Genesis 34: Like father, like sons…

My Bible study for today covered both Genesis 33 and 34, but my earlier post only really talked about chapter 33. So, I’ve decided to make another post today talking about this other chapter which is a great story, though extremely sad.

The story tells of how Shechem, a ruler in the area where Jacob had recently moved, took Jacob’s daughter Dinah and “violated” her. I’m not sure what this means specifically, but my first assumption is rape. I guess it is also possible that Shechem only slept with her before they were married, but this doesn’t really hold up, since it seems like sex was the act that started marriage back then.  But anyway, Shechem apparently wanted her as his wife – he asks his father to get her for him to have as a wife. Shechem is coming across as a spoiled, little rich kid – he wants Dinah, so he just takes her, and then he wants her for his wife, so he tells his father to get her for him. Jacob hears about the rape, and he knows trouble is coming (I mean, Dinah does have 11 brothers, most of them older than her!). He tries to keep it from his sons as long as possible, but apparently news travels fast in the fields, because they all found out and came in “filled with grief and fury.” They probably wanted to kill Shechem immediately, but instead they deceived him by saying that he and all his men would have to be circumcised before the marriage could occur. Shechem agreed (he must have really wanted to marry Dinah!), and he goes and gets it done on himself and all his men. Shortly afterwards, Simeon and Levi (Dinah’s blood brothers through their mother Leah) attack their city and killed every male. Then the other sons showed up and they plundered the city of all its women, children, livestock and other stuff.  Jacob then chastises Simeon and Levi, saying the the other nearby nations would hear of this attack and may turn and attack them. But the two brothers stand up for what they did, saying that they couldn’t allow Shechem to get away with treating their sister “like a prostitute.”

Now, I’m not sure of all the details in this story. Obviously, whether or not Dinah wanted to marry Shechem, whatever Shechem did to her angered her brothers greatly. One commentary I read said that it is believed that Dinah probably “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,” but I don’t know where they got these ideas. It’s not made plain in the chapter anyway. Their reasoning is that “there must have been time and opportunities of acquaintance to produce the strong attachment that Shechem had for her.”  I’m still not convinced…

What I did find interesting was that the apple’s of Jacob’s tree didn’t fall far from him. Where Jacob, in his youth, had twice used deception to get what he wanted, now his sons were using deception to get revenge on Shechem. And what is even more interesting is that their actions brought grief to Jacob.  I know that the Bible teaches that what we sow we will also reap, but I don’t know that it necessarily applies to this story. Jacob’s sons have obviously pulled a one over on Shechem and his men (by actually getting them to cut on their private parts before killing them!), and Jacob is worried he may reap the consequences of it. Only reading further will tell for sure…

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