Genesis 34 Commentary

One of the hardest chapters in the Bible to interpret, and so ignored by many both Jews and Christians.
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MOST GODLESS CHAPTER OF THE BIBLE THE RAPE OF DI AH GE ESIS 34 COMME TARY Written and edited by Glenn Pease WARNING Please note the three titles of this study. It is uploaded three times using each title once, and so if you read one, do not bother to read the others, for they are identical. PREFACE This study has three titles, and I am putting it up three times on documento because people will want to read it for different reasons. It is a verse by verse study of a chapter in Genesis, and that will appeal to some. It is a shocking godless chapter that makes it unique, and that will appeal to others, and it is also a biography of Dinah and her family, and her rape experience which will appeal to another set of readers. It is also an experiment to see which of the three titles gets the most readers. This is a very difficult chapter of Genesis to study, and many preachers and commentators choose to just skip it altogether because it seems to have no redeeming value as a text to preach on and study. It is more depressing than being of any help, and so it is ignored by many. I have tried to find the best possible comments to give some understanding to this most godless chapter. Sometimes I do not have the name of the person I quote, and if they are identified I will give them credit where it is due. Others may not want their wisdom to be shared in this way, and if they request it to be deleted I will do so. My e-mail is [email protected] I TRODUCTIO 1. Steven Cole, “A few years ago, there was a popular movie called “Fatal Attraction.” I did not see it (because it was R-rated), but it was about a man whose involvement with a prostitute almost got him murdered. Genesis 34 is the original version of “Fatal Attraction.” A young man’s lust for a teenage girl results not only in his murder, but also in the murder of his father and all the men in his town. The script has lust, rape, anger, deception, greed, murder, and family conflict. Who needs the movies or TV--it’s all right here in the Bible! You may wonder, “Why is a sordid chapter like this in the Bible?” If a Jewish writer, like Moses, had wanted to make the nation’s founding fathers look good, either he would have left this story out or doctored it up, because it isn’t a pretty picture. While Shechem’s date rape of Dinah was wrong, it was nothing compared to the treachery and brutality of Jacob’s sons, who even used their religion to trick these friendly men. After slaughtering them, they looted their goods and took their wives and children as slaves. God’s chosen people weren’t exactly being a channel for His blessing to the nations! Since “all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2 Tim.3:16), this text has lessons for us. I think Moses included this chapter in all its repulsiveness to warn God’s people of the danger of becoming assimilated with the world. The nation Israel was about to go into the land of Canaan. The greatest danger facing them was not fighting the giants in the land. It was the danger of being seduced into blending in with the Canaanites. The same is true for us today.” 2. Bruce Goettsche , “From time to time we run across a passage in the Bible that I would call a "stinker" passage. It is a passage that when you read it you immediately say, "what in the world am I supposed to learn from this?" This passage would qualify as a "stinker" passage. This chapter records a sordid account of sinful humanity. But like every other passage in the Bible we need to remember Paul's words, "ALL scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, correction, and for training in righteousness." In other words, there are some things we can learn from this passage. This passage is unique in the Bible because the name of God is not mentioned at all in this chapter. ow, we know that the Bible was not written as chapters . . . chapters were added later for ease of use. But . . . we do know that in this entire account (which makes up this chapter), God's name is absent. In the book of Esther God's name is absent. However, all throughout the book of Esther we see the fingerprints of God. This is not the case in Genesis 34. In this passage we do not see God's name OR His influence. This is a passage filled with sin, excess and godlessness.” 3. Scott Grant, “Genesis 34 is one of the most disturbing chapters in all of scripture. I love Genesis 32-33. I have often thought of teaching those chapters at a retreat, but never have I thought of Genesis 34 as retreat material. Yet Genesis 34 is every bit the word of God that Genesis 32-33 is, so we must study it and teach it. To neglect such a passage, which slaps us in the face with wickedness of our world, is to risk living in denial.” 4. David Guzik, “This chapter contains one of the most shameful incidents in Israel's history. Leupold's homiletical suggestions on the chapter give us an idea of this: "We may well wonder if any man who had proper discernment ever drew a text from this chapter . . . It is rightly evaluated by the more mature mind and could be treated to advantage before a men's Bible class. But we cannot venture to offer homiletical suggestions for its treatment." When the Bible shows its leaders and heroes in such terrible, stark truth, we can know for sure that it is a book from God. Men don't write about themselves and their ancestors like this.” 5. Susanne Scholz, “Genesis 34 is a largely unknown story. Although the chapter features Dinah, the only daughter of Leah and one of the few biblical daughters identified by their mother’s name, even feminist readers have often ignored this chapter in the Bible. The reason for the neglect is clear. Tucked into the so-called Jacob-cycle, Genesis 34 presents a complicated narrative. Readers are challenged to deal with rape and murder. The story received little attention in the history of interpretation for various reasons. One relates certainly to the fact that Genesis 34 poses such a complicated ethical dilemma.” 6. It is amazing to me how many great commentators just skip this chapter as if it does not exist, and this leads to many having few insights as to its meaning and purpose. Jewish Rabbis even admit that their school teachers skip this chapter in their teaching. It is a hard chapter to deal with, but we cannot chicken out and ignore it. It is the Word of God, and it seems that great men of wisdom have dishonored it by not giving us their insights about it, and by not striving to help all of God's people to gain the value of God's purpose in having Moses write it. People say they believe the Bible from cover to cover, and then they skip and ignore the parts that are hard to grasp and use in a profitable way to teach and guide. There is very little positive in this chapter, and everyone is agreed that everyone in this chapter is a part of the problem. The best I can do is offer some ideas at the conclusion about the possible values of it. Dinah and the Shechemites 1 ow Dinah, the daughter Leah had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the women of the land. 1. Clarke, “It is supposed that Jacob had been now about seven or eight years in the land, and that Dinah, who was about seven years of age when Jacob came to Canaan, was now about fourteen or fifteen. Why or on what occasion she went out we know not, but the reason given by Josephus is very probable, viz., that it was on one of their festivals.” 1B. Dinah was the seventh and final child and only daughter of Leah and Jacob. Dinah was probably around 14 or 15 years old in this chapter. 2. It is obvious that Dinah should not have been walking around the country alone, for in a culture where morality was on a low level, it is folly for a girl to be alone. Her brothers should have made sure that one of them was with her when she went out to visit. The Jewish scholars debate what it means by her going out, for this word is often associated with prostitution as when a prostitute goes out to do her business. She was a young girl going out to visit the pagan women of the land, and this gives the impression that she was involved with them rather than with her own people, and that she may have been a rebel teenager. This is speculation, but many felt that Dinah was at fault for her being raped. One author wrote, “With all this cultural background, 'Dinah went out' is not an innocent statement. She is 'out of control' and something is going to happen. And what happens is a father's nightmare: Dinah, who went out to see the girls, is seen by a boy.” This is a common perspective, but it is speculation. It makes sense that the only girl in a house full of boy would want to get out to make some friends with other girls. There is no need to put any guilt on Dinah, for she is doing nothing wrong, but people almost always place blame on any girl who is raped. 2B. Others see it in a very positive light. Pablo R. Andiñach, for example gives us his view: “The profuse commercial exchanges meant that her life, which had previously been limited to the family and tribe environment, now began to open toward other horizons, and this generated larger expectations. The contact with diverse cultures and the exchange of merchandise and goods enabled her to know more about the people who were behind those interactions and transactions. For Jacob’s family it was no different, and that it all began with a woman who wanted to know more about other women is something we should not dismiss. It is true that leaving one’s place exposes one to dangers such as the one she finally suffered, but the narration also points us to the inner strength of this woman who risked danger in the search for new cultural openings, new relations and new friendships. Dinah goes out from her home to meet other women, learn their stories, and know about their plans and projects.” 3. Calvin, “Dinah is ravished, because, having left her father’s house, she wandered about more freely than was proper. She ought to have remained quietly at home, as both the Apostle teaches and nature itself dictates; for to girls the virtue is suitable, which the proverb applies to women, that they should be (οἰκουροὶ,) or keepers of the house. Therefore fathers of families are taught to keep their daughters under strict discipline, if they desire to preserve them free from all dishonor; for if a vain curiosity was so heavily punished in the daughter of holy Jacob, not less danger hangs over weak virgins at this day, if they go too boldly and eagerly into public assemblies, and excite the passions of youth towards themselves. For it is not to be doubted that Moses in part casts the blame of the offense upon Dinah herself, when he says, “she went out to see the daughters of the land;” whereas she ought to have remained under her mother’s eyes in the tent.” 4. Steven Cole draws us a picture that makes more sense as to what probably happened as he writes, “And it all came about in the course of everyday family living. Dinah, Jacob’s daughter by Leah, was about 14 or 15. Like any teenage girl, she wanted some girl friends, so she started wandering over to Shechem. As she hung out there, she scored big--the prince, for whom the town was named, fell for her. What 14 or 15 year-old girl wouldn’t be thrilled by that? It would be like a freshman girl being asked to the homecoming dance by the captain of the football team. Dinah was probably a bit naive, so she allowed herself to get into a situation with Shechem where the two of them were alone. His passion got the best of him, and he raped her.” 5. Jamison, “According to JOSEPHUS, she had been attending a festival; but it is highly probable that she had been often and freely mixing in the society of the place and that she, being a simple, inexperienced, and vain young woman, had been flattered by the attentions of the ruler's son. There must have been time and opportunities of acquaintance to produce the strong attachment that Shechem had for her.” 6. Henry, “She is reckoned now but fifteen or sixteen years of age when she here occasioned so much mischief. Observe, Her vain curiosity, which exposed her. She went out, perhaps unknown to her father, but by the connivance of her mother, to see the daughters of the land (Genesis 34:1); probably it was at a ball, or on some public day. Being an only daughter, she thought herself solitary at home, having none of her own age and sex to converse with; and therefore she must needs go abroad to divert herself, to keep off melancholy, and to accomplish herself by conversation better than she could in her father's tents. ote, It is a very good thing for children to love home; it is parents' wisdom to make it easy to them, and children's duty then to be easy in it. Her pretence was to see the daughters of the land, to see how they dressed, and how they danced, and what was fashionable among them. She went to see, yet that was not all, she went to be seen too; she went to see the daughters of the land, but, it may be, with some thoughts of the sons of the land too. I doubt she went to get an acquaintance with those Canaanites, and to learn their way.” 7. Henry goes on, “Dinah went abroad to look about her; but, if she had looked about her as she ought, she would not have fallen into this snare. ote, The beginning of sin is as the letting forth of water. How great a matter does a little fire kindle! We should therefore carefully avoid all occasions of sin and approaches to it.” It seems almost impossible to avoid putting some blame on the victim of rape. It is true what Henry says, and yet it leads to such subjective judgments as to the level of responsibility for the abuse. Did Dinah do something, or dress in such a way that she stimulated the abuse? Did she walk or talk in a seductive way to motivate Shechem in his sexual attack? There are endless speculations about the level of blame, but the only objective fact that we have here is that Shechem was a lust filled youth, and he wanted sex with Dinah, and he took it. All other motivations are not relevant in this rape, for he alone is the primary cause for what took place. There are girls who provoke sexual lust in men by their dress and manners, but the bottom line is this: the one who is the aggressor , and who, for whatever reason, takes any female against her will for sex, is the guilty party, and he alone is responsible for the rape. It is not that the victim is not guilty of evil as well if they are provoking the potentiality of rape, but they have not made the choice to give their body to be used. If they do, then it is not rape. Rape is sex that is unwanted and resisted. In the case of Dinah we really do not know her state of mind, for there is not a word from her in the whole account, and so speculation can go either way. If she wanted sex with this boy, then she is the most guilty of all for the mass murder, for she kept silent, and let her brothers kill innocent men. The text, however, puts all blame on the brothers for their uncontrolled anger. 8. Keith Krell, “Was Dinah naive, rebellious, or just plain ignorant of the ways of the world? Why was it so important that she get to know the women of the land, and why didn’t her mother advise her and somebody dependable accompany her on her sightseeing trip? (Her brothers were out in the field with the flocks.) Where are her parents? Where is Jacob? They know that Shechem is a corrupt and godless place. How could they allow their teenage daughter to wander the streets of such a wicked city? Jacob was a man of compromise. He should not have been tarrying in this pagan neighborhood and deliberately endangering his family. He should have been at Bethel leading them closer to the Lord. If Jacob had fully obeyed God and traveled to Bethel instead of stopping short in Shechem, this would not have happened.” 9. Dr. Robert Rayburn, “The chapter begins with Dinah failing to keep a proper separation between herself and the pagan world around her. That was her father's fault for not seeing to her life and her needs. The impression one gets is that Dinah was looking for her happiness because her father was paying no attention to it. And that is what we see throughout. What is genuinely astonishing in this narrative is that Jacob is never seen to register any emotion over Dinah's disgrace. He never cared for Leah and he didn't care nearly so much for her children as for Rachel's. That will become still more obvious as we get into the history of Joseph. At the end of the chapter, the only concern Jacob expressed was for himself, that the actions of his sons might bring trouble down upon their father's head. This sordid, sorry episode is all a consequence of an uncaring, irresponsible father. And, so sad to say, that father is Jacob, fresh from Peniel.” 