< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: Genesis 34

Monday, May 25, 2015

Genesis 34

Genesis 34:1-31 Now Dinah, the daughter Leah had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the women of the land. 2 When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, the ruler of that area, saw her, he took her and raped her. 3 His heart was drawn to Dinah daughter of Jacob; he loved the young woman and spoke tenderly to her.4 And Shechem said to his father Hamor, “Get me this girl as my wife.”

5 When Jacob heard that his daughter Dinah had been defiled, his sons were in the fields with his livestock; so he did nothing about it until they came home.

6 Then Shechem’s father Hamor went out to talk with Jacob. 7 Meanwhile, Jacob’s sons had come in from the fields as soon as they heard what had happened. They were shocked and furious, because Shechem had done an outrageous thing in Israel by sleeping with Jacob’s daughter—a thing that should not be done.
8 But Hamor said to them, “My son Shechem has his heart set on your daughter. Please give her to him as his wife. 9 Intermarry with us; give us your daughters and take our daughters for yourselves. 10 You can settle among us; the land is open to you. Live in it, trade in it, and acquire property in it.”

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. 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 young woman as my wife.”

13 Because their sister Dinah had been defiled, Jacob’s sons replied deceitfully as they spoke to Shechem and his father Hamor. 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. 15 We will enter into an agreement with you on one condition only: that you become like us by circumcising all your males. 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. 17 But if you will not agree to be circumcised, we’ll take our sister and go.”

18 Their proposal seemed good to Hamor and his son Shechem. 19 The young man, who was the most honored of all his father’s family, lost no time in doing what they said, because he was delighted with Jacob’s daughter. 20 So Hamor and his son Shechem went to the gate of their city to speak to the men of their city. 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. 22 But the men will agree to live with us as one people only on the condition that our males be circumcised, as they themselves are. 23 Won’t their livestock, their property and all their other animals become ours? So let us agree to their terms, and they will settle among us.”

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.

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. 26 They put Hamor and his son Shechem to the sword and took Dinah from Shechem’s house and left. 27 The sons of Jacob came upon the dead bodies and looted the city where their sister had been defiled. 28 They seized their flocks and herds and donkeys and everything else of theirs in the city and out in the fields. 29 They carried off all their wealth and all their women and children, taking as plunder everything in the houses.

30 Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought trouble on me by making me obnoxious 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.”

31 But they replied, “Should he have treated our sister like a prostitute?

A comparison of scriptures indicates that Jacob must have stayed in Succoth and Shechem for several years, perhaps as many as 10. Jacob had made a vow back in Genesis 28:20-22 that if God kept him safe he would go back to Bethel. And he’s not doing that. Maybe because Scechem was quite a city at that time and there were many social amenities and comforts. But apparently his children got involved in this world and began to be conformed to the idolatrous customs there and abominable practices.

Jacob as head of the family was responsible to lead his family daily in their right relationship with God. And it seems like he wasn’t doing it.

Scripture doesn’t say why Dinah was going somewhere alone and unprotected. It’s estimated she was between 13 and 16 when this happened.  The Jewish historian Josephus says that she was on her way to a heathen feast of the Shechemites. In any event she should have known that Egyptians and Canaanites regarded unmarried women abroad in the land as their lawful prey and she shouldn’t have gone unattended.

Shechem, the son of Hamor, a tribal prince, found her alone and eventually took her into his house. And she may have gone willingly – the passage says he loved her. But let’s just say that the Israelites had different standards then the pagans.

Shechem wanted to make her his wife and approached Jacob about it, but according to the custom of that day, the father couldn’t act independently without the consent of the brothers of the girl who were considered mainly responsible for safeguarding her rights.

If the two families HAD co-mingled there would be no chosen people.

The brothers took matters into their own hands, probably without telling Jacob their plans. They were going to get revenge not just on the man who had defiled their sister, but against all the people of Shechem. When the men were healing from circumcision the brothers attacked and destroyed them, took their wives and children captive and confiscated their goods.

They behaved like pagans! Jacob was very angry. He strongly rebuked his sons for the trouble they had brought on him and upon their whole family. He also reminded them that compared to the Hivites, his family was few in number.

Simeon and Levi responded in self-defense that’s typical of many people today. Shechem’s sin forced them to do what they did! But we’re not to seek revenge. God says “Vengeance is mine. I will repay.” Even when someone sins against us it must not cause us to sin. The Holy Spirit has given us the Fruits of the Spirit: Peace, love, self-control, goodness, etc.

Jacob’s stern denunciation and God’s judgment regarding Simeon and Levi is only fully revealed on Jacob’s deathbed where Jacob’s verdict is recorded: “Cursed be their anger, so fierce, and their fury, so cruel!” To the end of his life Jacob would never forget their cruel massacre of the Shechemites. And those 2 tribes suffered God’s judgment. God ordained that neither would have territory which they could call their own. Ultimately, the Simeonites were swallowed up in the tribe of Judah. The Levites also had no inheritance. However later in their history the Levites moved forth in obedience to God. Eventually, God turned their judgment into blessing and they became the tribe of priests. So they still didn’t own real estate, but were honored with priesthood and taken care of.

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