Archive for July 8th, 2011

Genesis 34

Genesis 34 gives us the story of Dinah – the lone daughter of Jacob and Leah.  Jacob and his folks are on their way home and come to the land of the Hivites.  Shechem, son of Hamor, is the prince there.  He sees Dinah and “lay with her and humiliated her” – in other words he raped her and took her to be his own.  Shechem is obsessed with Dinah and wants her as his wife, so asks his dad Hamor to make that happen.  Hamor goes to Jacob with the request.  Now Jacob is pretty much home alone – the boys are all out tending the flocks and he has to bite his tongue and wait for them to come home before determining what to do.  Hamor has asked that Dinah be given to Shechem, but more than that, for his men to be able to marry the daughters of Jacob’s tribe – some new and fresh women – and that the Israelites be able to marry the Hivite women.

Shechem really is serious.  He makes this offer: “Let me find favor in your eyes, and whatever you say to me I will give. Ask me for as great a bride price and gift as you will, and I will give whatever you say to me”. This isn’t about money – he is willing to give whatever Jacob and the brothers want.  He is obsessed with taking Dinah as his wife.  Had he taken a very different approach at the beginning it may have worked out for him – but because he allowed his passion and selfish desires to rule his action – the end result will not go well.

The brothers decide that they will deceive the Hivites this way: “Only on this condition will we agree with you – that you will become as we are by every male among you being circumcised”.  Seems like a pretty simple request doesn’t it?  Well, maybe not so simple, but the cost is not much in terms of dollars – just a little pain.  Hamor and Shechem convince all the men of the land to agree and they are circumcised – every male took part.  They all saw the opportunity for new women in their lives – and were driven by that desire to endure pain for future gain.

But then Simeon and Levi – two of Dinah’s brothers – took action.  The third day while they were all sore, these two took their sword and killed all the men in the land of the Hivites.  They plundered the city: “All their wealth, all their little ones and their wives, all that was in the houses, they captured and plundered”.  Of course the men were not able to respond and fight back – they were all home recovering from their recent circumcision – so they were easy targets.  Jacob is not amused – he knows that word will spread of this attack and other tribes will now hold the Israelites as a threat – potentially coming against them.  Of course the brothers justify their actions with “Should he treat our sister like a prostitute”?  The obvious answer is no – but the response may not have been quite as well thought through as it should have been.  That is often the case when we take things into our own hands and insist on doing it our own way.  Only God can repay evil.  When we retaliate on our own – things usually don’t go well.  We need to trust Him to make things right.

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