2 When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, the ruler of that area, saw her, he took her and violated her. 1. The implication is that this was a rape, for having sex is not called violation if the couple are both consenting to the sexual activity. How often does it happen that young women going for a walk alone get into this kind of attack? It is often, and it makes you wonder why females walk alone so often. So many times they have no choice because they work late or at unusual hours, and they have to walk to their cars alone. It is high risk for any female to be walking alone at night, and especially if it is a regular pattern that can be observed by an attacker. This could have been the case with Dinah, and Shechem had his eye on her for some time. 2. Guzik quotes two authors, "Unattached young women were considered fair game in cities of the time, in which promiscuity was not only common but, in fact, a part of the very religious system itself." (Morris) "This occurrence serves to illustrate the low standard of morals prevalent among the Canaanites. Any unattended female could be raped, and in the transactions that ensue neither father nor son feel the need of apologizing for or excusing what had been committed." (Leupold) 3. In the light of such knowledge as in the previous quotes, which the parents of Dinah had to be aware, it was negligence on their part that led to this rape. On the other hand, how can any parent know what their children are doing all the time? Most of us could tell of things we did as young people that our parents never knew, and so commentators are probably too severe in their judgment and blame of the parents. They were guilty to be sure, but just as most parents are, but most feel the risks are better than making their children prisoners in their own home. Every rape is due to risk taking that might have been avoided, but it is wrong to focus blame on anyone but the one who chooses to take advantage of the mistakes of others and commit the evil deed. All too often blame is put on the victims and not on the culprit who chooses to rape. 4. Dr. S. Lewis Johnson Jr., “Dinah from the chronology of this account appears to have been a young girl of about 13 to 15 years of age but mature. In the East, in those days, the ladies matured much more quickly than they do in the West today. The results are what one might have expected. One of the commentators describes it very vividly. He says, “Poor girl, a moth fluttering about a flame, a foolish fish nibbling at the bait. Was she lonely being the only girl that she wants to show off some piece of jewelry or dress, did she long for more admiration, a fascinating society than she could find at home? Was there a secret drawing to the young men of the place? She went along a path that seemed to her girlish fancy ever so much more attractive than the dull routine of home. She took no heed to the warnings that may have been addressed to her and it all ended as it has ended in thousands of cases since in misery, ruin, and unutterable disgrace.” That is something that still happens today. That not only happens in the world. That is common in the world. It happens in evangelical circles. It even happens in evangelical churches where the gospel is preached very strongly and powerfully, and it even happens in churches where the sovereign grace of God is proclaimed.” 5. Johnson goes on, “It was the old, old story of, on the one hand, a young man of rank, wealth, unbridled appetite and on the other beauty, weakness, dallying with temptation; whose fault was it? Well, of course, it was Shechem’s fault and of course it was Dinah’s fault but it was also Jacob’s fault. Jacob should never have been near that city. He should have been in Bethel. It is not surprising that that happened here and I would imagine that Jacob forever reproached himself because of this and later on, in the 49th chapter, he speaks about Simeon and Levi and speaks about the violent deed that was brought about by virtue of this whole situation.” 6. There are many speculations about what happened, and they are speculations because we have no details. One unknown author wrote, “"He SEDUCED HER" Dinah is probably about 13 or 14 years old by this time. Whether she was raped or seduced we cannot be sure from the text. She was the daughter of Jacob, he was the son of the chief of the city (a prince if you will). It could very well be that he "swept her off her feet" and convinced her that it really didn't matter and that what was really important was that they love each other and practice safe sex. It could be that Shechem really thought he was commiting no crime--no sin--besides they weren't hurting anyone!! It may well be that Dinah gave in.” 7. Susanne Scholz, “The third verb, “to rape” (hn(, pi.), has posed many problems for translators. For instance, none of the standard English Bible versions translate the verb as “he raped her”. The King James Bible translates the verse: “He took her, and lay with her, and defiled her.” The more recent ew Revised Standard Version and the Tenakh write: “He seized her and lay with her by force.” Some scholars justify this translation. They argue that the verb in Hebrew does not mean “to rape” because Hebrew does not have a specific word for this action. [12] However, classical reference books indicate that the verb signifies an act of violence. Mandelkern’s concordance translates the Hebrew into the Latin equivalent “opprimere, vim affere”, which refers to violent and oppressive action. The English dictionary of biblical Hebrew, edited by Francis Brown, S. R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs, translates the verb as “1. humble, mishandle, afflict; 2. humble, a woman by cohabitation; 3. afflict; 4. humble, weaken”. Wilhelm Gesenius’ dictionary provides the most direct translation: “to weaken a woman, through rape”. [13] Thus, the classic reference books support that the verb describes a form of violent interaction, including rape. Interestingly enough, the verb is sometimes translated as “to rape” in other biblical passages. For example, the RSV translates Lamentations 5:11: “Women are raped in Zion.” Additionally, all major commentaries emphasize that Amnon raped Tamar in 2 Samuel 13:14. [14] Also Erhard Gerstenberger’s word analysis supports the translation of “to rape”. He states that the verb describes “unjust situations”, “the creation of a miserable situation”, and “physical or psychological violence” 3 His heart was drawn to Dinah daughter of Jacob, and he loved the girl and spoke tenderly to her. 1. There is a radically different spirit of the rapist here compared with the rape of Tamar by Amnon. He hated her after sex, and told her to get lost, and out of his life. Here there is support for the rapist to have true affection for his victim. He spoke to her like a lover, and obviously felt very loving and tender toward her. The fact that he spoke at all indicates that they got to know each other after the sexual tension had been satisfied. Most rapist just run off leaving the girl to care for herself, but he seems to have stayed with her to talk, and we do not hear of any screaming from Dinah, so she may have entered into conversation with him as well. 2. Calvin, “Moses intimates that she was not so forcibly violated, that Shechem having once abused her, treated her with contempt, as is usual with harlots; for he loved her as a wife; and did not even object to be circumcised that he might have her; but the fervor of lust had so prevailed, that he first subjected her to disgrace. And therefore although he embraced Dinah with real and sincere attachment, yet, in this want of self-government, he grievously sinned. Shechem “spoke to the heart” of the maid, that is, he addressed her courteously, to allure her to himself by his bland speeches: whence it follows, that when she was unwilling and resisted, he used violence towards her.” 3. Gill, “His inclination was to her, she was always in his thoughts; it was not a mere lustful desire that was suddenly raised, and soon over, but a constant and continued affection he bore to her, as follows: and he loved the damsel; sincerely and heartily: and spake kindly unto the damsel; or "to the heart" F7 of her, such things as tended to comfort her, she being sad and sorrowful; or to soften her mind towards him, and take off the resentment of it to him, because of the injury he had done her, and to gain her good will and affection, and her consent to marry him; professing great love to her, promising her great things, what worldly grandeur and honour she would be advanced to, and how kindly he would behave towards her; which might take with her, and incline her to yield to his motion, which having obtained, he took the following method.” 4 And Shechem said to his father Hamor, "Get me this girl as my wife." 1. Calvin, “In this place it is more clearly expressed, that Shechem desired to have Dinah for his wife; for his lust was not so unbridled, that when he had defiled, he despised her. Besides, a laudable modesty is shown, since he pays deference to the will of his father; for he does not attempt to form a contract of marriage of his own mind, but leaves this to his father’s authority. For though he had basely fallen through the precipitate ardor of lust; yet now returning to himself, he follows the guidance of nature. So much the more ought young men to take heed to themselves, lest in the slippery period of their age, the lusts of the flesh should impel them to many crimes. For, at this day, greater license everywhere prevails, so that no moderation restrains youths from shameful conduct.” 2. Gill, “And Shechem spake unto his father Hamor… And told him the whole affair, at least what a strong affection he had for Dinah: saying, get me this damsel to wife; by which he meant not only that he would give his consent that he might marry her, but that he would get her parents' consent unto it, and settle the matter with them; by which it appears how early, and that even among Heathen nations, consent of parents on both sides was judged necessary to marriage. It seems by this as if Dinah was now detained in the house of Hamor or Shechem, and was upon the spot, or near at hand, when Shechem addressed his father about her, see (Genesis 34:26) .” 5 When Jacob heard that his daughter Dinah had been defiled, his sons were in the fields with his livestock; so he kept quiet about it until they came home. 1. Jacob was just being cautious in his shock and grief, for had he gone off in anger to confront the man who did this, he could have provoked a fight that would leave him at a great disadvantage being alone with none of his boys at hand to help him. He suffered in silence until he had backup. This is the positive spin on it, but there is another perspective as we see below. 1B. Coty Pinckney says, “Excuse me? He didn’t SE D someone to his sons immediately? He didn’t try to gather his adult sons together – they are now between the ages of 16 and 23 – and take counsel, and decide together how do deal with this situation? Jacob seems to have become so used to delaying that he just waits for his sons to come home. He shows no leadership, not even any concern for his captive, defiled daughter.” 1C. Scott Grant, “Later, when Jacob assumes that his son Joseph is dead, he “mourned for his son for many days,” he “refused to be comforted,” he expected to mourn for the rest of his life and he wept (Genesis 37:34-35). Jacob, if he were to lose his son Benjamin, also envisioned mourning until his death (Genesis 42:38). Why is Jacob so concerned for these two sons and not for his daughter? Joseph and Benjamin were the only children born to Rachel, his favorite wife, so he favored them. Jacob was less inclined toward Leah and, therefore, his daughter by her.” 2. Jamison, “Jacob, as a father and a good man, must have been deeply distressed. But he could do little. In the case of a family by different wives, it is not the father, but the full brothers, on whom the protection of the daughters devolves--they are the guardians of a sister's welfare and the avengers of her wrongs. It was for this reason that Simeon and Levi, the two brothers of Dinah by Leah [Ge 34:25], appear the chief actors in this episode; and though the two fathers would have probably brought about an amicable arrangement of the affair, the hasty arrival of these enraged brothers introduced a new element into the negotiations.” 3. Gill, “and Jacob held his peace until they were come; neither murmuring at the providence, but patiently bearing the chastisement; nor reflecting upon Leah for letting Dinah go out, or not keeping a proper watch over her; nor saying anything of it to any in the family; nor expressing his displeasure at Shechem, nor vowing revenge on him for it, nor taking any step towards it until his sons were come home from the field; with whom he chose to advise, and whose assistance he would want, if it was judged necessary to use force to get Dinah out of the hands of Shechem, or to avenge the injury done her.” 4. Keith Krell, “In keeping silent, Jacob was the precursor for another biblical character. When King David’s daughter, Tamar, was raped, David was furious. However, like Jacob he also did nothing (2 Sam 13:20-21). Consequently, his son Absalom took matters into his own hands and inappropriately poured out his wrath (2 Sam 13:22). Likewise, instead of taking control of a dangerous situation, Jacob let Dinah’s brothers handle things. Jacob’s refusal to do what was right in this situation not only allowed evil to triumph, but also created an enormous leadership vacuum in the family, which was immediately and sinfully filled by his angry sons. Edmond Burke once said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” 6 Then Shechem's father Hamor went out to talk with Jacob. 1. Scott Grant, “ otice how the story places Hamor, the pagan father of Shechem, in a better light than Jacob, the Hebrew father of Dinah. Hamor at least is a man of action. Jacob does nothing for his daughter. When Dinah was raped, Jacob should have gone to Hamor, but instead, he waits until Hamor comes to him.” 1B. Henry, “ Hamor came to treat with Jacob himself, but he turns him over to his sons; and here we have a particular account of the treaty, in which, it is a shame to say, the Canaanites were more honest than the Israelites. 2. We tend to assume that pagans will never be superior to the people of God, but the Bible does not support this illusion. It is possible for pagans to be superior to god's people in many ways, for God's people are still sinners, and they often do not obey his Word, and the pagans do what is right because they have values much like the will of God for his people, and they do live by them, at least in part. At any one moment a pagan may be a better person than the child of God he is dealing with on some moral issue. 3. Robert Candlish in his classical commentary on Genesis wrote, “ Hence partly, or rather chiefly, the sad contrast which here once more appears, between the goodness of mere nature, in its kindlier mood, and the evil of grace, — or gracious privilege and gracious profession, — perverted and abused. For, as between the two parties brought together in this transaction, the Hivites and the Israelites, — the prince and people of the land, and the prince and people of the Lord, — who can hesitate to say on which side the preponderance of right and amiable feeling lies 1 If only such allowance as the manners of the world ask is made for the young man's sin at first, what is there in the narrative that does not redound to his credit ? Instead of despising and hating his victim, — as is too often the case in such circumstances as his, — he continues to be attached to her more than ever. It is simply and touchingly told that " his soul clave to Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the damsel, and spake kindly unto the damsel" (ver. 3). He is most anxious to repair the injury he has done to her ; nothing will content him but honorable marriage. In spite of the fault in which he has been overtaken, — and which he is so willing, as far as j^ossible, to undo, — all our sympathy now is with the generous and faithful lover. His father too we cannot but admire. His frank consent to his son's proposal, when he says, " Get me this damsel to wife" (ver. 4), and his earnest appeal on his son's behalf to Jacob and his household, " The soul of my son Shechem longeth for your daughter: I pray you to give her him to wife" (ver. 8), bring this Hivite king before us in an aspect very pleasing. or can we put any other than an honest and generous construction on the larger overtures which he goes on to make, for a permanent friendly union between the two houses (ver. 9, 10). Let this matrimonial treaty, — this union of my son with your daughter, — be the auspicious inauguration of prosperous and peaceful times for both our tribes. It is in good faith, we cannot doubt, and with all his heart, that the chief holds out thus frankly the right hand of fellowship. And it is a conclusive proof of his own and his father's earnestness that Shechem gives, when he hastens to add, — speaking " unto her father and unto her brethren," — "Let me find grace in your eyes, and what ye shall say unto me I will give. Ask me never so much dowry and gift, and I will give according as ye shall say unto me : but give me the damsel to wife" We need have no scruple in allowing ourselves to be charmed with so artless and touching a picture of love and honor. It is 2rood to mark the traces of his fair-minded and amiable feeling among those who are still children of nature merely. We cannot but be drawn towards such characters, although they may be nothing more than earthly and worldly after all ; and we cannot but on that account be all the more grieved that dispositions so genial and upright as those manifested by these Hivite princes, were not met far otherwise than they were on the part of the family that should have proved itself to be the Church of the living God. Surely the advances so honorably made by these mere men of the world should have been differently received by men who were professedly the Lord's people. Either they should have been courteously declined, and the reasons for declining them faithfully and kindly stated, so as to impress the heathen with a sense of the sacredness of the chosen family, and the blessing that was ultimately to come to all nations through its being kept separate, in the meantime, and apart. Or else, if it had been considered lawful to entertain these advances favorably, the terms of alliance might have been deliberately adjusted, and its pledges ought to have been scrupulously kept. If one or other of these courses had been adopted in good feeling and good faith, who shall say what impression might have been made on these noble-minded chiefs and on their nation. — and what an influence for good might have been exerted on the whole of the ungodly world, in the midst of which the chosen ones were sojourning 1 Alas ! that so precious an occasion should have been lost, — so favorable an opportunity thrown away !” 