Genesis Chapter 34: Dinah and Shechem

Mar 9th, 2010 | By | Category: Genesis, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Genesis Chapter 34: Dinah and Shechem

Gen. 34:1 And Dinah the daughter of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land.

Gen. 34:2 And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her.

Gen. 34:3 And his soul clave unto Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the damsel, and spake kindly unto the damsel.

Gen. 34:4 And Shechem spake unto his father Hamor, saying, Get me this damsel to wife.

Gen. 34:5 And Jacob heard that he had defiled Dinah his daughter: now his sons were with his cattle in the field: and Jacob held his peace until they were come.

The age of Dinah might be a question. Leah had four sons: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah. Then she was barren for a while, during which time her handmaiden bore two more sons. After that Leah bore two additional sons: Issachar and Zebulun. Finally Dinah was born—the ninth child counting the handmaidens.

Of the 20 years that Jacob served Laban, no children were born the first seven years. That leaves 13 years for the nine to be born in, Dinah being the last. Up until this chapter, there was a connected chronological account with Jacob, but now there is a time gap. Jacob probably spent about six months in Succoth, where he made booths, and chapter 34 took place some years later. Also, from Succoth to Shechem (Nablus), Jacob would have made other stops, which took time. We are reading highlights that the Holy Spirit deemed significant to narrate.

At any rate, for Dinah to be old enough to be raped, and considering Mideast customs, Dinah had to be at least age 14, and maybe a year or two older.

Comment: Based on comments in subsequent verses, it would seem that none of the brothers had yet taken a wife. As a unit, or family, they were not mixing with the people of the land. Therefore, in verse 1, when Dinah “went out to see the daughters of the land,” her action led to an incident. It would have been better for her to remain with the lineage God was protecting.

Reply: Yes, she wandered.

Comment: Jacob had probably told his children to stay separate, for he and Isaac, his father, had specially selected wives from the proper lineage. Therefore, Dinah’s venturing out, even for friendship, was unwise.

Reply: If she was not specifically told, at least reasonable inference, based on the history of the family, should have forewarned her.

Shechem, a Hivite, son of Hamor, had defiled Dinah, but he truly wanted her for his wife and spoke to his father to this end. It was proper for him to get parental assent, and Hamor agreed to Shechem’s request. Meanwhile, Jacob was apprised of the situation, and his sons were in the field with the cattle.

“Jacob held his peace until they [his sons] were come.” Jacob refrained from action, waiting for his sons to come out of the field. He waited to hear the other side of the situation, for, after all, Dinah had wandered into Hivite territory. Hamor was “prince of the country,” and Shechem was important too, being Hamor’s son, so this was no small incident.

Gen. 34:6 And Hamor the father of Shechem went out unto Jacob to commune with him.

Gen. 34:7 And the sons of Jacob came out of the field when they heard it: and the men were grieved, and they were very wroth, because he had wrought folly in Israel in lying with Jacob’s daughter; which thing ought not to be done.

Gen. 34:8 And Hamor communed with them, saying, The soul of my son Shechem longeth for your daughter: I pray you give her him to wife.

Gen. 34:9 And make ye marriages with us, and give your daughters unto us, and take our daughters unto you.

Gen. 34:10 And ye shall dwell with us: and the land shall be before you; dwell and trade ye therein, and get you possessions therein.

Gen. 34:11 And Shechem said unto her father and unto her brethren, Let me find grace in your eyes, and what ye shall say unto me I will give.

Shechem accompanied Hamor in trying to resolve the situation peacefully. Hamor said that Shechem wanted to consummate the matter in a legitimate marriage, and he offered to do whatever was required to heal the breach of conduct. Hamor also proposed that intermarriage continue even further between his people (the Hivites) and Jacob’s family. Meanwhile, Jacob’s sons were very angry and not amenable to a peaceful solution.

Hamor further proposed trading between the two peoples. Being a prince, he would have been wealthy, and Jacob had many possessions. No doubt Hamor felt that the trading would bring him more prosperity. And since Hamor and the Hivites were more powerful and numerous than Jacob and his sons and servants, Hamor would still be in control; that is, he would not be jeopardized by such an arrangement. Otherwise, he would not have made the proposal.

Gen. 34:12 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.

Gen. 34:13 And the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father deceitfully, and said, because he had defiled Dinah their sister:

Gen. 34:14 And they said unto them, We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one that is uncircumcised; for that were a reproach unto us:

Gen. 34:15 But in this will we consent unto you: If ye will be as we be, that every male of you be circumcised;

Gen. 34:16 Then will we give our daughters unto you, and we will take your daughters to us, and we will dwell with you, and we will become one people.

Gen. 34:17 But if ye will not hearken unto us, to be circumcised; then will we take our daughter, and we will be gone.

Gen. 34:18 And their words pleased Hamor, and Shechem Hamor’s son.

Gen. 34:19 And the young man deferred not to do the thing, because he had delight in Jacob’s daughter: and he was more honourable than all the house of his father.

The sons of Jacob deceitfully responded to Shechem and Hamor’s proposition, saying that the Hivites would have to be circumcised. Shechem and Hamor agreed. Simeon and Levi (verse 25) may have been the ringleaders of the deceit.

