Was the Apostle Simon a Canaanite?

Lion of Patmos Topical Video #1

(Do you prefer less music? Watch the version of this video at the bottom of this page.)

Hello and welcome to our first entry of “Topical Videos” – a new format to our usual presentations here on the Lion of Patmos channel. These videos will explore subjects with more specific focus.

This video’s topic is regarding the ambassador, (or apostle if one prefers), Simon: who in the KJV was translated as “Simon the Canaanite” in both Matthew and Mark.

Now before we begin to explore the Greek, we should understand from Covenant Theology alone that Simon certainly could not have been a Canaanite. Yahshua had shunned such people in His ministry, and had not come for them, and certainly would not have had any of them for an ambassador. As Paul said in his epistle to the Galatians, “no one can add themselves to the Covenant”.

Therefore, while reading a translation, which like any other translation was written by fallible men – we must ask ourselves if a verse is a proper rendering of the original language. The King James Version alone is known to have hundreds of mistakes in translation.

The passages to be examined are Matthew 10:4 and Mark 3:18, as Luke in his account listed Simon as “the zealot”.

In Mark, all of the ancient codices read Simon as a Cananean, (as in a man from the town of Kana), which was near Nazareth and was where Christ had turned the water into wine. The ancient codices which read Cananean in Mark 3:18 are the 4th century Codices Sinaticus and Vaticanus, and the 5th century Bezae, Washingtonensis, and Ephraemi Syri.

The only major ancient manuscript which does not have Simon as a Cananean here in Mark, is the 4th century Codex Alexandrinus. The fact that the King James Version chose to follow this manuscript instead of the others, is an excellent example among many that the King James Version often follows the Alexandrian tradition, which is esteemed to be a significant if not sole source for the Majority Text.

Now the Codex Alexandrinus is wanting most of Matthew’s account, so we cannot compare how it translated the two Gospels. However the Ephraemi Syri, which usually agrees with the Alexandrinus, actually has Simon as a Cananean in Matthew as well.

When we look at the other Greek manuscripts of Matthew in particular, we can see that they were divided at an early time. The 4th century codices, the Sinaticus and Vaticanus, each have Canaanite (κανανι) and Cananean respectively. As we look through them all we can see the division goes right down the middle with roughly equal support on both sides.

Why do we see such divisions in our Scriptures? This is a core part of Biblical studies, for even at the time of Jeremiah were scribes corrupting the texts. While the original word of God was infallible, it has been interfered with over the years, and thus as Bible students we must be diligent in identifying the interpolations.

Some unstudied Christians try to ignore this obligation of study with an insistence that there has been no such corruptions, but if they believe the prophet Jeremiah, then they must also believe that such corruptions exist.

They are in no way a hurdle to the diligent student, because we can see that when comparing the manuscripts and observing the pragmatic harmony and prophetic insight of our Scriptures, that the corruptions are evidently quite few. Some of these corruptions were perhaps malicious, as Jeremiah implies, others might have been glosses and scribal errors copied from one worker to the next. You see this type of error quite a few times in Old Testament translations, such as when a ד is mistaken for a ר.


Tackling interpolations and scribal errors is a two step process:

1. Is it in the oldest manuscripts?

2: Does it harmonize with the rest of Scripture if we include it?

Because the Marcian manuscripts are nearly unanimous on this issue, it helps balance out the division in Matthew. Putting the two Gospels together, we can observe that the majority of the oldest manuscripts have Simon as a Cananean.

 This should be enough – but we will also tackle question #2 for the purpose of being thorough.

Something beautiful about interpolations and significant scribal errors is that they always no matter how short contradict the rest of the Scriptures. This is the awe of divine inspiration, that no matter how short a thing a scribe may have attempted to add – it couldn’t hold to the weight of the Bible.

 The Canaanites were accursed, being mixed with the Kenites and the Rephaim, and for this reason did Yahweh instruct Israel to exterminate them all. Conversion was not an option, and could never be, not even to this day: as the law says that “a bastard shall not enter the congregation of Yahweh”. As Paul said (in paraphrase) “the Covenant is only for the children of the Promise” and “the faith is not for all”.

