34:30 Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought ruin 1 on me by making me a foul odor 2 among the inhabitants of the land – among the Canaanites and the Perizzites. I 3 am few in number; they will join forces against me and attack me, and both I and my family will be destroyed!”
49:5 Simeon and Levi are brothers,
weapons of violence are their knives! 4
49:6 O my soul, do not come into their council,
do not be united to their assembly, my heart, 5
for in their anger they have killed men,
and for pleasure they have hamstrung oxen.
49:7 Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce,
and their fury, for it was cruel.
I will divide them in Jacob,
and scatter them in Israel! 6
1 tn The traditional translation is “troubled me” (KJV, ASV), but the verb refers to personal or national disaster and suggests complete ruin (see Josh 7:25, Judg 11:35, Prov 11:17). The remainder of the verse describes the “trouble” Simeon and Levi had caused.
2 tn In the causative stem the Hebrew verb בָּאַשׁ (ba’ash) means “to cause to stink, to have a foul smell.” In the contexts in which it is used it describes foul smells, stenches, or things that are odious. Jacob senses that the people in the land will find this act terribly repulsive. See P. R. Ackroyd, “The Hebrew Root באשׁ,” JTS 2 (1951): 31-36.
3 tn Jacob speaks in the first person as the head and representative of the entire family.
4 tn The meaning of the Hebrew word מְכֵרָה (mÿkherah) is uncertain. It has been rendered (1) “habitations”; (2) “merchandise”; (3) “counsels”; (4) “swords”; (5) “wedding feasts.” If it is from the verb כָּרַת (karat) and formed after noun patterns for instruments and tools (maqtil, miqtil form), then it would refer to “knives.” Since the verb is used in Exod 4:25 for circumcision, the idea would be “their circumcision knives,” an allusion to the events of Gen 34 (see M. J. Dahood, “‘MKRTYHM’ in Genesis 49,5,” CBQ 23 : 54-56). Another explanation also connects the word to the events of Gen 34 as a reference to the intended “wedding feast” for Dinah which could take place only after the men of Shechem were circumcised (see D. W. Young, “A Ghost Word in the Testament of Jacob (Gen 49:5)?” JBL 100 : 335-422).
5 tn The Hebrew text reads “my glory,” but it is preferable to repoint the form and read “my liver.” The liver was sometimes viewed as the seat of the emotions and will (see HALOT 456 s.v. II כָּבֵד) for which the heart is the modern equivalent.
6 sn Divide…scatter. What is predicted here is a division of their tribes. Most commentators see here an anticipation of Levi being in every area but not their own. That may be part of it, but not entirely what the curse intended. These tribes for their ruthless cruelty would be eliminated from the power and prestige of leadership.