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Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

July 6, 2016

Genesis 34:1:31

  1. Recapping from last month. Genesis 33:18-20. After splitting off from Esau, Jacob crossed the Jordan River and moved his family into the land of Canaan. He chose “Shechem” (“peaceful”) as his home. Although purchasing the land and erecting an altar were acts of faith, Jacob errs in settling into the land of Shechem. He made a vow to worship the Lord at Bethel when he returned to the Promised Land (28:20-22), but it takes him at least ten years to fulfill this vow. Why did Jacob choose Shechem when he was told by God to settle in Bethel (35:1)? Verse 18 states, “Now Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem.” Jacob may have felt safe there, but feared returning to the southern part of Canaan, where his father was, because of continuing fears of Esau, who frequented that region. In spite of Esau's warm greeting, Jacob probably didn’t trust him. Those who are treacherous, like Jacob, often think others will be treacherous. But while Jacob was afraid of Esau, he wasn't afraid of staying in Succoth, outside the land, or of buying property in Shechem, where his family would be morally polluted. He was afraid of the wrong things! God had promised to protect Jacob if he obeyed; but Jacob felt he was safer in a place of partial obedience than to risk trusting the Lord by obeying completely.

  2. Intro to Genesis 34. In Genesis 34, we come to an awful chapter. In this passage, we do not see God’s name or His influence. This is a passage filled with sin, excess, and godlessness. Yet, this story serves to warn us of the high price of compromise. The tragedies that take place in this chapter are the result of Jacob’s failure to be obedient to God's command to return to Bethel (28:21; 31:3, 13). That single act of compromise cost his daughter dearly and put the rest of the covenant family of God at risk. What a chilling reminder that half-hearted obedience can be just as deadly as disobedience.

  3. Verse 1. Dinah is in her early teens and she is Jacob's only daughter (30:21). The story reminds us that Dinah is “the daughter of Leah”—the “unloved” wife of Jacob (29:31, 33). Therefore, it is likely that Jacob paid little attention to Dinah. This apparently led her to explore other avenues for attention and affection. This is supported by the fact that 34:1 is written in a matter-of-fact way, giving the indication that this is not Dinah's first trip into the city. Most likely, Dinah hung out with the daughters of the land and their male counterparts. Yet, in biblical times, girls of marriageable age were not permitted to leave the tents of their people to go about visiting without a chaperone. Interestingly, the Hebrew word translated “went out” (yatsa) also bears a sense of impropriety. Like many teenage daughters down throughout time, it would appear that Dinah went out on the town behind her parents’ back. Jacob failed to keep his daughter near home. This was not like now, a father in those days could have complete control over his daughter. Her ability to move around freely was a commentary on Jacob's inattentiveness.

  4. Verses 2-4. Shechem is the name of the city in which they live. It is also the name of the son of Hamor, who is the prince, the leader of that part of the world. As Hamor's son, Shechem was probably very powerful. He could have had whatever he wanted, any of the daughters of Hamor that he wanted, any of the daughters of Shechem that he wanted, but when he saw Dinah, she was the one he wanted. Unfortunately, in his lust, he raped her. After his rape of Dinah, something very unusual happened--he genuinely fell in love with her. In the course of two verses, we see the two sides to Shechem's personality. In 34:3, Moses writes that Shechem loves Dinah and speaks tenderly to her; in 34:4 he orders his father to get him this young girl. This guy is used to getting everything he wants. His privilege doesn't consider anyone else's feeling. He is driven by his greed and his lust. He thinks he can force her to marry him and she will just be okay with that and her family would be okay as well.