7 ow Jacob's sons had come in from the fields as soon as they heard what had happened. They were filled with grief and fury, because Shechem had done a disgraceful thing in [a] Israel by lying with Jacob's daughter—a thing that should not be done. 1. Constable, “Moses used the name "Israel" here for the first time as a reference to God's chosen people (v. 7). The family of Jacob had a special relationship to God by divine calling reflected in the name "Israel" (prince with God). Therefore Shechem's act was an especially "disgraceful thing" having been committed against a member of the family with the unique vocation (cf. Deut. 22:21; Josh. 7:15; Judg. 20:10; 2 Sam. 13:12; et al.). "What had happened to Dinah was considered by Jacob's family to be of the same nature as what later was known as 'a disgraceful thing in Israel' [i.e., rape]."828 As was customary in their culture, Jacob's sons took an active part in approving their sister's marriage (v. 13; cf. 24:50). They were correct in opposing the end in view: the mixing of the chosen seed with the seed of the Canaanites. Yet they were wrong in adopting the means they selected to achieve their end. In their deception they show themselves to be "chips off the old block," Jacob.” 8 But Hamor said to them, "My son Shechem has his heart set on your daughter. Please give her to him as his wife. 1. Gill, “And Hamor communed with them… With Jacob and his sons, who came in just at that time: saying, the soul of my son Shechem longeth for your daughter: the daughter of the family, and the only daughter in it; for her Shechem had a vehement affection, a strong desire to marry her, and could not be satisfied without her: I pray you, give her him to wife; he not only requests the consent of the parents of the damsel, but of her brothers also, which in those times and countries seems to have been usual to ask and have, see (Genesis 24:50,51,55,59).” 2. Calvin, “Though the sons of Jacob were justly incensed, yet their indignation ought to have been appeased, or at least somewhat mitigated, by the great courteousness of Hamor. And if the humanity of Hamor could not reconcile the sons of Jacob to Shechem, the old man himself was indeed worthy of a benignant reception. We see what equitable conditions he offers; he himself was the prince of the city, the sons of Jacob were strangers. Therefore their minds must have been savage beyond measure, not to be inclined to levity. Besides, the suppliant entreaty of Shechem himself deserved this, that they should have granted forgiveness to his fervent love. Therefore, that they remained implacable, is a sign of most cruel pride. What would they have done to enemies who had purposely injured them, when they are not moved by the prayers of him, who, being deceived by blind love, and by the error of incontinence, has injured them without any malicious intention?” 9 Intermarry with us; give us your daughters and take our daughters for yourselves. 1. Gill, “And make ye marriages with us… There was no objection on their side, it lay on the other; Abraham's servant was charged by him not to take a wife of the Canaanites to his son Isaac; and the same charge was given Jacob by Isaac, (Genesis 24:3) (28:1) ; and therefore Jacob would never agree that his children should marry any of that nation; and marriages with them were afterwards forbidden by the law of Moses, (Deuteronomy 7:3) ; [and] give your daughters unto us, and take our daughters unto you; for though at present there were no other daughters in Jacob's family, yet there might be hereafter; and the request is, that for the future there might be intermarriages between them, as would be practicable in a course of time.” 10 You can settle among us; the land is open to you. Live in it, trade [b] in it, and acquire property in it." 1. Gill, “And ye shall dwell with us… . Peaceably and quietly, not as sojourners only, but as inhabitants: and the land shall be before you; to choose what part of it they pleased to dwell in, and which they should have in their own power and possession: dwell and trade you therein; in any sort of traffic and commerce the land would admit of, and they should best choose: and get you possessions therein; buy houses and land, and enjoy them, they and their posterity; these are the arguments used by Hamor to gain the consent of Jacob and his family that his son might marry Dinah; and the proposals are honourable and generous.” 11 Then Shechem said to Dinah's father and brothers, "Let me find favor in your eyes, and I will give you whatever you ask. 1. Gill, “And Shechem said unto her father and unto her brethren… To the father and brethren of Dinah; he addressed them after his father Hamor had done speaking: let me find grace in your eyes; forgive the offense committed, the injury done to Dinah, and grant the request of her marriage, and it will be considered as a great favor: and what ye shall say unto me, I will give; to her, to her parents, to her brethren and relations; let what will be fixed, shall be given; which showed great affection for her, and that he was willing to do any thing to make amends for the injury done; he cared not what it was that might be demanded of him, so be it that she became his wife.” 2. Parry, Robin, “Shechem is presented in a complex fashion, so that even though he commits a heinous crime when he rapes Dinah, 34:3, which avers his great love for her, softens the negative judgment against him (pace Scholz); and that, from the biblical point of view, marriage to the rapist is a lesser evil for the victim (again, pace Scholz), for all that modern readers are horrified by the idea of a woman’s marrying her attacker. I should add that even in modern times, in societies that practice abduction-marriage and the abductor rapes his prey, in most cases the latter chooses to marry her kidnapper-rapist” 12 Make the price for the bride and the gift I am to bring as great as you like, and I'll pay whatever you ask me. Only give me the girl as my wife." 1. That must have been some sexual experience to motivate this young man to be willing to make any sacrifice in order to have Dinah for his wife. This makes you wonder if their was more to their relationship than that rape experience. Or maybe the tender talk referred to want on for a long time, and Dinah was in agreement with him that they had a strong mutual attraction. 2. Wenham, “"Marriage was always preceded by betrothal, in which the bridegroom's family paid a mhd 'marriage present' to the bride's family (1 Sam 18:25). In cases of premarital intercourse, this still had to be paid to legitimize the union, and the girl's father was allowed to fix the size of the marriage present (Exod 22:15-16 [16-17]; limited by Deut 22:29 to a maximum of fifty shekels). . . . Here it seems likely that Shechem is offering both a 'marriage present' to Jacob and 'a gift' to Dinah." 3. Gill, “Ask me never so much dowry and gift… Or "multiply [them] exceedingly" F9, fix them at as high a rate as may be thought fit; the "dowry" was what a man gave to a woman at her marriage; for in those times and countries, instead of a man having a portion with his wife, as with us in our times, he gave one to his wife, or to her parents for her; and especially in after times this was used, and became a law in Israel, in the case of a vitiated virgin, see (Exodus 22:16,17) ; and "the gift" was either of jewels and clothes to the women, or of such like precious things to her brethren and friends, see (Genesis 24:53) ; and I will give according as ye shall say unto me; determine among yourselves whatever shall be the dowry and gift, and it shall be punctually observed: but give me the damsel to wife; only agree to that, and I care not what is required of me.” 4. R. C. Sproul, “When we read the Mosaic law, we often find some of its regulations quite baffling. Take Deuteronomy 22:28–29, for example. This passage orders a man who rapes an unmarried virgin to marry her, hardly a custom we find in today’s society. However, this teaching is not a cruel injunction designed to have the wife bitterly remember the violation of her body and soul. In fact, this law protects the woman. During the period in which Moses lived and wrote about, women were extremely vulnerable members of their society. They could not hope to survive if they were unmarried non-virgins, for only those who were virgins could expect to find a husband. A woman who had been raped was therefore considered untouchable in most places, but the Mosaic law protects the victim by prescribing marriage to her attacker. In this way, the Lord guarded the woman from any further economic or social harm. In Genesis, those outside the covenant family often act “more righteously” than the sons of Abraham (chap. 20), and this episode is a demonstration of this truth once again. In seeking to marry Dinah and shield her from further harm (34:2–4), her rapist Shechem is more concerned to do the right thing than Jacob, who remains silent about the attack in today’s passage (vv. 5–6). Presumably, Jacob agrees to the marriage, but there is no record of his anger towards Shechem for assaulting his daughter. This silence is deafening and shows how little the patriarch cared for this child.” 13 Because their sister Dinah had been defiled, Jacob's sons replied deceitfully as they spoke to Shechem and his father Hamor. 1. Calvin, “The commencement of their perfidious course is here related: for they, being outrageous rather than simply angry, wish to overthrow the whole city, and not being sufficiently strong to contend against so great a number of people, they contrive a new fraud, in order that they may suddenly rise upon the inhabitants weakened by wounds. Therefore, since the Shechemites had no strength to resist, it became a cruel butchery rather than a conquest, which increased the atrocity of wickedness in Jacob’s sons, who cared for nothing so that they might but gratify their rage. They allege in excuse, that, whereas they were separated from other nations, it was not lawful for them to give wives of their own family to the uncircumcised. Which indeed was true if they said it sincerely; but they falsely use the sacred name of God as a pretext; yea, their double profanation of that name proves them to be doubly sacrilegious; for they cared nothing about circumcision, but were intent on this one thing, how they might crush the miserable men in a state of weakness. Besides, they wickedly sever the sign from the truth which it represents; as if any one, by laying aside his uncircumcision, might suddenly pass over into the Church of God. And in this mode they pollute the spiritual symbol of life, by admitting foreigners, promiscuously and without discrimination, into its society. But since their pretense has some color of probability, we must observe what they say, that it would be disgraceful to them to give their sister to a man uncircumcised. This also is true, if they who used the words were sincere; for since they bore the mark of God in their flesh, it was wicked in them to contract marriages with unbelievers. So also, at the present time, our baptism separates us from the profane, so that whoever mixes himself with them, fixes a mark of infamy upon himself.” 2. Jamison, “The honor of their family consisted in having the sign of the covenant. Circumcision was the external rite by which persons were admitted members of the ancient Church. But that outward rite could not make the Shechemites true Israelites; and yet it does not appear that Jacob's sons required anything more. othing is said of their teaching the people to worship the true God, but only of their insisting on their being circumcised; and it is evident that they did not seek to convert Shechem, but only made a show of religion--a cloak to cover their diabolical design. Hypocrisy and deceit, in all cases vicious, are infinitely more so when accompanied with a show of religion; and here the sons of Jacob, under the pretense of conscientious scruples, conceal a scheme of treachery as cruel and diabolical as was, perhaps, ever perpetrated.” 3. Gill, “And the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor deceitfully, &c.] Proposing the marriage of their sister on terms after mentioned, when they never intended it should ever be: Onkelos, Jonathan, and Jarchi interpret it, "with wisdom", as if they answered wisely and prudently, but the word is never used in a good sense; and if it was wisdom, it was carnal wisdom and wicked cunning, and was disapproved of by plain hearted Jacob: and said: or spoke in this deceitful manner: because he had defiled Dinah their sister; and therefore were filled with indignation at him, and fired with resentment against him, and vowed within themselves revenge upon him.” 4. R. C. Sproul, “Were it not for Genesis 34:13, we might believe Jacob’s sons were making their proposition in good faith, even “evangelizing” these men in hopes of their full spiritual restoration. o such motivation is evident. In fact, the sons will use the demand for circumcision to deceive Hamor and Shechem and exact vengeance upon these Canaanites (vv. 18–29). They will take the covenant sign, a holy seal that indicated a separation from the world as well as a dedication to the Lord, and profane it. These brothers are intent on cutting off from life those who would receive it instead of cutting these pagans apart from the world to embrace God’s abundant blessings.” 5. Keith Krell, “Moses says, the boys answered “with deceit.” ow, where do you suppose these sons learned how to be so deceitful? Deceit has been a problem in the patriarchal family right from the very start. Deceit runs deep in this family, and nobody knows it better than Jacob. And now his sons are just “chips off the old block.” Hence, the description “Jacob’s sons” rather than “Dinah’s brothers.” The sons are just following in their father’s deceitful footsteps (34:13).” 14 They said to them, "We can't do such a thing; we can't give our sister to a man who is not circumcised. That would be a disgrace to us. 1. Gill, “And they said unto them… Levi and Simeon, to Hamor and Shechem: we cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one that is uncircumcised; not that there was any law against it at that time; and there were, on the other hand, precedents for it both in Isaac and Jacob, who had married the daughters of uncircumcised persons; nor indeed do they plead any law, only that it was not becoming their character, nor agreeably to their religion, nor honourable in their esteem: for that [were] a reproach unto us; and they should be reflected upon for slighting the institution of circumcision, which was of God: so they pretend it might be interpreted, should they enter into affinity with uncircumcised persons.” 15 We will give our consent to you on one condition only: that you become like us by circumcising all your males. 1. These brothers were evil on so many different levels. They are telling outright lies to deceive these people, and they are using what was a part of their covenant with God to trick them into a state where they could be easily killed. It was all premeditated murder of the worst kind. It was all total hypocrisy, and they had no intention of keeping any part of their promise. 2. Henry, “Jacob's sons basely pretend to insist upon a coalition in religion, when really they designed nothing less. If Jacob had taken the management of this affair into his own hands, it is probable that he and Hamor would soon have concluded it; but Jacob's sons meditate only revenge, and a strange project they have for the compassing of it--the Shechemites must be circumcised; not to make them holy (they never intended that), but to make them sore, that they might become an easier prey to their sword.” 3. Henry goes on, “Had they been sincere herein their proposal of these terms would have had in it something commendable; for Israelites should not intermarry with Canaanites, professors with profane; it is a great sin, or at least the cause and inlet of a great deal, and has often been of pernicious consequence. The interest we have in any persons, and the hold we have of them, should be wisely improved by us, to bring them to the love and practice of religion (He that winneth souls is wise); but then we must not, like Jacob's sons, think it enough to persuade them to submit to the external rites of religion, but must endeavour to convince them of its reasonableness, and to bring them acquainted with the power of it. 2. The intention was malicious, as appears by the sequel of the story; all they aimed at was to prepare them for the day of slaughter. ote, Bloody designs have often been covered, and carried on, with a pretence of religion; thus they have been accomplished most plausibly and most securely: but this dissembled piety is, doubtless, double iniquity. Religion is never more injured, nor are God's sacraments more profaned, than when they are thus used for a cloak of maliciousness. ay, if Jacob's sons had not had this bloody design, I do not see how they could justify their offering the sacred sign of circumcision, the seal of God's covenant, to these devoted Canaanites, who had no part nor lot in the matter. Those had no right to the seal that had no right to the promise. It is not meet to take the children's bread, and cast it to dogs: but Jacob's sons valued not this, while they could make it serve their turn.” 4. Gospel Chapel Ministries, “Do you know what the covenant of circumcision stands for? To understand the blasphemy that this brings upon the church, we have to understand what circumcision is. Circumcision was given to Abraham as the sign and seal of the righteousness of the faith. Righteousness means obedience, conformity of life to the Divine Law. They are going to enter into a circumcision covenant with the world - the very thing from which circumcision was to separate them. That is what the covenant of circumcision was for: to put a hedge around the house of God that no person was allowed to enter uncircumcised. The covenant of circumcision was a separation; it was the hedge that was placed around the Church to separate them from the world.” To use this symbol of separation from the world to entice the world to be one with them was a joke to these sons of Jacob, but it was spiritual abuse for which they ought to be judged. 