The first four children of Leah, born to Jacob, were Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah. They grew up together. It’s natural for these four to stick together. In Judges 1:3, we see Judah make an agreement with his brother Simeon. “And Judah said to Simeon his brother, ‘Come up with me into the territory allotted to me, that we may fight against the Canaanites. And I likewise will go with you into the territory allotted to you.’ So Simeon went with him.” Duane Lindsey sheds some light on their relationship. He writes, “The tribal military alliance of Judah and Simeon was a logical one since the allotted inheritance of the Simeonites was within the southern boundaries of the tribe of Judah. Also, Judah and Simeon had a natural bond as offspring of Jacob and Leah. Their common enemy was the Canaanites, probably used here as a generic term for all the inhabitants of Canaan in the area west of the Jordan River.”[1]

Judah was the one son of the 12 from which the ultimate king of the nation would come. He was to be the leader of his people. Jacob chose him before his death and his will for Judah was recorded in Genesis 49:10. While blessing his children before his death he said, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.” This explains why he was granted the largest piece of land according to the allotment of Joshua. Also, as Block observes, “Simeon was the smallest tribe by far. This tribe’s twenty-two thousand men of military age were less than half the average of the other eleven tribes, so it was probably too small to receive an independent territorial grant. Within a century or two, Simeon ceased to exist as a separate tribe.”[2] Simeon’s tribe was absorbed into the tribe of Judah and comprised part of the southern kingdom later.

Gingrich argues that it was a lack of faith on Judah’s part to seek an alliance with his brother Simeon. He says, “God commanded The Judahites to go against the Canaanites and He promised them victory. The Judahites’ request for help from the Simeonites reveals a lack of faith in the promises of God on the part of the Judahites.”[3] However, most commentators agree with me, as well they should! An agreeing commentator says, “The strength of two is greater than the strength of one. The wisdom of two is better than the wisdom of one. In cooperation, one can supply what the other lacks. One has courage, another has prudence. One has the knowledge; another knows how to use it. One has wealth, the other has the wit to use wealth. One has wisdom but is ‘slow of speech;’ the other ‘can speak well,’ but is foolish in counsel (Exod. 32.). No man has all the qualities which go to make up perfect action, and therefore no man should think to do without the help of his fellow man. It is a presumptuous state of mind which makes a man seem sufficient to himself, and an uncharitable state of mind which prompts him to withhold help from his fellow.”[4] Paul applies these ideas to Christians in Romans 12:4-5. He writes, “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them.”

[1] Lindsey, F. Duane. 1985. “Judges.” In The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, edited by J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, 1:377. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[2] Block, Daniel Isaac. 1999. Judges, Ruth. Vol. 6. The New American Commentary. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[3] Gingrich, Roy E. 2006. The Books of Judges & Ruth. Memphis, TN: Riverside Printing.

[4] Spence-Jones, H. D. M., ed. 1909. Judges. The Pulpit Commentary. London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.