Christ’s interaction with the Canaanite woman is also a signal for us, as while He regarded her supplication in order to relieve the ambassador’s annoyance and for our education towards His exclusive purpose: He did not allow her to follow Him as Simon did. When we understand that Simon was a Cananean, there is no contradiction in Christ’s actions.

One of the places where the destiny of the Canaanites is made most vividly evident, is found in Zechariah 14 in a prophecy concerning the Kingdom. This is a prophecy which has not yet been fulfilled, and which promises us that in this coming day there will be “no Canaanite in the house of Yahweh.” Now there are indeed still Canaanites among us, for Yahweh does not just forget a man’s patriarch, and will still refer to Him as such. He knows what is in a man.

If Simon was one of these Canaanites, then that means he will not be resurrected and will therefore have no place in the Kingdom of God. But Christ had specifically said that Simon will sit upon a throne along with the other ambassadors, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. What is it then?

If Simon was a Canaanite who was somehow in the Kingdom contrary to this prophecy, then Yahweh would be a hypocrite breaking His own Law. If Simon were a Canaanite but was excluded as Zechariah promises, then Yahshua’s words concerning the thrones would not be able to stand.

Is Yahweh a hypocrite? Does Yahweh break His own word? Certainly not! Therefore we see that not only is Simon is a Cananean in the majority of the oldest manuscripts of our Bibles, but that the Covenants and words and prophecies of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation demand it as a whole.

 The ambassadors were mostly if not entirely Benjamites, in fulfillment of a prophecy concerning the tribe in 1 Kings 11:36, and were thus fulfilling their prophetic designation as light-bearers for Israel. Even Paul who was of Tarsus and not of Galilee was a Benjamite, as he himself attested, demonstrating Yahweh’s hand in all things.

There was one however from the original twelve who actually was a Canaanite, as Christ had told the ambassadors that He had deliberately chosen a devil among them. This was done so that the writings could be fulfilled.

And this devil was none other than Judas Iscariot. Christ had called Judas a “son of destruction”, and Paul of Tarsus in chapter 9 of his epistle to the Romans wrote that the Edomites were vessels of destruction. Now things begin to make sense, especially as we observe that Judas hailed from a town in southern Judah named Kerioth, which once bordered Edom. Judas was evidently a descendant of the Edomites who were forcibly converted to the Judean religion at the time of the Maccabees.

Meanwhile all of the other ambassadors were from Gaililee, and as Christ said: “a tree is known by its fruits.”

It is Paul of Tarsus who will be given one of those twelve thrones, not Judas, but there was never any replacement necessitated for Simon. Simon was not a Canaanite, but was a Kananean of Galilee, and he will certainly be with us in the Kingdom.

Now there is one last thing we must add concerning Simon, and this is that because Luke in his list calls Simon “the zealot” – some commentators who appear to idolize the King James translation try to argue that “zealot” is the meaning of the word “Canaanite.”

There is no evidence for this, as the Hebrew word, according to Strong’s, comes from a verb meaning to humiliate.

“Zealot” was just a nickname for Simon, and was likely quite helpful considerin that Simon was one of the most common names in Palestine during the time of Christ judging by the most common names in Josephus and contemporary 1st century Judean literature.

This is why we see men in the New Testament such as “Simon the Leper” and “Simon the Tanner”. These epithets (or nicknames) helped differ one Simon from another. It is certainly a good thing to be a zealot, and Christ encourages us to be zealous in the Revelation, while condemning those who are lukewarm.

Now that we understand that Simon was from Kana, what can we glean from this? This we will explore in a video which we will upload in a short time. In that video we will observe how Simon of Kana was most likely one and the same as an important figure from the Gospel of John.

Now Praise Yahweh the God of Israel, and thank you for watching.



Now some try to argue that Simon was called a Canaanean in Matthew and Mark because the Hebrew word qanai means to be zealous. However if this were the intention of Matthew and Mark, why would they transliterate the Aramaic or Hebrew into a place name instead of just describing him as zealous in Greek? If one would argue that Matthew was possibly originally penned in Hebrew then neither does that work, because Mark shares the term and his account was evidently penned in Greek for a Roman audience. Furthermore: why would Mark interpret Boanerges for the sons of Zebedee but not Simon’s epithet? Why would the manuscripts of Matthew observe divisions between Canaanite and Canaanean if it was meant to be the transliteration of a description all along?)

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