Text: Genesis 34:1-31
Genesis 34 is the account of the defiling of Jacob’s daughter Dinah, and how Israel responds to this tragedy.
Though we might feel eager to hurry through the scandalous material in the chapter, God doesn’t seem to feel the same as he inspires Moses to write this. Moses devotes 31 verses to this event! Why? What does this chapter teach us about Israel, about ourselves, and about God?
The primary issue in Genesis 34 is this: how do God’s people respond when He allows suffering in their lives? Will they trust God’s covenant promises, or look to their own solutions? And this, of course, is a question that is still imminently relevant today.
I. Tragedy Strikes Jacob’s Family (vv.1-12)
- v.1 Is there a negative connotation to Dinah’s going out to ‘see the women of the land’? Perhaps, because the only other use of that phrase is Rebekah’s warning that she doesn’t want her son Jacob to take a wife from among ‘the women of the land.’
- However, at least to some extent this situation arises because Jacob is obeying God, is living in the Promised Land that God had commanded him to inhabit.
- Perhaps Dinah’s motivation is wrong in mixing with the women of the land, but certainly their being surrounded by such people in the first place comes as a result of obedience on their part.
- vv.2-4 regardless of what Dinah’s reasons for being among the people of the city were, she absolutely did not deserve Schechem’s forceful abuse of her.
- Although several situations of a similar nature are recorded in Scripture, such behavior is utterly, universally condemned by Scripture.
- However, we must wrestle with the fact that – both in Scripture and in our lives – God does allow unspeakably painful/personal injuries to occur.
- In vv.5-12 although Hamor comes to ask Jacob for Dinah’s hand for his son Schechem, Jacob’s sons are enraged when they hear how their sister was treated, and seem to take over the conversation.
- In fact, it becomes evident later that Jacob is unaware and disapproving of how his sons handle the situation.
- Hamor not only begs for Dinah’s hand, but invites all of Jacob’s family to live among them, marry among them, and basically become one of them.
– Shechem twice insists ‘name your price, and I will give whatever you ask.’
II. Jacob’s Sons Plot Their Revenge (vv.13-24)
- v.13 informs us that Jacob’s sons answer, from the beginning, with an end in mind: they answer ‘deceitfully’, because he had defiled their sister Dinah. They have murder/revenge in their heart!
- Without condoning the deceptive actions of Jacob’s sons in this chp, it is helpful to at least consider the difficulty of their predicament.
- So in vv.14-17 the brothers state a half-truth, that circumcision is required to be counted among their people. Yet they use that truth for their own ends, rather than for the redemptive purpose for which it was designed.
- vv.18-24 let us know that, for their part, Hamor, Schechem, and the people of the city were just as scheming, deceitful, and selfish as Jacob’s sons were.
- They are deceived into thinking v.21 ‘these men are at peace w/ us.’
- Ironically, the way that Hamor and Schechem convince the men of the city to be circumcised is with the enticing promise in v.23 that every possession of Jacob and his sons will eventually be theirs.
- Their motive was clearly not genuine but greedy. And to what extremes greed will drive people! In v.24.
III. Simeon & Levi Get Their Revenge (vv.25-31)
- In vv.25-29 altho all of Jacob’s sons were involved in the deception, and are engaged in the plundering of the city, Simeon and Levi are the ones who perform the execution of all the males in the city.
- If you recall Jacob’s family tree, they are the full brothers of Dinah.
- In response to the violation of their sister, Simeon and Levi commit nothing less than genocide. Although their anger is understandable, their actions are inexcusable.
- In v.30 Jacob shows his deep disagreement, with their plot and methods, specifically expressing concern about the fact that this event will make Israel ‘stink to the inhabitants of the land.’
- Jacob’s rebuke to Simeon & Levi is put even stronger, later in Ge 49:5-7.
- “Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel…”
- Yet v.31 closes the chpt w/ them unapologetic. Simeon & Levi got their way/their revenge, but lost God’s blessing!
- Clearly, Jacob’s sons are just as much in need of God’s mercy as Jacob was.
- This gives a backdrop, then, for how Jacob’s sons will later treat their brother Joseph.
- In Gen 34 we are reminded, once again, that God’s people are certainly never redeemed because of their own worthiness, or as a result of their own efforts toward self-salvation.
- In fact, God’s people are redeemed in spite of their unworthiness; and, being redeemed, they will be saved from these vain efforts toward self-salvation.