Brow Publications, Kingston, Ontario (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org) 2004
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GENESIS 34:1-12 (Jacob’s daughter Dinah is raped)
34:1-4 Jacob had pitched his tent near the city of Shechem, and he was able to purchase from Hamor a wealthy landowner that plot of land for his family to settle (33:18-19). Hamor’s son Shechem is referred to as the “prince of the region” (34:2) and he was probably used to seizing anything or any woman he wanted. When he saw Jacob’s daughter Dinah visiting the women in the town, he raped her. But, instead of the revulsion that usually follows a rape, Shechem fell in love with Dinah, and he asked his father to arrange a marriage between them.
34:5-7 When Jacob’s ten sons came back from working in the fields they were furious that their sister had been raped. This is the first rape recorded in the Bible. The fact that “such a thing ought not to be done” (34:7) proves that from earliest times rape was forbidden (for a later example see 2 Samuel 13:1-14).
34:8-12 Hamor proposed a marriage arrangement and suggested that Jacob’s sons could marry some of the young women of his tribe. Shechem added that whatever Jacob demanded as a marriage present he would be glad to pay to have Dinah as his bride.
GENESIS 34:13-31 (The Shechemites are circumcised, and treacherously killed)
34:13-17 Since the time of Abraham Jews had practiced the circumcision of all males as a sign of their covenant with God (17:9-14, 23-27). Claiming that this would be essential for a marriage arrangement and the proposed tribal union with the Shechemites, Jacob’s sons demanded that all the Shechemite males be circumcised before a marriage could take place.
34:18-19 The rite of circumcision was usually done when a baby boy was eight days old (17:12), but for adult men it was a very painful operation. This must have been the case for Abraham aged 99, Ishmael aged thirteen, and all the slaves in the household (17:24-27). And it was required for any alien who wanted to become a Jew (Exodus 12:48). Shechem was so much in love with Dinah that he persuaded the men in his tribe to join him in this Jewish rite. .
34:20-24 For the men of the city this painful operation would be more than compensated by the vast property of Jacob and his family being added to the wealth of their tribe. So they decided to go through with the rite of circumcision for quite wrong reasons. Circumcision was meant to be a sign of heart commitment to the LORD (Deuteronomy 10:16; Jeremiah 4:4). This was why Paul was able to write “He is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is true circumcision something external and physical. Rather a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart - it is spiritual and not literal” (Romans 2:28-29).
34:25-26 On the third day after the circumcision all the Shechemite men were in great pain and unable to move freely. Simeon and Levi were the second and third sons of Leah (29:31-34), and they took the opportunity to use their swords to kill every male in the city. This was by way of revenge for the rape of their sister, and they took Dinah out of Shechem’s house.
34:27-29 The other sons of Jacob were then able to plunder the city and take all their flocks and herds and other animals, and they seized the women and children for themselves.
34:30-31 Jacob complained to his sons Simeon and Levi that he was now in great danger from the surrounding Canaanite tribes who were infuriated, and vastly outnumbered Jacob and his family. Their answer was that the honor of their sister had been defiled. Rather than gratitude for his sons’ intervention to avenge the rape of his daughter Dinah, Jacob was deeply embarrassed and horrified by their violent and murderous behavior. And this incident was etched on his memory to his dying day (49:5-7). As a result of the massacre of the Shechemites it became imperative for Jacob to move his family away as quickly as possible (35:1).
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