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Bereshit 46:10:

וּבְנֵ֣י שִׁמְע֗וֹן יְמוּאֵ֧ל וְיָמִ֛ין וְאֹ֖הַד וְיָכִ֣ין וְצֹ֑חַר וְשָׁא֖וּל בֶּן־הַֽכְּנַעֲנִֽית׃

Simeon’s sons: Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, Zohar, and Saul the son of a Canaanite woman.

Most commentors seem to assume Shaul is either the son of an actual Cannanite woman or of Dinah, who would have acquired such a designation due to events in Sechem.

We know very little about the mothers of most of Yaakov Aveinu's grandchildren, but the text seems to go out of its way to stress that Shaul is the son of a Cannanite woman and the other children are not. What, then, is the significance of this segment of the text?

  • Consider conforming your English transliterations. – Dr. Shmuel Dec 16 '18 at 0:50
  • More so than the mothers of the sons of any of the other tribes? – Alex Dec 16 '18 at 0:51
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    The text seems to go out of its way to stress that Shaul is the son of a Cannanite woman and the other children are not @Alex. There must be a reason. – Josh K Dec 16 '18 at 0:53
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    @JoshK The reason is presumably that Shimon's other children were not from the Cannanite. But the the text doesn't tell us anyone else's mothers either, so why do you expect this to be different? I.e. the text only tells us who the mother is when there is some significance being conveyed. – Alex Dec 16 '18 at 0:57
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    @JoshK So is your question: "What is the significance of Saul being the son of the Cannanite such that Scripture felt the need to tell us?"? If so, you might want to rephrase to convey that more clearly. – Alex Dec 16 '18 at 1:18
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This is addressed by several commentators on the verse in question:

Ibn Ezra

בן הכנענית. לעד כי נשי השבטים היו ארמיות ומצריות ואדומיות ומדיניות והזכיר זאת לבדה בעבור שעשה שמעון שלא כהוגן לקחת את כנענית ועל זה הדבר הזכיר מות ער ואונן בעבור היותם בני כנענית

The son of the Canaanite. As a testimony that the wives of the tribes were Arameans, Egyptians, Edomites, and Midianites. And it mentioned this one alone, because Shimon acted improperly by taking a Canaanite. And on this matter it mentioned the deaths of Er and Onan because they [too] were sons of a Canaanite.

(Chizkuni repeats Ibn Ezra basically word for word.)

Radak

נראה כי כולם נזהרו במצות אברהם זקנם שלא ליקח אשה מבנות כנען ושמעון גם כן אלא אחר שלקח אשתו ראשונה והיה לו בנים ממנה לקח אשה אחרת כנענית והיה לו ממנה שאול לפיכך פרסמו הכתוב

It appears that they were all careful about the command of their grandfather Abraham, to not take wives from the daughters of Cannan. And Shimon as well, except that after he took his first wife and had children from her he took another wife — a Canaanite — and had Saul from her; therefore Scripture publicized this.

Ibn Kaspi

ולא זכר על זולתו ענין אשה מהם וזה להעיר גנותו ולהעיר שבח האחרים

And it did not mention the wives of any of the others, and this is in order to show his [Shimon] degradation, and their [the other brothers] praiseworthiness.

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According to Midrash Sefer Hayashar http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=40009&st=&pgnum=163&hilite= Yemuel Yamin Ohad Yachin And Tzochar were sons of Dina and Shaul was the son of a Canaanite Woman named Bonah that was captured from the city of Shechem as the Passuk explains (Bereishis 34,29): ואת נשיהם שבו So Shimon took his wife in the manner of the Eishet Yefat Toar mentioned in Devarim 21,11.Tosfos Sotah says that even though the Canaanites were not allowed to convert that was only after Yehoshua started conquering the land: ולא נאמר לא תחיה כל נשמה אלא לאחר שהתחיל יהושע במלחמה
The Medrash lists all the Brothers wives names and who they were descended from.

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