16 Then we will give you our daughters and take your daughters for ourselves. We'll settle among you and become one people with you. 1. Gill, “Then will we give our daughters unto you… Meaning Dinah, whom they call their daughter, (Genesis 34:17) ; because she was the daughter of their family, and because they were entreating in the name of their father, and in conformity to the language used by those they were treating with, (Genesis 34:9) ; and we will take your daughters to us; in marriage for wives: and we will dwell with you; not as sojourners but as fellow citizens: and we will become one people; being so nearly related by marriage, and professing one religion, alike submitting to circumcision, which was the distinguished badge of Abraham's seed.” 2. Coty Pinckney, “Think about that tactic: Circumcision is the precious sign of the covenant that God gave to Abraham and his household. In using this sign as a tool for revenge, Jacob’s sons are despising their birthright as effectively as Esau despised his when he sold it to Jacob for a bowl of lentil stew.” 3. Keith Krell, “Here, Jacob’s sons play the religion card. Few sons are more despicable than pressing the sacred into service for profane use. But Simeon and Levi, feeling justified by the violation against Dinah, prostituted the symbol of God’s covenant in order to take advantage of the men of Shechem. However, Jacob’s silence is even more evil than his sons’ schemes. His sons proposed intermarriage with the Canaanites only as a means to induce them to be circumcised so that they could be overcome more easily. Jacob silently and passively accepted the agreement with the people of Shechem, fully expecting to carry it out. Jacob planned to allow his descendants to intermarry with the Canaanites, but his sons had no such intention. Jacob, in comparison with his sons, is even guiltier than they! Jacob’s willingness to intermarry with the Canaanites is not only contrary to the purposes and promises of God in the Abrahamic covenant, but it is also a direct violation of the instructions, which his father had given him (28:1-4). Compromise can be deadly!” 17 But if you will not agree to be circumcised, we'll take our sister [c] and go." 1. Clarke, “It is natural to suppose that the tribe of Hamor was very inconsiderable, else they would not have sought an alliance with the family of Jacob, and have come so readily into a painful, disgraceful measure, without having either the sanction of Divine authority or reason; for it does not appear that the sons of Jacob urged either. And they are threatened here that if they do not agree to be circumcised, Dinah shall be taken from them, and restored to her family; and this is probably what the Shechemites saw they had not power at present to prevent.” 1B. Isaac Sachs, “..the fact that they threatened to have Dinah removed from Shechem’s house during the negotiations (Genesis 34:17), implies that she was there as guest, not as a hostage!” 2. Robert Candlish, “ That Jacob was privy, or was consenting, to the horrid plot by which her brothers avenged Dinah's fall, cannot for a moment be imagined. The idea is contradicted by all we know of Jacob's general character, as well as by the express terms of the narrative. But he erred greatly in leaving the matter too much in the hands of his sons, — committing the whole negotiation to them, and allowing them to have their own way. He might have known them better than to trust them so implicitly. He ought to have transacted the business himself ; if he had, the foul crime could not have been committed. But he has let go the reins of government in his own house ; — his sons have evidently got the upper hand. Hence they are in a position to concoct their vile stratagem without his knowledge, and to carry it into bloody execution without his being able to prevent them. Their device is very base ; doubly so because it is in the name of religion that it is practiced. Religion ! Much wronged, deeply insulted, religion ! What frauds, what foul abominations, what unutterable cruelties, art thou not invoked to cover ! And the true religion too ! the religion of the one only living and true God ! With what smooth hypocrisy do these villains propound their nice scruple of conscience !” 3. Leupold, “these terms and conditions are attributed to "the sons of Jacob" exclusively. There is the possibility that after the transactions were under way Jacob retired in the great grief of his heart and trusted that his sons would well be able to handle the case. It is quite certain that they kept their father in the dark both in regard to their original demand as well as in regard to their further purpose.” 18 Their proposal seemed good to Hamor and his son Shechem. 1. Constable quotes others, “We can explain the agreement of the men of the city, including Hamor and Shechem (v. 18), to undergo circumcision. Other nations besides Jacob's family practiced this rite at this time as an act of consecration. Jacob was not suggesting that these men convert from one religion to another. ormally circumcision was practiced on adults rather than on infants before God told Abraham to circumcise the infants born in his family (17:12-14).” 2. Gill, “The condition proposed was acceptable to them both, and they agreed to comply with it; Hamor, because of the great love he had for his son; Shechem, because of the great love he had for Dinah.” 3. Henry, “To this perhaps they were moved, not only by the strong desire they had to bring about this match, but by what they might have heard of the sacred and honourable intentions of this sign, in the family of Abraham, which, it is probable, they had some confused notions of, and of the promises confirmed by it, which made them the more desirous to incorporate with the family of Jacob, Zechariah 8:23. ote, Many who know little of religion, yet know so much of it as makes them willing to join themselves with those that are religious. Again, If a man would take upon him a form of religion to gain a good wife, much more should we embrace the power of it to gain the favour of a good God, even circumcise our hearts to love him, and, as Shechem here, not defer to do the thing.” 19 The young man, who was the most honored of all his father's household, lost no time in doing what they said, because he was delighted with Jacob's daughter. 1. This young man was truly hooked, for he was willing to do anything to have Dinah. He was ready to cut himself and endure pain for some time in a very sensitive area to be in full cooperation with the demands of Dinah's brothers. 2. Gill, “And the young man deferred not to do the thing… To be circumcised himself, and to get all the males of the city circumcised; he delayed not a moment, but made all the haste he could to get it accomplished: because he had delight in Jacob's daughter; he really loved her, and delighted in her person and company: it was not the effect of a brutish lust, but a true affection he bore to her, that he desired her in marriage: and he [was] more honourable than all the house of his father; for though he had done a base thing in defiling Jacob's daughter, yet in this he was honourable, that he sought to marry her, and to do any thing that was in his power to recompence the injury; and he was honourable in keeping covenant and compact with men; and was honest, upright, and sincere, to fulfil the condition imposed on him, and he had agreed to, as well as he was in greater esteem among the citizens than any of his father's house, which made it the more easy to him to get their consent to be circumcised; they having a very high and honourable opinion of him, and ready to oblige him in anything they could.” 20 So Hamor and his son Shechem went to the gate of their city to speak to their fellow townsmen. 1. The gate of the city is where all community business was conducted. It was the center of communication in most ancient cities, and we see it frequently in the Bible. Father and son had to convince the rest of the males in the city to go along with the plan that would lead to Shechem getting his wife. 21 "These men are friendly toward us," they said. "Let them live in our land and trade in it; the land has plenty of room for them. We can marry their daughters and they can marry ours. 1. It is a good thing he did not mention that Jacob only had one daughter, and if this vote goes through she is already spoken for. That would be hard to get excited about, but the assumption is that in the long range plan this would provide more females to choose from. 2. Gill, “These men [are] peaceable with us… Meaning Jacob and his sons, pointing to their tents which were near their city; and no doubt more was said than is here expressed, and that these words were introduced with a preface, in which notice was taken of Jacob and his family, and their names mentioned, as here their character is given; that they were men of peaceable dispositions, harmless and inoffensive, as appeared they had been ever since they came into these parts; and there was a great deal of reason to believe they still would be, and which was an argument in their favor, to admit them to a residence among them: therefore let them dwell in the land, and trade therein; give them leave to dwell where they please, and carry on what trade and traffic in the land they think fit; since they are not likely to be quarrelsome and troublesome, but will deal honestly and honorably, and pay duly for what they agree for or merchandise in: for the land, behold, [it is] large enough for them; there is room enough for them to dwell in, and pasturage enough for their cattle, and land enough to manure and till, without in the least incommoding the inhabitants: yea, it is likely to be to their advantage, since they would pay for what they should purchase or hire, and would improve the land which lay uncultivated: let us take their daughters to us for wives, and let us give them our daughters; this was the thing principally aimed at; and the rest, both what goes before, and what follows after, were in order to this.” 22 But the men will consent to live with us as one people only on the condition that our males be circumcised, as they themselves are. 1. Clarke, “This required conformity was made the cloak of the most base and infamous designs. The simple unsuspecting Shechemites agreed to the proposal; and when rendered by this religious rite incapable of defending themselves, they were basely murdered by Simeon and Levi, and their city destroyed. Jacob, to his great honor, remonstrated against this barbarous and bloody act, committed apparently under the sanction of religion; and God showed his abhorrence of it by directing the patriarch, in his dying moments, to proscribe them from the blessings of the covenant, so that they barely retained a name among the tribes of Israel, being in general small, and ever disreputable, except merely in the service of the sanctuary, in which Levi was employed.” 2. The circumcision here has nothing to do with their becoming a part of Israel, and being a part of the covenant God made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It was just a way to get them in a state of pain where they could not defend themselves. It was a dirty trick, and had nothing to do with anything sacred. 23 Won't their livestock, their property and all their other animals become ours? So let us give our consent to them, and they will settle among us." 1. Here we see another motive for their cooperation, for they see that they will benefit economically from having these people become one with them. They will in time become incorporated into our community, and in the end we will possess all that they possess. 2. Henry, “They urged an argument which was very cogent (Genesis 34:23), Shall not their cattle and their substance be ours? They observed that Jacob's sons were industrious thriving people, and promised themselves and their neighbours advantage by an alliance with them; it would improve ground and trade, and bring money into their country. ow, [1.] It was bad enough to marry upon this principle: yet we see covetousness the greatest matchmaker in the world, and nothing designed so much, with many, as the laying of house to house, and field to field, without regard had to any other consideration. [2.] It was worse to be circumcised upon this principle. The Shechemites will embrace the religion of Jacob's family only in hopes of interesting themselves thereby in the riches of that family. Thus there are many with whom gain is godliness, and who are more governed and influenced by their secular interest than by any principle of their religion.” 24 All the men who went out of the city gate agreed with Hamor and his son Shechem, and every male in the city was circumcised. 1. Clarke, “These simple people must have had very great affection for their chief and his son, or have been under the influence of the most passive obedience, to have come so readily into this measure, and to have submitted to this rite. But the petty princes in Asiatic countries have ever been absolute and despotic, their subjects paying them the most prompt and blind obedience. I shall give a few examples from Mr. Richardson's Dissertations."Abu Thaher, chief of the Carmathians, about the year nine hundred and thirty, ravaged the territory of Mecca, defiled the temple, and destroyed nearly 40,000 people. With only 500 horse he went to lay siege to Bagdad: the caliph's general, at the head of 30,000 men, marched out to seize him, but before he attacked him he sent an officer to summon him to surrender. 'How many men has the caliph's general?' said Abu Thaher. 'Thirty thousand,' replied the officer. 'Among them all,' says the Carmathian chief, 'has he got three like mine?' Then, ordering his followers to approach, he commanded one to stab himself, another to throw himself from a precipice, and a third to plunge into the Tigris; all three instantly obeyed, and perished. Then turning to the officer, he said, 'He who has such troops needs not value the number of his enemies!'” 2. Calvin recognizes the greed motivating these people in their move to be one with Jacob and his people, but he wrote, “..nevertheless, Simian and Levi were not, on that account, excusable for the indulgence of their own cruelty: yea, their impiety appears the more detestable, because they not only rush impetuously upon men, but, in a sense, trample upon the sacred covenant of God, of which alone they make their boast. Certainly, if they had no feeling for the men themselves, yet reverence for God ought to have restrained their ferocity, when they reflected from what cause the weakness of the Shechemites proceeded.” 3. Keil, “But notwithstanding the advantages here pointed out, the readiness of all the citizens of Shechem (vid., Gen_23:10) to consent to be circumcised, could only be satisfactorily explained from the fact that this religious rite was already customary in different nations (according to Herod. 2, 104, among the Egyptians and Colchians), as an act of religious or priestly consecration.” 25 Three days later, while all of them were still in pain, two of Jacob's sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah's brothers, took their swords and attacked the unsuspecting city, killing every male. 1. This is truly a case of overkill, for there was just one young man who violated their sister, and yet they were so cruel as to kill all of the males for his evil act. There is no logic, nor sense of any kind for this level of hatred. It is one of the worst atrocities in all of Scripture, and it was done by people who were God's people. It reveals that God's people can be the worst of people when they let their emotions rather than the laws of God be their guide to actions. In verse 17 the brothers talked about taking her home if they would not be circumcised, and so she was there all along. You would think that she would be fighting to return to her family if she had any objection to what happened to her. She makes no attempt to escape, and her brothers are right there. She could have said take me home, but she did not. It all implies that Dinah is perfectly content to live with her rapist until the families can work everything out for the marriage of her and her rapist. You have to admit this is an unusually friendly relationship of a rapist and his victim. 1B. "Crudely performed, circumcision could be quite incapacitating, particularly after two or three days." (Kidner) Guzik, “This was not only a brutal, deceptive act, but it also disgraced God's covenant of circumcision. Surely, with this clever act of violent deception, Simeon and Levi show themselves to be the children of Jacob from a bitter, competitive home environment.” 