Day 19: Off the Grid

Today’s reading: Deut 29-34, Ps 28-29

If you were paying close attention today, you noticed a significant omission near the end of the book of Deuteronomy. Didn’t catch that? Go back and look again at the role call in chapter 33, where Moses blesses each of the tribes just before he dies. At least, it appears that way until you count them up and discover that the list here includes eleven, not twelve. One of the tribes appears to have fallen off the grid. How could this happen?

The tribe who is not mentioned in this chapter is Simeon, which then begs the question, “Why not?” Seeking an answer to this question offers a great opportunity today to explore cross-referencing as a tool for Bible study.  If you have a steel-trap memory, you may already have a head start on an answer from our first two weeks of reading. For the rest of us, concordance and search tools are a big help.

These days, there are some great resources available online. For example, click here. By doing a keyword search for Simeon, you find a list of other passages where that name shows up. If you wanted to explore all the places the word “forgive” occurs or find all the references to Jerusalem, you could do a similar search.

Back to our current search on Simeon. Here are some passages that help us piece together an answer: Genesis 49:5-7 (Simeon is cursed by his father Jacob for his behavior); Numbers 1:23 (the tribe of Simeon numbers 59,300, one of the largest); Numbers 26:14 (during its time in the wilderness, the tribe of Simeon has already shrunk to 22,200). and Joshua 19:1-9 (an explanation is given for Simeon’s land allocation within Judah’s borders).

Perhaps you are wondering, “Did Moses really not bless the tribe of Simeon?” Since the material found in Deuteronomy was not written down until many generations later, it is impossible for us to know the answer to this. By cross-referencing today, though, we are able to see how the exclusion of a blessing, whether by Moses or by those who recorded this episode in Israel’s history, fits into the larger storyline.

I hope you find this tool helpful as you continue your journey through the perfect 100.

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