“Simeon and Levi are brothers—
their swords are weapons of violence.
6 Let me not enter their council,
let me not join their assembly,
for they have killed men in their anger
and hamstrung oxen as they pleased.
7 Cursed be their anger, so fierce,
and their fury, so cruel!
I will scatter them in Jacob
and disperse them in Israel.
‘Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”’ (1 Corinthians 15:33).
It is generally true to say we need to get close to people to influence them, to be witnesses by life and by lip. But there are exceptions. Sometimes wisdom dictates: ‘Keep your distance.’ Certain people are carriers of an especially deadly moral virus and we need to put ‘space’ between us and them. For example, someone who has been to rehab, and got off drugs, may well find it necessary to not hang out with her old buddies, who are taking or dealing in drugs. Can a recovering alcoholic risk spending large amounts of time with his former drinking friends? There are situations where you have to put distance between yourself and the conduct and influence of certain other people. It’s a judgment call, but I believe the Holy Spirit will enable us to make wise decisions as we keep in step with Him.
It must have been heart-breaking for Jacob to have to distance himself from two of his sons. In this case he wanted nothing to do with their actions in slaughtering the Shechemites (Gen.34:25-31).
‘Since it was dangerous to be “in their assembly,” God arranged that the two tribes would not be able to assemble or do anything together. The tribe of Simeon was eventually absorbed into the tribe of Judah (Joshua 19:1,9), and the tribe of Levi was given fourty-eight towns to live in, scattered throughout the land (chap.21). Indeed, the brothers were “divided in Jacob and scattered in Israel.” Warren W. Wiersbe: Old Testament Commentary, p.137. Wiersbe also points out that their mistreatment of animals (6b) shows how cruel the brothers were. These dumb-creatures were not in any way responsible for what had happened to their sister. ‘God has a special concern for animals, and we’d better be careful how we treat them. (See Lev.22:26-28; Deut.22:6-7; Ps.36:6; 104:10-30; Jonah 4:11.)’