1C. Constable, “Dinah, Simeon, and Levi were the children of Jacob and Leah, the unloved wife (v. 25). Simeon and Levi doubtless felt closer to Dinah than some of her other half-brothers did for this reason. Probably Jacob's indifference to Dinah's plight, evidenced by his lack of action, prompted the violent overreaction of her brothers.” 1D. Leupold, “ One shudders to think of the bloody cruelty that animated these two brothers in their carnal pride. ot a word can be said to excuse these murderers. The account, as Moses offers it, is strictly objective neither commending nor condemning; he trusts his readers to posses sufficient ethical discernment to know how to judge the deed.” 2. “Here we see a lot about two wrongs don't make a right. It was immoral what he did, but the revenge was just as immoral, and so nobody comes out of this smelling like a rose, but more like skunk after a fight. This chapter wreaks with the odor of human depravity. Jacob's boys did what was more cruel and hateful, for lust is normal at least, but to plot murder is not normal. Men can make the pursuit of justice an excuse for doing evil. This is a story of the folly of God's people and these sons did not become the channel to the Messiah.” author unknown 3. Clarke, “When the inflammation was at the height, and a fever ensued which rendered the person utterly helpless, and his state critical, Simeon and Levi, the half brothers of Dinah, took each man his sword, probably assisted by that portion of the servants which helped them to take care of the flock, came on the city boldly, betach, securely-without being suspected, and being in no danger of meeting with resistance, and slew all the males. Great as the provocation was, and it certainly was very great, this was an act or unparalleled treachery and cruelty.” 4. Henry has a shocking comment on the justification of the slaughter of the males in this city. He wrote, “It cannot be denied but that God was righteous in it. Had the Shechemites been circumcised in obedience to any command of God, their circumcision would have been their protection; but when they submitted to that sacred rite only to serve a turn, to please their prince and to enrich themselves, it was just with God to bring this upon them. ote, As nothing secures us better than true religion, so nothing exposes us more than religion only pretended to.” He is the only commentator who finds any justification for this slaughter, and it is a very weak argument I feel, but it may be possible to rationalize this as God's judgment rather than the folly of the brothers. There is no hint of God's approval, but there is a clear hint of the judgment of the brothers as being evil in that Jacob in his dying words cut them off from his blessing. Henry does add, “But Simeon and Levi were most unrighteous.” Henry is trying to have his cake and eat it too, for they are unrighteous is his judgment, but yet they were doing the will of God in killing them for their false motives in having circumcision. Henry in struggling to make sense of this chapter, and in doing so he is trying to spread the blame for it evenly across the board. He also wrote, “It was true that Shechem had wrought folly against Israel, in defiling Dinah; but it ought to have been considered how far Dinah herself had been accessory to it. Had Shechem abused her in her own mother's tent, it would have been another matter; but she went upon his ground, and perhaps by her indecent carriage had struck the spark which began the fire: when we are severe upon the sinner we ought to consider who was the tempter.” The bottom line is this: Henry says that everybody is to blame, and so everybody got just what they deserved. 5. Calvin, “Because Moses says that the slaughter took place on the third day, the Hebrews think that, at that time, the pain of the wound was most severe. The proof, however, is not valid; nor is it of much moment. Although Moses names only two authors of the slaughter, it does not appear to me probable that they came alone, but that they were the leaders of the troop: for Jacob had a large family, and it might be that they called some of their brothers to join them; yet, because the affair was conducted by their counsel and direction, it is ascribed to them, as Cartage is said to have been destroyed by Scipio. Moses also calls them the brothers of Dinah, because they were by the same mother. We have seen that Dinah was the daughter of Leah; for which reason Simon and Levi, whose own sister she was by both parents, were the more enraged at the violation of her chastity: they were therefore impelled, not so much by the common reproach brought upon the holy and elect race, (according to their recent boast,) as by a sense of the infamy brought upon themselves. However, there is no reader who does not readily perceive how dreadful and execrable was this crime. One man only had sinned, and he endeavored to compensate for the injury, by many acts of kindness; but the cruelty of Simon and Levi could only be satiated by the destruction of the whole city; and, under the pretext of a covenant, they form a design against friends and hospitable persons, in a time of peace, which would have been deemed intolerable against enemies in open war. Hence we perceive how mercifully God dealt with that people; seeing that, from the posterity of a sanguinary man, and even of a wicked robber, he raised up a priesthood for himself. Let the Jews now go and be proud of their noble origin. But the Lord declared his gratuitous mercy by too many proofs for the ingratitude of man to be able to obscure it. Moreover, we hence learn that Moses did not speak from carnal sense; but was the instrument of the Holy Spirit, and the herald of the celestial Judge; for though he was a Levite, he yet is so far from sparing his own race, that he does not hesitate to brand the father of his tribe with perpetual infamy. And it is not to be doubted that the Lord purposely intended to stop the mouths of impure and profane men, such as the Lucianists, who confess that Moses was a very great man, and of rare excellence; but that he procured for himself, by craft and subtlety, authority over a great people, as if, indeed, an acute and intelligent man would not have known that, by this single act of wickedness, the honor of his race would be greatly tarnished. He had, however, no other design than to extol the goodness of God towards his people; and truly there was nothing which he less desired than to exercise dominion, as appears clearly from the fact, that he transferred the office of priesthood to another family, and commanded his sons to be only ministers. With respect to the Shechemites, although in the sight of God they were not innocent; seeing they preferred their own advantage to a religion which they thought lawful, yet it was not the Lord’s will that they should be so grievously punished for their fault; but he suffered this signal punishment to follow the violation of one maid, that he might testify to all ages his great abhorrence of lust. Besides, seeing that the iniquity had arisen from a prince of the city, the punishment is rightly extended to the whole body of the people: for since God never commits the government to evil and vicious princes, except in righteous judgment, there is no wonder that, when they sin, they involve their subjects with them in the same condemnation. Moreover, from this example let us learn, that if, at any time, fornication prevail with impunity, God will, at length, exact punishments so much the more severe: for if the violation of one maid was avenged by the horrible massacre of a whole city; he will not sleep nor be quiet, if a whole people indulge in a common license of fornication, and, on all sides, connive at each other’s iniquity. The sons of Jacob acted indeed wickedly; but we must observe that fornication was, in this manner, divinely condemned.” 6. Here is how Eugene Peterson in The Message tells the story: “25-29 Three days after the circumcision, while all the men were still very sore, two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, each with his sword in hand, walked into the city as if they owned the place and murdered every man there. They also killed Hamor and his son Shechem, rescued Dinah from Shechem’s house, and left. When the rest of Jacob’s sons came on the scene of slaughter, they looted the entire city in retaliation for Dinah’s rape. Flocks, herds, donkeys, belongingseverything, whether in the city or the fields-they took. And then they took all the wives and children captive and ransacked their homes for anything valuable.” 26 They put Hamor and his son Shechem to the sword and took Dinah from Shechem's house and left. 1. The strange thing here is that Dinah was living with Shechem. It appears that she never left being with him from the time she was raped. He not only raped her, but he captured her and took her home. How horrible this scene had to be for Dinah, and especially so if she cared about this man who raped her and took her as his prize. 2. Gill, “And they slew Hamor and Shechem his son with the edge of the sword… Whom they had been just treating with in a seeming friendly manner: Shechem was the chief aggressor, and his crime was very heinous; but considering that he did all he could, after the fact was committed, to make recompense for the injury done, he deserved other treatment, at least mercy should have been shown him. Hamor, perhaps, was too indulgent to his son, connived at his sin, and did not punish him for it; and, it may be, approved of it, and now dies for it: and took Dinah out of Shechem's house, and went out; where she was kept from the time of her being ravished by Shechem, with an intention to marry her, could the consent of her parents and relations be obtained; for it does not appear that he kept her to carry on a criminal conversation with her, but a courtship in order to marriage.” 3. Henry, “Seizing the prey of Shechem, and plundering the town. They rescued Dinah (Genesis 34:26), and, if that was all they came for, they might have done that without blood, as appears by their own showing (Genesis 34:17); but they aimed at the spoil; and, though Simeon and Levi only were the murderers, yet it is intimated that others of the sons of Jacob came upon the slain and spoiled the city (Genesis 34:27), and so became accessory to the murder. In them it was manifest injustice; yet here we may observe the righteousness of God. The Shechemites were willing to gratify the sons of Jacob by submitting to the penance of circumcision, upon this principle, Shall not their cattle and their substance be ours? (Genesis 34:23), and see what was the issue; instead of making themselves masters of the wealth of Jacob's family, Jacob's family become masters of their wealth. ote, Those who unjustly grasp at that which is another's justly lose that which is their own.” Again, Henry justifies the slaughter of innocent men by saying they were not innocent of greed, and so deserved their violent death and the loss of all their possessions. This was the righteous judgment of God he claims, but it is hard to swallow this shallow justification. 4. James Baker, “On the third day after the circumcisions when all the men of Shechem were too sore to defend themselves, Simeon and Levi swooped down on the town and killed them all. Dinah was already in Shechem's house, for the two brothers “took Dinah out of Shechem's house” after they had slain Hamor and Shechem. This can only mean that payment of the brideprice, which included the circumcision of Shechem, concluded a formal marriage, and Dinah had accompanied Shechem home as his bride. However, Shechem's pain would not have permitted him to consummate the marriage, and Simeon and Levi annulled it when they killed the young groom.” 27 The sons of Jacob came upon the dead bodies and looted the city where [d] their sister had been defiled. 1. Clarke, “The rest of Jacob's sons, the remaining brothers of Simeon and Levi, spoiled the city. Though the others could slay the defenceless males, it was not likely that they could have carried away all the booty, with the women, children, and cattle; it is therefore most natural to suppose that the rest of the sons of Jacob assisted at last in the business.” 2. Calvin, “Moses shows that, not content with simple revenge, they fly together to the spoil. As it respects the words, they are said to have come upon the slain, either because they made themselves a way over the slaughtered bodies; or because, in addition to the slaughter, they rushed to the plunder. In whichever way it is taken, Moses teaches that, not satisfied with their former wickedness, they made this addition to it. Be it, that they were blinded with anger in shedding blood; yet by what right do they sack the city? This certainly cannot be ascribed to anger. But these are the ordinary fruits of human intemperance, that he who gives himself the rein in perpetrating one wickedness, soon breaks out into another. Thus the sons of Jacob, from being murderers, become also robbers, and the guilt of avarice is added to that of cruelty. The more anxious then should be our endeavors to bridle our desires; lest they should mutually fan each other, so that at length, by their combined action, a dreadful conflagration should arise; but especially, we must beware of using force of arms, which brings with it many perverse and brutal assaults. Moses says that the sons of Jacob did this, because the Shechemites had defiled their sister; but the whole city was not guilty. Moses, however, only states in what way the authors of the slaughter are affected: for although they wish to appear just avengers of the injury, yet they pay no respect to what it was lawful for them to do, and make no attempt to control their depraved affections, and consequently set no bounds to their wickedness. Should any one prefer taking the expression in a higher sense, it may be referred to the judgment of God, by which the whole city was involved in guilt, because no one had opposed the lust of the prince: perhaps many had consented to it, as not being very much concerned about the unjust dishonor done to their guests; but the former sense is what I most approve.” 3. Gill is very weak in his disapproval of what happened here, for he seems almost to justify it as being deserved because of the whole city not preventing the sin against Jacob's daughter. This is really a very weak defense of the most godless cold blooded murders in the Bible. It is an attempt to make it not seem as bad as it is, but in trying to do that it make Gill look bad. He is brilliant and I will quote him for the rest of my life in Bible study, but he has pathetic comments here as he makes out the whole city as laughing and making a big joke out of the raped of Dinah. Gill is letting us see by his comments that he just refuses to believe and anyone chosen by God could be this evil, and so he is desperately seeking a way to make it look like the victims deserve what they got. He wrote, “The sons of Jacob came upon the slain… That is, the rest of them, as the Targum of Jonathan paraphrases it; understanding what their two brothers had done, they came and joined them, and partook of stripping the slain of their clothes, or from them what they found of any worth about them: and spoiled the city; plundered it of all its goods and substance, spoiled all the inhabitants of it of their wealth: because they had defiled their sister; one of them had done it, which is imputed to them all, they not restraining him from it, when it was in their power; and perhaps approving of it, and made a laugh of and jest at it; or however did not punish him for it.” 28 They seized their flocks and herds and donkeys and everything else of theirs in the city and out in the fields. 1. Scott Grant, “The rescue operation is justified. However, killing every man of the city, apart from the direction of the Lord, is not. The aftermath compounds the matter: Jacob’s sons loot the city. Rescuing their sister who was raped is one thing; raping the city of the one who raped their sister is another. Having made a mockery of both circumcision and marriage, the sons of Jacob now make a mockery of holy war. They engage in it without the Lord’s direction, and they collected the spoils for themselves instead of dedicating them to the Lord ( umbers 31:1-24).” 29 They carried off all their wealth and all their women and children, taking as plunder everything in the houses. 1. They hated it that one man violated their sister, but now, for no valid reason they take all of the women of this city for their plunder. Here is their secondary motive to kill the men of that city, for it gave them the chance to become wealthy. There was no war going on, and so this was not the valid spoils of victory. This was cold blooded mass murder, and deliberate robbery of people who were seeking peace. It is understandable why this text is not preached on very much, for it is so incredibly evil that nobody wants to hear that the people of God can fall this low. 2. Steven Cole, “It was terrible revenge. Even though God would later command Israel to wipe out the Canaanites, He had not done that here. There is no way of justifying what they did. The whole incident was like an avalanche which begins with a little stone and ends up burying a whole town. It never would have happened if Dinah had not visited there, which would not have happened if Jacob had not settled there. And it all came about in the course of everyday family life. Perhaps as Dinah went out the door she called, “I’ll be back later; I’m going over to my friend’s house.” Little did anyone suspect the events which would transpire.” 