra put away his foreign wife (Ezra 10:33). Both he and Shimei, the son of Binnui are listed among “the men of Israel” who participated in Ezra’s reform (10:38).

K. A Benjaminite, a descendant of Kish and grandfather of Mordecai who played a prominent role in the Book of Esther (Esth 2:5, 6).


H. P. Smith, OT History, 149.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

(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; 1Ch 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 (1Ch 6:42), possibly the same as (a) above, Jahath the son of South (compare 1Ch 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 (1Ch 6:29).

(d) One of the 288 trained singers in the service of the sanctuary under Asaph (1Ch 25:17).

(e) One of the Levites who helped to cleanse the Temple in Hezekiah’s reformation (2Ch 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 (2Ch 31:11,12).

(f) A Levite who under Ezra put away his foreign wife (Ezr 10:23), "Semeis" in 1 Esdras 9:23.

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" (1Ki 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 (1Ki 2:36-38). Feeling secure after some years, Shimei left his home in Jerusalem to recapture some escaped slaves (1Ki 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" (1Ki 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 (1Ki 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 (1Ki 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 (1Ch 8:21), whose home was in Aijalon, where he was a "head of fathers’ houses" (1Ch 8:13); but his descendants lived in Jerusalem (1Ch 8:28). In the King James Version he is called "Shimhi"; in 1Ch 8:13 he is called "Shema."

(5) Another Benjamite, an ancestor of Mordecai (Es 2:5), "Semeias" in Additions to Esther 11:2.

(6) A brother of David (2Sa 21:21, the King James Version "Shimeah"); in 1Sa 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 (1Ch 27:27).

(8) A Simeonite living in the time of David (1Ch 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" (1Ch 4:39, the Septuagint), and upon Mt. Seir, driving out the Amalekites (1Ch 4:43).

(9) A man of Reuben, son of Gog (1Ch 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 (1Ch 3:19).

The Shimeites were descendants of Shimei, grandson of Levi; compare (1) (a) above (Nu 3:21; Zec 12:13).