Shechem was commended as being “more honourable than all the house of his father.” He was sincerely trying to make the situation right, and he did not defer to be circumcised. Hamor had ulterior motives in regard to trade and wealth but not Shechem, who just wanted an honorable marriage.

Gen. 34:20 And Hamor and Shechem his son came unto the gate of their city, and communed with the men of their city, saying,

Gen. 34:21 These men are peaceable with us; therefore let them dwell in the land, and trade therein; for the land, behold, it is large enough for them; let us take their daughters to us for wives, and let us give them our daughters.

Shechem and Hamor went back to their city to mention the circumcision proposal to the other Hivites. They related that Jacob’s family was “peaceable.” For intermarriage and intertrade, the stipulation was circumcision. Jacob had dwelled in that land for a while now, so they judged that he was peaceable.

Gen. 34:22 Only herein will the men consent unto us for to dwell with us, to be one people, if every male among us be circumcised, as they are circumcised.

Gen. 34:23 Shall not their cattle and their substance and every beast of theirs be ours? Only let us consent unto them, and they will dwell with us.

Gen. 34:24 And unto Hamor and unto Shechem his son hearkened all that went out of the gate of his city; and every male was circumcised, all that went out of the gate of his city.

Hamor revealed his real desire—to get all of Jacob’s wealth, flocks, etc.

Gen. 34:25 And it came to pass on the third day, when they were sore, that two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brethren, took each man his sword, and came upon the city boldly, and slew all the males.

Gen. 34:26 And they slew Hamor and Shechem his son with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah out of Shechem’s house, and went out.

Gen. 34:27 The sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and spoiled the city, because they had defiled their sister.

Gen. 34:28 They took their sheep, and their oxen, and their asses, and that which was in the city, and that which was in the field,

Gen. 34:29 And all their wealth, and all their little ones, and their wives took they captive, and spoiled even all that was in the house.

Gen. 34:30 And Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, Ye have troubled me to make me to stink among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites: and I being few in number, they shall gather themselves together against me, and slay me; and I shall be destroyed, I and my house.

Gen. 34:31 And they said, Should he deal with our sister as with an harlot?

On the third day after the circumcision, when the Hivite males were sore, Simeon and Levi slew all of them and took Dinah out of Shechem’s house. The other sons of Jacob came upon the slain and spoiled their city, taking their flocks, their wealth, their wives, and their little ones. Notice the statement in verse 3 that Shechem “spake kindly” to Dinah (“spake to the heart of the damsel”—King James margin). The suggestion is that even though Shechem took Dinah against her will, she was mollified somewhat by his nice words to her and hence agreed to be his wife.

Simeon and Levi were the second and third sons of Leah. Reuben, the oldest, would normally be the leader but not here. These were full brothers of Dinah. Later on it was Reuben who dissuaded his brothers from killing Joseph and said to put him in a pit instead, intending to get Joseph back to Jacob (Gen. 37:21,22). Hence on two occasions, Reuben had less guilt than his brothers. Simeon and Levi paid a penalty for this viciousness subsequently, at the time of Jacob’s deathbed prophecy (Gen. 49:5-7).

We are reminded of the incident at Jericho years later when all of the Israelite males were circumcised and the people of Jericho did not use the opportunity to defeat the Israelites, whom they feared. The restraint of the Jerichoites shows what respect they had for the Israelites’ deliverance through the Red Sea. Superstitious fear that they would be punished for harming the Israelites indisposed them in this moment of crisis for the Israelites and Joshua.

This was a sad situation with the Hivites. Dinah was even in Shechem’s house, so the marriage was to be an honorable one. And when the Hivite males (adults mostly) willingly submitted to the painful rite of circumcision, it was deplorable for Jacob’s sons to kill them.

Jacob was pacified by Shechem’s offer to marry Dinah, whereas his sons acted emotionally and improperly in saying, “Should he deal with our sister as with an harlot?” Jacob was right, but as the saying goes, with the passage of time, one cannot cry over spilled milk. Jacob could not put life back into the corpses.

The Law, given later, shows God’s thinking on such a matter. If an unmarried woman (that is, a virgin) was violated, the man had to marry her—and as soon as possible (Exod. 22:16; Deut. 22:28,29). A “shotgun wedding” approach does not excuse the circumstances, but it is the proper resolution of the situation. What Shechem was trying to do harmonized with how God saw the matter and with His law.

Comment: The reason for the insertion of this incident in Scripture could have been to show the Israelites how attempts at intermarriage caused problems.

Apparently, there was some responsibility on Dinah’s part because she initially went out sightseeing (to see “the daughters of the land”—Gen. 34:1). Her attitude and/or action might have been a factor in Jacob’s reasoning. What Jacob’s sons did was a “stink,” but what could he do now—go and kill his own sons?

Jacob remembered this incident to his dying day, especially the guilt of Simeon and Levi. He reasoned, “The damage is done, and it cannot be undone. If the Canaanites and the Perizzites hear what we did, they may consolidate their forces and decimate us as being much less in number. All of us will be destroyed.” Jacob and his family would now be viewed as intruders and aliens.

The sons tried to justify their slaughter of the Hivites because of what Shechem had done to Dinah. Since the account does not say that all of Jacob’s sons spoiled the city, the presumption is that Joseph was not present. Perhaps those who killed the Hivites were all of the sons who were full brothers of Dinah, that is, Leah’s six sons.

(1987–1989 Study)

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