At this time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon (Shim’on). He was both a righteous and devout man who was eagerly waiting for the deliverance and restoration of Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah with his own eyes. On the day that Mary and Joseph had brought Jesus to have him redeemed Simeon was led by the Spirit into the Temple. As Joseph and Mary went looking for a priest who could perform the redemption ceremony they found Simeon.
They greeted him and asked if he would perform the ceremony to which he agreed. Joseph held Jesus in his hands and said to Simeon, “This is my first born son, the first child from his mother’s womb and as the Torah commands us we have come to redeem him.”
Simeon replied, “Do you prefer to give your son to me or to redeem him with five shekels of silver.”
“I wish to redeem him and here is the cost of his redemption,” Joseph replied as he handed Simeon the five shekels along with his son. He received the child into his arms and he blessed God by saying,
“My Lord, you can now let your servant pass away in peace, just as you promised me.
My eyes have now seen your salvation, that which you have prepared for all your people.
He is a light that reveals truth to the nations, and the glory of your people Israel!” TJB 2:64-70
Why does the First Born Son of a Jewish Family Need to be Redeemed?
The redemption ceremony was call the ‘Pidyon Haben’. Originally the first born son was to be the family priest (Exo 13:2) but later the tribe of Levi took on the role of the first born son (Num 3:11-12). And so the first born son to a non-Levite family had to be substituted with a Levite and they were redeemed from service to God through the Pidyon Haben ceremony which required the payment of five shekels of silver (Num 18:15).
When Joseph and Mary went looking a priest to perform the redemption ceremony they found Simeon who just happened to be walking through the temple. Simeon was the man that God had chosen to redeem his son.
Facts about Simeon
- The reference to Simeon being both righteous and devout means he was an observant follower of the Torah in both heart and deed.
- For Simeon to be eagerly awaiting the restoration and deliverance of Israel meant that he, along with many others in Israel, were waiting for the Messiah to come and rally Israel into a war that would overthrow the Roman oppressors. To Simeon’s surprise he finds the Messiah in the form of a six week old baby.
- Although Luke does not mention it, Simeon was a priest who performed the ‘Pidyon Haben’ or the redemption ceremony for Jesus.
- The value of the five shekels of silver is probably worth in the vicinity of $50 -$100 today. This was the cost of redeeming the first born son.
- As Jesus Hebrew name, Yeshua, means salvation. Using a play on words Simeon was saying, ‘my eyes have seen Jesus.’
- Each stanza of Simeon’s blessing can be found in the scriptures of the Old Testament: Gen 46:30, Isa 52:10, Isa 42:6, Isa 46:13.