Chapter 34

Dinah Defiled

“Remember, Jacob brought his family to a place God didn’t really want them to be. It seems God directed him to return to Bethel (Genesis 31:13), and his time spent in the city of Shechem did much harm to his family… Jacob chose a place to live for all the wrong reasons. He wanted to be close to the city (Genesis 33:18), though the city was ungodly. God called him to Bethel. Jacob’s poor choice of a place to live left his family open to ungodly influence.” (Guzik)

-One day Dinah went out to visit some of the young women in the area. The prince of the region, Schechem (Hamor the Hivite’s son), saw her and raped her.

      • NLT Illustrated Study Bible notes, “Her seemingly innocent, but unguarded visit to some of the young women who lived in the area was naive and foolish, because the local Hivites were very corrupt, not safe or trustworthy.”

      • Morris sheds a little light on the pagan culture of the day, “Unattached young women were considered fair game in cities of the time, in which promiscuity was not only common but, in fact, a part of the very religious system itself.”

      • Leupold also comments on the state of the Canaanite culture, “This occurrence serves to illustrate the low standard of morals prevalent among the Canaanites. Any unattended female could be raped, and in the transactions that ensue neither father nor son feel the need of apologizing for or excusing what had been committed.”

    • Then Shechem fell in love with Dinah and tried to win her affection by speaking tenderly to her. He told his father, Hamor, to get Dinah for him as his wife.

      • “It was a soulish love Shechem had for Dinah, not a spiritual or godly love. He loved her for what she could be and give to him, not for what he could be and give to her. His heart is shown in the words get me this young woman as a wife. It was a soulish “get me” kind of love…It is possible for a man to be attracted to a woman and to show kindness to her for reasons having nothing or little to do with love. In their desire to connect romantically with a man, women often forget this.” (Guzik)

    • Jacob heard about what had happened to Dinah first, but he kept quiet because his sons were still out in the field with the cattle.

    • Before Jacob’s sons had returned from the field, Hamor came to talk to Jacob.

    • While Hamor was still with Jacob, Dinah’s brothers returned from the field and were furious to hear that Dinah had been raped. Schechem’s rape was a disgraceful atrocity toward Jacob’s family.

-NLT Illustrated Study Bible notes how Jacob’s lack of action contributed to how her brothers responded, “Jacob’s response to this crime is surprising. When he heard that Dinah had been defiled, he said nothing about it until his sons came home. Because Jacob did not act, his sons did, though without the wisdom and integrity necessary for justice.”

      • Jacob’s restraint and Dinah’s brother’s outrage seems like somewhat of a reversal of roles in our culture, but Guzik notes the difference in this ancient culture, “In this culture, the brothers had a greater responsibility to protect their sister than the father. They will “protect” Dinah’s honor in unwise and sinful ways.”

    • Hamor said to Jacob’s sons, “My son Schechem is in love with Dinah. Please let him marry her. Let our families intermarry. You give us your daughters for our sons and we’ll give our daughters to your sons. The land is open for you to live among us. Settle here, buy property, and trade with us.”

    • Then Schechem himself spoke to Dinah’s father and brothers, “Le me marry Dinah and I’ll give you whatever you want. You name the bride price and I’ll pay it- just let me marry her.”

      • “Hamor and Shechem probably thought themselves generous. But their manner of negotiating the arrangement of the marriage insulted Dinah and her family even more with a “just name your price” attitude. They acted as if money and marriage could make her disgrace go away.” (Guzik)

    • Scheming, Jacob’s sons answered Hamor and Schechem deceitfully, “We could not possibly allow Dinah to marry Schechem because he is not circumcised which, according to our beliefs, is disgraceful. However, if you will agree to have all your men circimcised then we can intermarry and become one people. If you refuse, we’ll take Dinah and leave.”

      • “Simeon and Levi have evil intention in this plan. Yet they cover it up with spiritual words, and used Dinah as a cover for their intended evil…They felt justified because the men of Shechem treated their sister as a prostitute (Genesis 34:31), but they prostituted the sign of God’s covenant for their own murderous purpose.” (Guzik)

    • These terms were acceptable to Hamor and Schechem so they proceeded to fulfill this requirement immediately because Schechem was in such a hurry to marry Dinah.

      • Guzik points out, “Hamor and Shechem agreed to such an extremem demand because because circumcision was not only practiced among the Israelites – other ancient peoples also had the practice. Therefore they knew of the practice from the rituals of other nations.”

    • Schechem and Hamor went to their city gate to speak to their city leaders.

    • They told the city leaders, “These men mean us no harm, they are peaceful. This region is large enough for all of us, so let’s allow them to live here and move about as they please. We can intermarry with them on the condition that our men agree to be circumcised like they are. If we do this, all of their herds and possessions will be ours as well.”

    • Schechem was a very respected member of his family, so the men listened to him and they all agreed to be circumcised.

      • NLT Illustrated Study Bible notes, “The Canaanites accepted this stipulation…not just to allow Schechem to marry Dinah, but to give them the opportunity to acquire everything that Jacob possessed (34:23).

    • The third day following the circumcision of the men in the town, while they were still in pain, Jacob’s sons Simeon and Levi attacked the city by surprise and killed every single male, Hamor and Schechem included, and brought Dinah back home.

    • Then Jacob’s other sons came and plundered the city, taking all of the livestock, all their possessions, and captured all the women and children.

      • HCSB Commentary notes, “Jacob’s sons, in their deceit at Schechem, employed the divine covenant sign of circumcision (17:10-14) as a means of ambushing the men of the city. Their looting the city and taking of its wives and children, for which they evidenced no shame or repentance (34:30-31), would cause the descendants of Simeon and Levi to be dispersed among Israel with no definite allotment of territory through their father’s deathbed pronouncement (49:5-7).”

    • Afterward, Jacob told Simeon and Levi, “You have caused me so much trouble! Now all the Canaanites and Perizzites in the land think we are repulsive. They outnumber us greatly. If they come together and attack me, my entire household will be destroyed.”

      • “ Sadly, Jacob is only concerned with himself. There is no concern for God’s righteousness or the death and plunder of innocents. This is Jacob, not Israel in action.” (Guzik)

      • Barnhouse pulls no punches and tells Jacob like it is, “Jacob! You brought that trouble on yourself. You passed your own deceitful nature into your boys. You set them a constant example of guile. They heard you lie to Esau at Peniel and start northwest after he went southeast. They saw your interest in the fat pastures when you pitched your tent in Shechem. You said nothing when Dinah was violated … Talk to God about your own sin before talking to these boys about theirs.”

    • Simeon and Levi answer angrily, “Why should we let him treat our sister like a prostitute?”

      • “The prophetic word of God through Jacob proved true. God did in fact both divide the tribes of Simeon and Levi, and scatter them among Israel. But, significantly, the way it happened for each tribe was different. The tribe of Simeon, because of their lack of faithfulness, was effectively dissolved as a tribe, and the tribe of Simeon was absorbed into the tribal area of Judah. The tribe of Levi was also scattered, but because of the faithfulness of this tribe during the rebellion of the golden calf (Exodus 32:26-28), the tribe was scattered as a blessing throughout the whole nation of Israel. Both were scattered, but one as a blessing and the other as curse.” (Guzik)