3. Gill, “And all their wealth… Or "power"or "strength"; every thing that made them mighty and powerful; their gold and silver, their jewels, and rich furniture of their houses, their arms and weapons of war, their goods and substance, in which they trafficked: and all their little ones and their wives took they captive: they spared the women and children, as was usual war, and in the plunder of towns and cities: and spoiled even all that [was] in the house; of Shechem or Hamor, or in any of the houses of the inhabitants; they rifled and plundered everyone, and took away whatsoever they found in them; but as Jacob disapproved of this unjust, cruel, bloody, and perfidious action, so no doubt, as he set the captives at liberty, he restored to them their cattle and substance.” Gill seems to know something that others do not know, for nobody else says anything about the captives being set free with their goods. Where is this written? 30 Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, "You have brought trouble on me by making me a stench to the Canaanites and Perizzites, the people living in this land. We are few in number, and if they join forces against me and attack me, I and my household will be destroyed." 1. Clarke, “Brought my mind into great distress, and endangered my personal safety; to make me to stink-to render me odious to the surrounding tribes, so that there is every reason to suspect that when this deed is come abroad they will join in a confederacy against me, and extirpate my whole family. And had he not been under the peculiar protection of God, this in all human probability would have been the case; but he had prevailed with God, and he was also to prevail with men. That Jacob's resentment was not dissembled we have the fullest proof in his depriving these two sons of the birthright, which otherwise they had doubtless enjoyed. See Genesis 49:5,7, where some additional circumstances are related.” 1B. Here is the ultimate in self centered pity. His sons have wiped out a city of innocent men in cold blooded murder and he says, “Look what you have done to me!” He only thinks of how this is going to look as it affects his image in the eyes of the surrounding pagan people. It is not a horrible shame that so many innocent men have died for no reason, but the shame of it is that it will bring shame to my name among the people of the land. There is no weeping for the crime of the century coming from his own boys, and no lamenting for the many widows and fatherless children whose lives have been brutally and radically crushed because of his hot headed sons. This is not the disturbing issue before us now, but what are people going to think of me now? What a mess you have made in my life. Would anyone care to join this pity party? Jacob does not say a word of how this atrocity is so out of the will of God. He does not use this occasion to teach his sons that they are a chosen family to be a blessing to the nations of the world, and that this is action in total reverse of their purpose in God's plan. There is no hint of their need to repent of their godless response to an evil that was being resolved in peace. God was not in his thoghts at all, and that is why this chapter exists. When people forget God, and leave him out of their lives, there is no end to how far they can go in being tools of the devil. 1C. S. Lewis Johnson Jr., “Did you notice the first person? He said, “you have brought trouble on me.” He said, “My men are few in number. They will gather together against me and attack me and I will be destroyed, I and my household.” He does not say anything about the sin of camping near the city of Shechem. He does not say anything about the fact that I am to blame perhaps for what has happened. He has no repentance so far as we can tell. o regret. o remorse for what has happened. He has no sense even of God’s promises to him and how this action is a contradiction of that, but on the contrary, the only thing he can speak about is Jacob. Jacob whose name has now become Israel, God’s fighter, is living like Jacob again. o sense of the divine blessing and the divine calling.” 1D. Barnhouse, “"Jacob! You brought that trouble on yourself. You passed your own deceitful nature into your boys. You set them a constant example of guile. They heard you lie to Esau at Peniel and start northwest after he went southeast. They saw your interest in the fat pastures when you pitched your tent in Shechem. You said nothing when Dinah was violated . . . Talk to God about your own sin before talking to these boys about theirs." 2. R. C. Sproul, “Jacob’s complaint after Simeon and Levi slaughter the men of the city reveals his spiritual inadequacies. He could have justly condemned his sons for their wanton massacre of the Shechemites, abuse of circumcision, or breach of contract (34:13–17, 25). But Jacob is not worried about any of this; he is only afraid their actions will hurt him (34:30). Despite being transformed by His wrestling with God at Peniel (32:22–32), Jacob lets his old self get the best of him. Once again, he wants only to save his own skin (32:20). 2B. Steven Cole, “Throughout this chapter, Jacob is passive. He never warns or stops Dinah before it’s too late. When he hears of her defilement, he is silent. He doesn’t give any direction to his sons as to how they should deal with things. He’s passive in dealing with Hamor and Shechem, letting his sons do all the talking. It seems he would have let Dinah marry Shechem after he was circumcised, even though he still would have been as pagan as before. Although he rebukes his sons, it’s based more on his own fear of retaliation than on moral principle (note the emphasis on “me” and “I” in verse 30). If he was grieved over Dinah’s defilement or his sons’ godless revenge, it’s not recorded. At least his sons grieved over what happened to their sister (34:7).” 3. Jamison, “This atrocious outrage perpetrated on the defenseless citizens and their families made the cup of Jacob's affliction overflow. We may wonder that, in speaking of it to his sons, he did not represent it as a heinous sin, an atrocious violation of the laws of God and man, but dwelt solely on the present consequences. It was probably because that was the only view likely to rouse the cold-blooded apathy, the hardened consciences of those ruffian sons. othing but the restraining power of God saved him and his family from the united vengeance of the people (compare Ge 35:5). All his sons had not been engaged in the massacre. Joseph was a boy, Benjamin not yet born, and the other eight not concerned in it. Simeon and Levi alone, with their retainers, had been the guilty actors in the bloody tragedy. But the Canaanites would not be discriminating in their vengeance; and if all the Shechemites were put to death for the offense of their chief's son, what wonder if the natives should extend their hatred to all the family of Jacob; and who probably equalled, in number, the inhabitants of that village.” 4. Wenham, “Of course, fear is natural in such a situation, but the reasons Jacob gives for damning his sons betray him. He does not condemn them for the massacre, for abusing the rite of circumcision, or even for breach of contract. Rather, he protests that the consequences of their action have made him unpopular. or does he seem worried by his daughter's rape or the prospect of intermarriage with the Canaanites. He is only concerned for his own skin." 5. Gill, “And Jacob said to Simeon and Levi… who were the principals concerned in this affair: ye have troubled me; because of the sin they had committed, because of the dishonour brought upon religion, and because of the danger he and his family were hereby exposed unto; it greatly disquieted him, made him very uneasy, he was at his wit's end almost, knew not what to do, what course to take to wipe off the scandal, and to defend himself and family; since it served, he says, to make me to stink among the inhabitants of the land; to make him odious and abominable, to be hated and abhorred by all the people round about, and to be looked upon and treated as a deceitful, treacherous, and perfidious man, that had no regard to his word, to covenants and agreements made by him; as a cruel and bloodthirsty man that spared none, made no difference between the innocent and the guilty; and as a robber and plunderer, that stopped at nothing, committing the greatest outrages to get possession of the substance of others: amongst the Canaanites and the Perizzites: who were the principal inhabitants of the land, the most numerous, and the most rustic and barbarous, and perhaps nearest, and from whom Jacob had most to fear: and I [being] few in number; or men of number F16; he and his sons and servants, in all, making but a small number in comparison of the nations about him: they shall gather themselves together against me, and slay me; and I shall be destroyed, I and my house; not that Jacob was afraid that this would be really the case, for he knew and believed the promises of God to him, of the multiplication of his seed, and of their inheriting the land of Canaan, and of the Messiah springing from him; but this he said to aggravate the sin and folly of his sons, in exposing him and themselves to so much danger, which not only on the face of things appeared probable, but even certain and inevitable, without the interposition of divine power and Providence. 6. Calvin, “Moses declares that the crime was condemned by the holy man, lest any one should think that he had participated in their counsel. He also expostulates with his sons, because they had caused him to stink among the inhabitants of the land; that is, they had rendered him so odious, that no one would be able to bear him. If then the neighboring nations should conspire among themselves, he would be unable to resist them, seeing he had so small a band, in comparison with their great number. He also expressly names the Canaanites and Perizzites, who, though they had received no wrong, were yet by nature exceedingly prone to inflict injury. But Jacob may seem to act preposterously, in overlooking the offense committed against God, and in considering only his own danger. Why is he not rather angry at their cruelty? why is he not offended at their perfidy? why does he not reprove their rapaciousness? It is however probable, that when he saw them terror — stricken at their recent crime, he suited miswords to their state of mind. For he acts as if he were complaining that he, rather than the Shechemites, was slain by them. We know that men are seldom if ever drawn to repentance, except by the fear of punishment: especially when they have any specious pretext as a covering for their fault. Besides, we know not whether Moses may not have selected this as a part out of a long expostulation, to cause his readers to understand that the fury of Simon and Levi was so outrageous, that they were more insensible than brute beasts to their own destruction and that of their whole family. This is clear from their own answer, which not only breathes a barbarous ferocity, but shows that they had no feeling. It was barbarous, first, because they excuse themselves for having destroyed a whole people and plundered their city, on account of the injury done by one man; secondly, because they answer their father so shortly and contumaciously; thirdly, because they obstinately defend the revenge which they had rashly taken. Moreover, their insensibility was prodigious, because they were not affected by the thought of their own death, and that of their parents, wives, and children, which seemed just at hand. Thus we are taught, how intemperate anger deprives men of their senses. We are also admonished, that it is not enough for us to be able to lay blame on our opponents; but we must always see how far it is lawful for us to proceed.” 7. Guzik, “When Jacob was about to die, he prophesied over each of his 12 sons. This is what he said about Simeon and Levi: Simeon and Levi are brothers; instruments of cruelty are in their dwelling place. Let not my soul enter their council; let not my honor be united to their assembly; for in their anger they slew a man, and in their self-will they hamstrung an ox. Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce; and their wrath, for it is cruel! I will divide them in Jacob and scatter them in Israel. (Genesis 49:5-7) He saw Simeon and Levi for who they were, but he rebuked them far too late. The prophetic word of God through Jacob proved true. God did in fact both divide the tribes of Simeon and Levi, and scatter them among Israel. But, significantly, the way it happened for each tribe was different. The tribe of Simeon, because of their lack of faithfulness, was effectively dissolved as a tribe, and the tribe of Simeon was absorbed into the tribal area of Judah. The tribe of Levi was also scattered, but because of the faithfulness of this tribe during the rebellion of the golden calf (Exodus 32:26-28), the tribe was scattered as a blessing throughout the whole nation of Israel. Both were scattered, but one as a blessing and the other as curse.” 8. Henry, “What could be expected, but that the Canaanites, who were numerous and formidable, would confederate against him, and he and his little family would become an easy prey to them? I shall be destroyed, I and my house. If all the Shechemites must be destroyed for the offence of one, why not all the Israelites for the offence of two? Jacob knew indeed that God had promised to preserve and perpetuate his house; but he might justly fear that these vile practices of his children would amount to a forfeiture, and cut off the entail. ote, When sin is in the house, there is reason to fear ruin at the door. The tender parents foresee those bad consequences of sin which the wicked children have no dread of. One would think this should have made them to relent, and they should have humbled themselves to their good father, and begged his pardon; but, instead of this, they justify themselves, and give him this insolent reply, Should he deal with our sister as with a harlot? o, he should not; but, if he do, must they be their own avengers? Will nothing less than so many lives, and the ruin of a whole city, serve to atone for an abuse done to one foolish girl? By their question they tacitly reflect upon their father, as if he would have been content to let them deal with his daughter as with a harlot. ote, It is common for those who run into one extreme to reproach and censure those who keep the mean as if they ran into the other. Those who condemn the rigour of revenge shall be misrepresented, as if they countenanced and justified the offence.” 9. H. R. Mackintosh, “Thus it was the consequences in reference to himself that affected Jacob most. He seems to have walked in constant apprehension of danger to himself or his family, and in the manifestation of an anxious, a cautious, timid, calculating spirit, utterly incompatible with a life of genuine faith in GOD. It is not that Jacob was not, in the main, a man of faith; he assuredly was, and as such gets a place amongst the "cloud of witnesses" in Hebrews 11. But then he exhibited sad failure from not walking in the habitual exercise of that divine principle. Could faith have led him to say, "I shall be destroyed, I and my house?" Surely not. GOD's promise in Chapter 28:14, 15, should have banished every fear from his poor, timid spirit. "I will keep thee I will not leave thee." This should have tranquillized his heart. But the fact is, his mind was more occupied with his danger among the Shechemites than with his security in the hand of GOD. He ought to have known that not a hair of his head could be touched, and therefore, instead of looking at Simeon and Levi, or the consequences of their rash acting, he should have judged himself for being in such a position at all. If he had not settled at Shechem, Dinah would not have been dishonored, and the violence of his sons would not have been exhibited.” 10. Keil has some defense of Jacob as he writes, “If Jacob laid stress simply upon the consequences which this crime was likely to bring upon himself and his house, the reason was, that this was the view most adapted to make an impression upon his sons. For his last words concerning Simeon and Levi (Gen_49:5-7) are a sufficient proof that the wickedness of their conduct was also an object of deep abhorrence. And his fear was not groundless. Only God in His mercy averted all the evil consequences from Jacob and his house (Gen_35:5-6).” 