  5. Verses 5-7. Instead of being outraged Jacob responds very passively. He might have been afraid. The natural and expected response would be anger or rage; but Jacob “kept silent.” He appears too indifferent, afraid or confused to act decisively. Why isn't Jacob more outraged? Why doesn't he act in behalf of his daughter? Jacob is probably afraid that he will be harmed if he doesn't cater to this other family. Instead of taking control of a dangerous situation, Jacob let Dinah's brothers handle things. In 34:7, Jacob's callous indifference toward Dinah and her brothers fueled his sons’ fury. Apparently, Jacob does not view the travesty as important enough to send word to his sons. But when they do finally hear about it, they are steamed! The word for “grieved” (atsab) is found elsewhere only for God's reaction to human wickedness (Gen 6:6). These proper emotions are assigned to the brothers, not to Jacob. The brothers express a righteous indignation. Amidst their fury, Jacob's sons responded properly to the demeaning of Israel as well as Dinah. They understood that because Jacob had become Israel at Peniel, the rape of his daughter was a crime against Israel, as a people, seeing that the relationship of Israel to God had been ignored and abused. Tragically, their father, Jacob, had neither stood up for his daughter or his God! Rape is sin and it has affected the lives of countless ladies, some whom you and I know personally. If you have been sexually assaulted or molested, you have been sinned against horribly. On behalf of godly men, I express my anger and grief over what happened to you. My heart breaks for you.

  6. Verses 8-12. Hamor and Shechem both do not offer an apology. Apparently, they assume that the offense is no big deal. After all, this is how Shechemites behave. In essence Hamor says, “no hard feelings. Let's all get married, and be one, big, happy family.” Hamor offers an alliance between the two peoples. To include intermarriage, trade, and land deals. Yet, despite his peace treaty, Hamor asks Jacob and his sons to agree to join families. The son Shechem even tries to use his money as a way to appease the men. Oftentimes wealthy people think they can buy their way out of a problem. Shechem assumes these men don't value their sister's virtue. What he doesn't know is that they are seeking to exact revenge.

  7. Verses 13-17. Since Jacob was not going to be talking, “Jacob's sons answered Shechem and his father Hamor with deceit, because he had defiled Dinah their sister. They said to them, ‘we cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one who is uncircumcised, for that would be a disgrace to us.” As was customary in their culture, Jacob's sons took an active part in approving their sister's marriage (34:13; cf. 24:50). Moses says, the boys answered “with deceit.” Deceit runs deep in this family, and nobody knows it better than Jacob. And now his sons are just “chips off the old block.” Hence, the description “Jacob's sons” rather than “Dinah's brothers.” The sons are just following in their father's deceitful footsteps. Instead of seeking justice, these men will seek revenge. Jacob's silence is even more evil than his sons’ schemes. His sons proposed intermarriage with the Canaanites only as a means to induce them to be circumcised so that they could be killed easily. Jacob silently and passively accepted the agreement with the people of Shechem, fully expecting to carry it out. Jacob planned to allow his descendants to intermarry with the Canaanites, but his sons had no such intention. Jacob, in comparison with his sons, is even guiltier than they! Jacob's willingness to intermarry with the Canaanites is a direct violation of the instructions, which his father had given him (28:1-4).

  8. Verses 18-24. In these verses we see how powerful Hamor and Shechem were in the town. Because of Shechem’s singular desire to have this young girl he convinces the entire town of men to be circumcised. He is not thinking at all. It never occurred to him, that these men would use this time to kill them.

  9. Verses 25-29. When the men of Shechem are weak and vulnerable, Jacob's sons take matters into their own hands. The wholesale murder of the men of Shechem, the looting of the city, and the imprisonment of the women and children of the city was exponential revenge. Instead of seeking justice against one, they seek revenge against the guilty and the innocent.

  10. Verses 30-31. All Jacob can think of is his own reputation. His ego has been hurt, and he thinks only of his lowered standing among the local inhabitants. His selfish response is highlighted by his use of “me,” or “my,” and “I” no less than eight times in most versions. Never mind the fact that his daughter has been raped, that every male citizen of Shechem has been slaughtered, or that the city itself had been plundered, and that its women and children had been taken captive. His concerns are tactical and strategic, rather than ethical.

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