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Chapter 34

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Dinah And the Shechemites (ch. 34:1 31)      


In verse 1 we see Dinah mentioned.  In Genesis 30:21 we see that Dinah was born from Leah.  Here in verse 1 she goes out and visits with her friends where she lived.  These were not part of her family, but were part of the people who lived in this area before Jacob had moved to this location. 


In verse 2 a man named Shechem raped Dinah while she was away from home.  Shechem was the son of the ruler of that area.  So he was an important person.  This is the beginning of problems for Jacob and his family while in the area where they should not have been.  God wanted them in Bethel , and they're not in Bethel.  It's Abraham all over again.  God wanted Abraham in Canaan, and he moved to Egypt, causing all sorts of problems.  Jacob and his family will incur all sorts of problems too.


Verse 3 may sound strange.  It tells us that Shechem loved Dinah.  That sounds strange coming from a man who has raped her.   Nevertheless, Shechem tells his father, the ruler of the land, to get Diana for his wife.  I think things would have gone better all around if he would have just asked his father to get Dinah for his wife instead of raping her.


We see in verse 5 that when Jacob heard that Dinah was raped his sons were in the fields with their livestock.  Jacob kept quiet about this until his sons returned.  Verse 7 states that the sons left the field as soon as they heard the news.  They were furious. 


It's a little too late, but Hamor, Schechem's father, asks Jacob for Dinah.  You can imagine how Jacob would have felt hearing this request. 


In verse 7 we see that the brothers of Dinah upon returning home, were both grieved and furious.  The text states that such a disgraceful act "was a thing that should not have been done."  Even though there was much immorality in those days, rape was not considered acceptable, even in a man's world as it was back then.


Verse 8 suggests to me that Hamor was begging Jacob for Dinah.  He said that his son "had his heart set on her".  He said, "please" give Dinah to Shechem.  Was Shechem's heart set on her, or was his hormones raging?  It's hard to say. 


In verses 9 and 10 Hamor tells Jacob to allow intermarriage.  He suggests that they can be one big happy family.  They can work together, trade together, and live together.  It would be more than a marriage between Shechem and Dinah, but a marriage between two cultures.  Israel has always had this problem, that is, the marriage between them and others, something that God specifically said no to.  The church and individual Christians have done the same by marrying ourselves with the world.      


Verse 11 sure shows the nerve of Shechem.  He says to Jacob and to the brothers that if he could find favour in their eyes, he would give them anything to have Dinah as his wife.  Well, after raping Dinah, I'm not sure how Shechem can expect to find favour in Jacob and his son's eyes.  He repeats himself in verse 12 when he says, "just name the price".  Whatever it takes, he will give in order to have Dinah as his wife. 


I can't really say what is going through Shechem's mind, but his understanding of women must be pretty low, and it makes me wonder how much in love he really was with Dinah.  If he expected Jacob to hand over his daughter for a price, that doesn't speak well of how he feels about women.  If Jacob would have done that, it wouldn't speak well of how he felt about women either.  I know that was a man's world back then, and women were less important than men, but this would be going farther than the cultural norm in my thinking.   Men did provide a dowry to the father of the bride in those days, but the attitude expressed by Shechem seemed to be more of a purchase of Dinah than providing a dowry.  Part of the reason for a dowry was to provide security for the woman in case her husband died.  Her father would have the dowry to help her out, much like an insurance policy.     


Shechem seems to have the feeling that he can pay his way out of his problems.  If he can just pay the price, Jacob's family will forgive him.  This shows his arrogance and lack of respect and good will.   


Verse 13 tells us that Jacob's sons replied to this request in a "deceitful" way, something that they surely learned from their father, the master of deceit.


The brothers turned down the request, not based on the fact that Shechem had raped Dinah, but based on the fact that Shechem and the men in his society were not circumcised.   We know that God told Abraham that all his descendents must be circumcised or else they would be cut off from among Abraham's descendents.  On the other hand, God did allow for foreigners to join Israel if they were circumcised.  


In verses 15 through 18 the brothers state their position.  They are willing to give Dinah to Shechem, and also willing to live together in harmony, even to the extent of marrying wives from Shechem's community.  There was just one condition, and that was every man among Shechem's people must be circumcised.   This is where the deceit comes in as we will see later.  The brothers were not really interested in making a deal.  They had other plans in mind.  The brothers were actually using something that was from God, that is, circumcision, to help them in their deceit. 


In verse 18 we learn that this proposal seemed good to Hamor and Shechem, so in n verse 20 Hamor, Shechem and the other men of their city went to the gate of the city to talk this over.  In those days such city wide gatherings were usually held at the gates to cities.  City gates were like our town halls today.


It appears to me that Shechem had more hormones than brains.  He jumped at the idea of everyone getting circumcised.  I don't see Shechem being a very bright individual.  He appears to be arrogant, selfish, thoughtless, and stupid.  


The discussion that took place at the city gate is seen in verses 21 through 23.  The plan was a full amalgamation between the two groups of people.  Hamor and his people thought they would gain financially from the deal because Jacob's livestock would be as good as theirs.  The important thing to note here is that this deal was not meant simply to exchange women.  It was an integration of two peoples, something God had always said was not to be.  Israel was to remain distinct and not inter-marry. 


The decision was made in verse 24.  Hamor and his men decided to be circumcised.  Remember, these are grown men who were willing to be circumcised.  This must have meant lots to these men. 


Verse 25 explains why the plan that was devised by the sons of Jacob was deceptive.  The test states that three days after the men were circumcised, Simeon and Levi went into the city and killed all the men.  The verse says that the men were still in pain because of the circumcision.  Some medical people suggest that the third day after such a procedure is the worse day for pain.  It is clear that Simeon and Levi would have known this.  So once again, deception rules in God's people.   Even though Dinah was raped, this was no way to respond, as we will see.


In verse 26 we see that Simeon and Levi stabbed Hamor and Shechem and took Dinah from Shechem's house.  Apparently she had been living with him prior to the deal being formalized.  I'm not sure why she was living with Shechem.  You would think she wouldn't want to live with him.  I wonder if she was living with him against her will.  


In verses 27 through 29 we see that the two sons didn't just kill the men.  They took all their possessions and even their women.  It was literally a war zone.


Jacob is not happy at all with what Simeon and Levi did  as seen in verse 31.  He is now afraid that other people who live in Canaan will be upset and attack them, and he would be outnumbered.  He now fears for his life again, and not only his but for all of his family and also his possessions.  Once again, Jacob is an alien in the land that should have been his all along. 


Verse 31 closes this with the response of Simeon and Levi.  They simply asked, "should he have treated our sister as a prostitute."  They were simply saying that Shechem got what he deserved,  But the point is that they went a little overboard in response to one man's deed.  They killed all the men, took their women and possessions, just because of one man's wrong.  Their response is definitely not in line with the sin, as grievous as their sin was.



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