11. Robert Candlish, “And how does Jacob feel when the terrible fact bursts upon his knowledge. He is deeply moved, no doubt. The discovery of the atrocity is to him both a shock and a surprise — and he does not hesitate to express his mind to the two who had been the ringleaders in the exploit, Simeon and Levi (ver. 30). But even here, the traces of the lowered moral and spiritual tone of his mind come out. The remonstrance, after all, is but a feeble one ; it indicates no high principle — no holy indignation — no righteous wrath ; it turns mainly on considerations of selfish pohcy and prudence. It is a false step that has been taken — a step false in point of expediency. A blunder, rather than a crime, has been committed ; and it may lead to unpleasant consequences. It may rouse the resentment of the neighbors and allies of the suffering tribe — and so endanger the fortunes, and even the lives, of himself and his family. Surely this is a kind of expostulation far below the occasion — not such as one who " feared God and regarded man " would have been apt to utter. And he seems but too ready to accept the lame apology of the culprits — "Should he deal with our sister as with an harlot" (ver. 31). For it was a lame apology, and false as well as lame. It was an apology exaggerating the original offense, and suppressing all that was so honorable to his heart in the subsequent conduct of the offender. It was, in truth, a shameless justification of the foul deed, in all its foulness. And Jacob, by his silence, appears to make himself almost a party to the deed — a sort of accomplice after the fact. Long afterward, Jacob spoke very differently concerning this transaction. On his deathbed, looking at it in the near prospect of eternity, he stigmatized it with somewhat more severity. By that time the patriarch had come to view the matter more in the light of God's holy law, and less in the light of human policy and passion. But alas ! for the close of the present chapter of his history. It leaves him a dishonored and degraded parent, — reaping the bitter fruit of unsteadfastness in ruling his own household, and giving sad evidence of that un-steadfastness being the result, in large measure, of his own heart not being right with God.” 12. F. B. Meyer, “The real mistake of it all was that Jacob bought that land, and settled too near the city (Genesis 33:18). As a pilgrim he had no right to do this. If Christian parents will settle down in fellowship with the world, they have themselves to thank for all the misery which accrues to themselves and children, and the dishonor to God.” 13. It might be well to remember that Jacob favored his children from Rachel over those who were born to him from Leah, and it is Leah's children who are the ones in trouble in this chapter. Some commentators point out that being a less favored child has a deep negative influence on children. This could explain in part why these two sons of Leah are such angry hot heads who give no thought to the danger they are causing their family. There is a lot of hostility pent up in them, and this abuse of their sister was the detonator that set off the bomb they had in their hearts. They became mad men on a rampage with no thought but hate. Most agree that Jacob was a major cause for this bitter hate in them. In their minds he already had plenty of stink on him. 31 But they replied, "Should he have treated our sister like a prostitute?" 1. The implied answer is no he should not have done that. How simple minded can you be, for just because it was wrong, and terribly wrong, you do not go on a murderous rampage and kill everyone who knew the kid that did this. This is mind boggling wickedness on their part, and they think it is justified because their sister was treated badly. It is wonderful when older brothers stand up for their sisters, but this is as irrational as anything can be. Should he have treated our sister like a prostitute? O! But should you have treated him and his whole town as worthless scum fit to be murdered by your hot headed injustice? O !!! 2. Dr. Gordon Hugenberger, “ Genesis 34 offers no explicit moral comment on what Simeon and Levi did. In Genesis 49, however, Jacob makes it abundantly clear that when they pretended to avenge the honor of their sister, they committed an unjustified atrocity. Although they were the next in line after Reuben, who forfeited his inheritance because of sexual sin, both Simeon and Levi and their descendants forfeited their kingdom inheritance (neither tribe was given a tribal allotment in the Promised Land), and the privilege of being the bearer of the promised Messianic royal seed (Genesis 3:15; 12; 17:6, 16; 22:18) devolves onto Judah (Genesis 49:10), in whose line King David and, ultimately, Jesus Christ were born.” 2B. Leslie Grant, “This whole action was so cruelly unjust that we wonder that there was nothing whatever done in the way of retribution or correction. God has certainly exposed it in all it naked wickedness, and we know He could not approve of anything like this. Yet why was there no recompense? It seems the answer is simply that God does not always settle His accounts quickly: the wheels of His government grind slowly, but He misses nothing, and will in His own time take care of every detail of our ways. At least, as to Simeon, see Genesis 42:24. The other brothers at the same time went through a traumatic ordeal. But the full end of the matter is in God's hands. This is consistent with God's ways always in regard to Israel the nation. He did not allow others at this time to attack Jacob, but He will deal with His people in His own time and way. This was not fair mindedness, for Shechem had not actually dealt that way, and if he had, did that justify Simeon and Levi in their killing all the men of that city and plundering their houses? their dealings with the city were far worse than was Shechem's sin.” 3. Calvin, “Shechem, indeed, had acted wickedly and impiously; but it was far more atrocious and wicked that the sons of Jacob should murder a whole people, to avenge themselves of the private fault of one man. It was by no means fitting to seek a cruel compensation for the levity and rashness of one youth, by the slaughter of so many men. Again, who had constituted them judges, that they should dare, with their own hands, to execute vengeance for an injury inflicted upon them? Perfidy was also super added, because they proceeded, under the pretext of a covenant, to perpetrate this enormous crime. In Jacob, moreover, we have an admirable example of patient endurance; who, though afflicted with so many evils, yet did not faint under them. But chiefly we must consider the mercy of God, by which it came to pass, that the covenant of grace remained with the posterity of Jacob. For what seemed less suitable, than that a few men in whom such furious rage and such implacable malice reigned, should be reckoned among the people and the sons of God, to the exclusion of all the world besides? We see certainly that it was not through any power of their own that they had not altogether declined from the kingdom of God. Whence it appears that the favor which God had vouchsafed unto them was gratuitous, and not founded upon their merits. We also require to be treated by Him with the same indulgence, seeing that we should utterly fall away, if God did not pardon our sins. The sons of Jacob have, indeed, a just cause of offense, because not only are they affected with their own private ignominy, but they are tormented with the indignity of the crime, because their sister had been dragged forth from the house of Jacob, as from a sanctuary, to be violated. For this they chiefly urge, that it would have been wickedness to allow such disgrace in the elect and holy people: but they themselves, through the hatred of one sin, rush furiously forward to greater and more intolerable crimes. Therefore we must beware, lest, after we have become severe judges in condemning the faults of others, we hasten inconsiderately into evil. But chiefly we must abstain from violent remedies which surpass the evil we desire to correct.” 4. Keil quotes, “The deception they practised, the abuse of the covenant sign of circumcision as a means of gratifying their revenge, and the extension of that revenge to the whole town, together with the plundering of the slain, were crimes deserving of the strongest reprobation. The crafty character of Jacob degenerated into malicious cunning in Simeon and Levi; and jealousy for the exalted vocation of their family, into actual sin. This event “shows us in type all the errors into which the belief in the pre-eminence of Israel was sure to lead in the course of history, whenever that belief was rudely held by men of carnal minds” (O. v. Gerlach). 5. Guzik, “They felt justified because the men of Shechem had treated their sister as a prostitute (Genesis 34:31), but they were prostituting the sign of God's covenant for their own murderous purpose.” 6. Ilona . Rashkow writes from a feminist viewpoint and says these brothers do not even realize they have destroyed their sisters life by depriving her of the right to live a normal life with a man who loves her and desires her for a wife. We never hear of her again, and so it is likely that she never married and had children, and it is possible to see these brothers as having raped Dinah in an even more wicked way than did Shechem. 7. Rabbi Allison Bergman Vann writes from a Jewish woman's perspective. “Ruth Friedberg, sent me a poem she authored when she heard of this sermon. An excerpt reads: My brothers speak of honor, Theirs, not mine. And they write their words In the blood Of a man who cherished me. I speak of nothing, Listening to the wind Blow round my tent As the sun sets red Over Shechem. Dinah's voice deserves to be heard, and, thanks to the times we live in, we have the opportunity to bring the text to life and allow Dinah to breathe again, as Ruth did in her beautiful work.” 7B. Rabbi Allison Bergman Vann goes on to deal with the ambiguity of this relationship. “Is this a story of a rape or a secretive courtship? The debate rages for the answers are unclear. I propose-perhaps because I am a romantic-that this was a story of an illicit love affair gone terribly wrong. Besides the competing texts between love and rape, we must look also to the whereabouts of Dinah. Where is she after Shechem lays with her? We learn at the very end of the story that she was in Shechem's house! Was she there by force-or setting up a love nest? Ita Sheres says that Shechem “recognizes Dinah as a person of value”. In addition an ancient rabbi believed that Simeon and Levi had to drag Dinah from Shechem's home. We may “be tempted to speculate that the two of them -young, unwed, and crucially, each from a different tribe-have fallen so deeply in love with each other they dare to engage in some kind of sexual encounter. Anita Diamant writes, too, of the boundless love that Dinah had for Shechem, and the pain she suffered when her brothers killed him and forced her home again. As contemporary Jews-women and men-we must continue to give the voices of the women that shaped our traditions voices, so that their stories may shine through. With their stories our tradition will be enriched and we will be able to offer voices to the many silent voices in our tradition.” 7C. If the above, which is a view of some modern Jewish women, is true, then the brothers of Dinah are the ones who robbed her of a life that she could have had, and forced her to be unwed and motherless for the rest of her life. This adds another sin to their long list of violations of God's expressed will in this chapter. 7D. Susan Jacobson, “It is only now that Dinah’s voice is being heard --- in interpretations such Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent and other revisionings of the Bible that view the event from Dinah’spoint of view, and attempt to give voice to her feelings. Was she ashamed of what had happened? Did she want revenge? Or was this a secret love affair, frowned upon by her family? Had she been able to speak, could she have averted the slaughter of the men of Shechem and the plunder of the city? The silence of Dinah is deafening.” 8. Pablo R. Andiñach gives us this information on every text where Dinah is mentioned, “It is very interesting to examine the references to Dinah in the Hebrew text and try to understand their significance. Beyond the chapter with which we are concerned, there are two references to Jacob’s daughter. To begin with, we should feel somewhat surprised that she is even mentioned in these lists, since, normally, women were not included amongst family descendants. In the few cases that daughters are mentioned, it is usually the case that the women relate to an event that the author wishes to highlight. In this case, it is probable that the enmity between Israel and the Shechemites may have been related to the massive crime of Simeon and Levi as revenge for the kidnapping and rape of Dinah, and this could be the reason her name remained in the genealogy of Jacob. The first reference is in Gen 30:21 "Afterwards she bore a daughter, and named her Dinah". This refers to Leah the less-loved wife of Jacob, but whom in her second stage of fertility gave birth to two sons and Dinah. The mention is so brief that it has been suggested that it is a later addition to the larger text. This is quite probable, but far from weakening the text. In this case it is an added value, as it indicates that it was necessary to incorporate it so as to preserve such a significant story for Israelite history. It may have a double sense as a story, because in the list of Jacob’s descendants included in Gen 29:31-30:24 Dinah is needed to reach number of twelve descendants. At this time of the narrative Benjamin had not been born (but by Gen 35: 16-20 he will be), though by then the structure of the twelve tribes would seem to have been acknowledged and justified. One can suspect that the inclusion of a woman would permit that in the future she could be eliminated from the list and replaced by Benjamin or some other male. But that does not seem to be the case, as it would have meant the substitution of Levi once they became a priestly tribe, and as such, with no land to their name; this will happen with the opening up of the tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim. There is a second list of Jacob’s descendants where Dinah’s name is mentioned. In Genesis 46:8-27, which is a Priestly list, not only the names of the sons are included, but also of the descendants of those who had arrived in Egypt. When mentioning the children born by Leah in Paddan-aram, the text adds "together with his daughter Dinah". In the whole list of descendants only two women are mentioned: Dinah and Serah, daughter of Asher. She is named here and then disappears from the text. Curiously enough, Serah is named in 1 Chronicles 7:30 when reference is made to the list of descendants included at the time of distribution of the land amongst the tribes. We do not hear of Dinah in the Old Testament outside this chapter 34 and the two other texts.” 9. R. C. Sproul, “The references to violence and killing in Genesis 49:5–6 recall their perversion of the sign and seal of circumcision to exact revenge upon the Shechemites for violating their sister Dinah (chap. 34). o direct commentary on the immorality of this event has been voiced yet, though many contextual clues have indicated that God was displeased. The blessing on Simeon and Levi removes any ambiguity about their deeds. Their wanton slaughter of an entire city was wrong, and their families will feel the consequences. All of Jacob’s sons are brothers, but he calls Simeon and Levi “brothers” explicitly since the sword binds them together in ways they are not bound to their other brothers (49:5). The Hebrew term for violence here tells us an abhorrent ruthlessness motivated their behavior. Simeon and Levi even hamstrung Shechem’s oxen needlessly (v. 6), injuring innocent animals and ruining them as beasts of burden. On account of their sin, the brothers will be scattered in the Promised Land without permanent inheritance rights (v. 7). As expected, Jacob’s words would come true in the history of the nation of Israel. Simeon is the only tribe Moses does not bless in Deuteronomy 33, and he is given only a select number of cities in Judah’s territory (Josh. 19:1–9). The tribe of Judah eventually absorbs the Simeonites, and they disappear from history. Levi is also scattered throughout Israel, but his tribe fares better in the history of redemption. Moses, a son of Levi (Ex. 2:1–10), later mediates the old covenant. Moreover, God would choose the Levites to be His priests ( um. 3:5–13), restoring honor to these displaced sons of Jacob. 9B. An unknown author gives us more light on why Levi was restored to favor. “As a result, Jacob prophesies they would receive no inheritance but be scattered in Israel. The destinies of these two tribes, however, were quite diverse. Levi became a dominant tribe, fathering the priesthood of Israel, while Simeon was relegated to selected cities in the tribal inheritance of Judah (Joshua 19:1). Since both brothers were equally guilty in the slaughter, there must be a reason for their different destinies. Whereas the tribal members of Simeon did nothing to atone for the crime of their father, the tribe of Levi, in singular loyalty, stood by Moses’ side when the rest of Israel bowed to the golden calf. They responded to Moses’ ringing inquiry, "Who is on the Lord’s side?" (Exodus 32:26-28). It has always been a truism that God hears the repentant heart, even to the third and fourth generation. What a final lesson for each of us! If we have, in rashness, done that which is wrong, or violent, or self-willed, a full return to the Lord will bring a compensating blessing. Let us each seek to be as the descendants of Levi, not as the descendants of Simeon. 10. There is so much subjectivity involved in interpreting this chapter that it can be frustrating to draw conclusions. Parry, Robin wrote, “A History of the Interpretation of Genesis 34 with Special Reference to Its Usein Ethics” (87–122), is a fascinating journey in the footsteps of exegesis of the story from the second century to the present. Reading the contradictory interpretations, one cannot avoid wondering how the same basic data can be read in such widely varying fashions by different people and what this means for the eternal question of whether one can ever arrive at the “correct” interpretation. For example, some argue that Dinah was seduced rather than raped (e.g., Bechtel); some lay the blame at her door (e.g., Ambrose, Genesis Rabbah). Some describe Dinah in a positive fashion and emphasize her guiltlessness (e.g., Philo). Some justify the massacre (e.g., Jubilees, the book of Judith, Philo), while others describe it as wicked (e.g., John Calvin, Fewell and Gunn). Some believe that the story portrays Jacob favorably (e.g., Martin Luther, Fewell and Gunn), while others think that he is depicted in an unflattering light (e.g., Sternberg). Finally, some see Hamor as a devoted father (e.g., Sternberg), whereas others argue that he failed in his duty to educate his son (e.g., Luther).” JEWISH TRADITIO S TRYI G TO MAKE SE SE OF THIS CHAPTER. The following quotes are from Kadari, Tamar. "Dinah: Midrash and Aggadah." Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. 20 March 2009. Jewish Women's Archive. April 15, 2010 . These are Jewish attempts to explain why this chapter exists in the Bible. It is primarily a focus on punishment, or the judgment of God on Jacob and his family. Since it is just speculation, I am not impressed with it as having any validity, but it is at least an attempt to find meaning in the events here recorded. Some of them are so far fetched that I am skipping them. You can use the above information to see all of them. I will just give a couple of examples. 1. A third tradition suggests that Jacob’s tardiness in honoring his vow was the cause of his punishment. When he was in Bethel, during his flight from Laban, he vowed that if God favored him, he would return to Bethel and there erect an altar to the Lord (Gen. 28: 20–22). Jacob, however, procrastinated in fulfilling his pledge: first he lived in Laban’s house for twenty years, and even after returning to Canaan, he first dwelled in Shechem. He therefore was punished by experiencing all three of the cardinal sins of idolatry, forbidden sexual relations and bloodshed: forbidden sexual relations—by Shechem’s rape of Dinah; bloodshed—the ensuing slaughter of the inhabitants of Shechem by Simeon and Levi; and idolatry—following this massacre, Jacob commands all the members of his household to rid themselves of foreign gods (Lev. Rabbah 37:1). 2. Yet another tradition claims that Jacob was penalized for preventing Dinah from marrying his brother Esau. Before his encounter with the latter, Jacob sent his family across the Jabbok River, as we are told in Gen. 32:22: “That same night he arose, and took his two wives, his two maidservants, and his eleven children.” The midrash asks: Where was Dinah? and answers that he had locked her in a chest, saying: “So that Esau should not see her and take her from me.” God told him: You withheld Dinah from your brother, and, due to her good attributes, she could have reformed him. Since you did not want to give her to Esau, who was circumcised, you are punished through her being taken by one who was uncircumcised (Shechem son of Hamor); you did not give her in legitimate matrimony, therefore you are punished by her being taken by Shechem illegitimately (Gen. Rabbah 76:9; Tanhuma [ed. Buber], Vayishlah 19).” Another set of speculations deal with it all being for the punishment of Leah. 1. The Rabbis alternately explain the rape of Dinah as retribution for Leah’s improper behavior regarding the mandrakes. In the Biblical account, Reuben found mandrakes (an aphrodisiac) in the field, and brought them to his mother Leah. Rachel, who was barren, asked Leah to sell them to her, in return for forgoing her right to be with Jacob that night. Gen. 30:16 tells that upon Jacob’s return from the field, Leah came out to greet him and called him to come to her tent. According to the Rabbis, Leah was bedecked as a harlot when she went to meet her husband. For acting in such an immodest manner, she was punished by her daughter behaving in the same fashion when she went out to visit the daughters of the land (Gen. Rabbah 80:1). 2. Another midrashic explanation of Leah’s sin with the mandrakes is that she was ungrateful to Rachel. God asked her: Is this the reward for a good deed? Is this the reward of your sister Rachel, who gave you her signs with her husband [that Jacob and Rachel had agreed upon, so that Laban would not be able to deceive Jacob], to spare you embarrassment on your wedding night? As punishment for this behavior, God caused Leah even greater embarrassment with the episode of Dinah (Gen. Rabbati, Vayishlah, p. 168). There are other speculations and inventions as well, but what is quite interesting is the stories and traditions of the Rabbis that lead them to a happy conclusion, so that this terrible chapter ends up with much redeeming value. Here is a taste of very positive thinking on the part of Jewish authors as they deal with what happened to Dinah after this personal tragedy. You have to give them credit for their creativity, but unfortunately there is no Biblical or historical evidence to support these theories. 1. When Simeon and Levi came to the city and killed Shechem and Hamor, they extricated Dinah from Shechem’s home. Since they risked their lives for her, the Torah (Gen. 34:25) calls them, specifically, “Simeon and Levi, brothers of Dinah” (Mekhilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Masekhta deShirah, Beshalah 10). The Rabbis relate that the brothers were forced to drag Dinah out, because she was too ashamed to leave Shechem’s house. Finally, Simeon vowed to her that he would marry her. They wed, and a son was born from this union, “Saul the son of a Canaanite woman” (Gen. 46:10); Dinah was the “Canaanite woman,” because her behavior was like that of the Canaanites. According to another explanation of this appellation, when she died, Simeon buried her in Canaan (Gen. Rabbah 80:11). 2. A different midrash relates that Dinah was married to Job, basing this on Job’s telling his wife: “You talk as any shameless woman [ha-nevalot] might talk!” (Job 2:10), and on the episode of Dinah in Gen. 34:7: “because he had committed an outrage [nevalah] in Israel” (Gen. Rabbah 19:12). Dinah converted Job, and therefore Jacob had erred when he opposed her being married to his brother Esau, a union which would have led to the latter’s reformation (see above) (Tanhuma [ed. Buber], Vayishlah 19). For more on Job’s wife, see the entry: “Wife of Job.” 3. According to another midrashic account, Dinah was impregnated by Shechem and gave birth to Asenath. Jacob’s sons wanted to kill the baby, so it would not be said that there was harlotry in Jacob’s tents. Jacob brought a gold plate and wrote on it the name of the Holy One, blessed be He; according to another tradition, he recorded on it the episode with Shechem. Jacob hung the plate around Asenath’s neck and sent her away. God dispatched the angel Michael to bring her to the house of Potiphar in Egypt; according to another exegetical tradition, Dinah cast Asenath on the wall of Egypt (i.e., the wall surrounding the palace). That day Potiphar went out for a walk with his servants next to the wall and heard the infant’s crying. When they brought the baby to him, he saw the plate and the record of the episode. Potiphar told his servants, “This girl is the daughter of great ones.” He brought her to his home and gave her a wet nurse. Potiphar’s wife was barren, and she raised Asenath as her own daughter. Consequently, she was called “Asenath daughter of Poti-phera,” for she was raised in the home of Potiphar and his wife, as if she were their own daughter (Pirkei de-Rabbi Eliezer [ed. Higger], chap. 37; Midrash Aggadah [ed. Buber], Gen. 41:45). These different midrashic accounts of Dinah’s marriage teach that Dinah overcame the episode of her rape by Shechem, rehabilitated herself and was married. According to some of these traditions, either she herself or her daughter married some family member from Jacob’s clan. Her descendants included renowned individuals.” Let me share a good thing that came out of this chapter from the experience of a young Jewish man who found it by accident and it changed his motivation to study the Bible. He now has a blog called “Blogging the Bible What happens when an ignoramus reads the Good Book? By David Plotz Here is a portion of his story: “I have always been a proud Jew, but never a terribly observant one. Several weeks ago, I made a rare visit to synagogue for a cousin's bat mitzvah and, as usual, found myself confused (and bored) by a Hebrew service I couldn't understand. During the second hour of what would be a ceremony of FL-game-plus-overtime-length, I picked up the Torah in the pew-back, opened it at random, and started reading (the English translation, that is). I was soon engrossed in a story I didn't know, Genesis Chapter 34. This is not a story they taught me at Temple Sinai's Hebrew School in 1980: The founding fathers of the 12 tribes of Israel lie, breach a contract, encourage pagans to convert to Judaism only in order to incapacitate them for slaughter, murder some innocents and enslave others, pillage and profiteer, and then justify it all with an appeal to their sister's defiled honor. (Which, incidentally, may not have been defiled at all: Some commentators, their views dramatized in Anita Diamant's The Red Tent, think Dinah went with Shechem willingly, and even the language in the two translations I looked at is ambiguous. One says Shechem "lay with her by force," while the King James say he "lay with her, and defiled her.") Like many lax but well-educated Jews (and Christians), I have long assumed I knew what was in the Bible—more or less. I read parts of the Torah as a child in Hebrew school, then attended a rigorous Christian high school where I had to study the Old and ew Testaments. Many of the highlights stuck in my head—Adam and Eve, Cain vs., Abel, Jacob vs. Esau, Jonah vs. whale, 40 days and nights, 10 plagues and Commandments, 12 tribes and apostles, Red Sea walked under, Galilee Sea walked on, bush into fire, rock into water, water into wine. And, of course, I absorbed other bits of Bible everywhere—from stories I heard in churches and synagogues, movies and TV shows, tidbits my parents and teachers told me. All this left me with a general sense that I knew the Good Book well enough, and that it was a font of crackling stories, Jewish heroes, and moral lessons. So, the tale of Dinah unsettled me, to say the least. If this story was strutting cheerfully through the back half of Genesis, what else had I forgotten or never learned? I decided I would, for the first time as an adult, read the Bible. And I would blog about it as I went along.” You can follow his blog at This strange chapter started him on a mission to better understand the Bible. MY OBSERVATIO S A D QUOTES I TRYI G TO MAKE SE SE OF THIS CHAPTER 1. Sailhamer, “While the story in this chapter operates at a level of family honor and the brothers' concern for their ravaged sister, the story nevertheless also carries along the theme that runs so clearly through the Jacob narratives, namely, that God works through and often in spite of the limited self-serving plans of human beings. The writer's purpose is not to approve these human plans and schemes but to show how God, in his sovereign grace, could still achieve his purpose through them." 2. This is a clear demonstration that nobody is so evil that God cannot use them for his purpose in history, and in the end redeem them and cleanse them, and make them instruments of blessing to a great number of people. These are two of the most hateful and wicked men in the Bible, and yet they were used of God in the formation of the nation of Israel. evertheless, it cost them a great deal in terms of their inheritance and image among the people of God. 3. “It explains why Jacob passed over Simeon and Levi for the special blessing.” This is a main reason for this difficult chapter, for it had a long lasting effect on the tribes of Israel. Robert Rayburn put it, “As Jacob will say of these two sons in his final blessing of his twelve sons in Genesis 49 (vv. 5-7), what we see of Simeon and Levi here is what was all too true of them as a rule. There was a vengeful and violent streak in their characters. It was this, their father would later say, that disqualified them from leadership in Israel. Hotheaded, vengeful, and violent men make for bad kings!” 4. “The sons remain blind to the larger economic issue, blind to the dangers they have created, blind to the possibilities of cooperation, and blind even to the ways they have compromised their own religion in their thirst for vengeance and gain” (Brueggemann, 279). 4B. This chapter is a warning of just how far God's people can fall when they shut God out of their daily life. It is the ultimate example of how bad examples should frighten us to ever go a day without asking for God's presence to be real to us, and that the mind of Christ be in all of our thinking and actions. 5. This chapter makes it clear that the Bible is totally honest about the evil that lurks in every heart. There is no coverup of the sinfulness of God's chosen people. We need not be in wonder and shock when we read of Christians who do the most wicked things, for they are free to rebel against God's will, and follow the path of their own emotions and lusts. The Bible deals with real life, and not honey covered myths that hide the sinfulness of God's people. Parts of the Bible that are avoided, such as this chapter, need to be expounded so believers know the extent to which they can fall without the guidance of God's Word. Ron Clark wrote, “My clergy trainings with Communities Against Domestic Violence (CADV); a non-profit organization committed to creating awareness in our communities, have focused on faith communities and leadership. Faith communities are viewed as being slow to respond to abuse and sexual assault. Faith communities do not teach and preach texts such as Genesis 34. Is this silence similar to Jacob’s?” 6. I John 2:15-16, ““Do not love the world, not the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the father is not in him for all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life is not from the father but is of the world.” It is the opinion of some that this is the key value to be learned from this godless chapter. When the Christian becomes too close to the world, and lets the love of the world draw them into its mold, it leads to Christians becoming even more wicked than the world, for they pervert their faith in conforming to the world, and lose the discipline to control their emotions and drives to conform to the will of God. Jacob and his whole family were seduced and raped by the world around them, for they lost the spirit of God that would enable them to live in peace with the world without becoming like the world, which is exactly the lesson that the life of Jesus teaches us all. 7. A clear purpose of such a horror story is that of making us all aware of the utter folly of taking things into our own hands, and going off hot headed to seek revenge. We need to leave revenge in the hands of God, and when we do act it is to be according to the laws of justice that God has built into human thinking. Later God gave laws to guide Israel, but even here before that law mankind had an understanding of what was justice. These sons of Jacob went off half cocked and took revenge to a level no people on earth would ever conceive as just. That is what revengeful hate will do. It will lead to an extreme. If you ever feel like getting revenge, take it to the Lord immediately and work out a way to relieve that dangerous tension, for to take matters into you own hands will lead you to become a fool, and make your name stink in the minds of all who become aware of you. Sproul, “Simeon and Levi warn us against going too far when we seek to right a wrong. John Calvin comments on Genesis 34:7: “We must beware, lest, after we have become severe judges in condemning the faults of others, we hasten inconsiderately into evil.” Scott Grant adds, “Let us not forget that the Old Testament injunction of “an eye for an eye” was meant to limit the punishment so that it did not exceed the crime. The law mitigated against the tendency to overreact.” (Exodus 21:24, Leviticus 24:20). 8. Dr. Robert Rayburn, “The wise, discerning, practiced Christian never imagines that he has mastered the Christian life. He knows he is nearly as far from true godliness as on the day he began his pilgrimage. That is the overarching lesson of this chapter, along with those chapters that have gone before it and will come after it. Our dependence upon the grace and forgiveness of God, upon his faithfulness to his promises, is the great, unifying theme of all of this material.” 9. Keith Krell sees the lesson of this chapter as a clear warning about compromise that is actually outright disobedience to the known will of God. Jacob was to get back to Bethel, but he stopped along the way and settled in the midst of a pagan community, and this compromise was the cause of this most godless chapter. Krell wrote, “In Genesis 34, we come to an awful chapter—not only in the book of Genesis—but also in the history of mankind. ow, we know that the Bible was not written as chapters. Rather, chapters were added later for ease of use. But we do know that in this entire account (which makes up this chapter), God’s name is absent. It is made worse by being the only chapter in the Bible, outside the book of Esther, where the name of God is not even mentioned. However, throughout the book of Esther we see the fingerprints of God. This is not the case in Genesis 34. In this passage, we do not see God’s name or His influence. This is a passage filled with sin, excess, and godlessness. Yet, this story serves to warn us of the high price of compromise. The tragedies that take place in this chapter are the result of Jacob’s failure to be obedient to God’s command to return to Bethel (28:21; 31:3, 13). That single act of compromise cost his daughter dearly and put the rest of the covenant family of God at risk. What a chilling reminder that half-hearted obedience can be just as deadly as disobedience.” Footnotes: a. b. c. d. Genesis 34:7 Or against Genesis 34:10 Or move about freely ; also in verse 21 Genesis 34:17 Hebrew daughter Genesis 34:27 Or because