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Deeper Commentary

Gen 34:1 Dinah, the daughter of Leah, whom she bore to Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land- She went to see the girls, not the boys; but any movement toward the world exposes to further temptation. And that's just what happened here. The Jacob family by reason of their life path would've been quite insular; being on the move all the time, they had no opportunity to build up friendships or relationships with others outside the group. And so we can understand the desire for a young person to go out to meet the locals. But females in those days never travelled alone, always there was a male relative present. But it seems Dinah almost escaped alone. We can assume she was a naive teenager.

It is the fashion these days to present Dinah as totally innocent. But Gen. 27:46 ff. has spoken negatively of "the daughters of the Canaanites" and "the women of the land"; they were seen as not suitable for God's people to marry into. In my judgment, Dinah was very young and acted in a teenage way; but her choice and action was unwise and not ideal. And yet the lesson is that we see how huge chains of events ensue from unwisdom and misjudgment, even if it is not sin per se. Which is how I read Dinah's sneaking off to hang out with the local girls. Mass genocide, women and children taken off by Jacob's sons, mass looting, the abuse of the covenant symbol of circumcision etc.

And Jacob surely is at fault because he allows his daughter to slip out of the encampment to the nearby city, without any chaperone. Perhaps because she was the daughter of Leah, the unloved wife, he paid little attention to her. Dinah "went out", using the same term used of how Leah "went out" to meet Jacob in the field. She was her mother's daughter- likewise treated as an incidental, unloved and uncared for. Jacob's 'silence' when he receives the news must be compared to his passionate outcry regarding the loss of his son Joseph. He presents as having no great passion for Leah's daughter. Everyone in the story of Genesis 34 is at fault in some way. There are no heroes here. We have at very least a reminder that God's Israel came, and comes, from very weak spiritual beginnings.

Gen 34:2 Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of the land, saw her. He took her, lay with her, and humbled her- "Humbled" is the same word translated "afflict"; and yet if he brutally raped her, his genuine love for her in :3 and :12 is hard to understand. So the idea may be that she was humbled by the experience. See on :3. The use of the word "humbled" rather than 'raped' suggests this was not rape. This was the result in the long term, yes. But there is no Hebrew word for "rape" so we are required to interpret this. We note that the word order is the other way around when Amnon shamed and then lay with Tamar. Here, the couple lie together, and then shame arises from that act. The word "forced" is not used here as it is in other rape scenes [e.g. "Forces and lies with her", Dt. 22:25]. Dinah's brothers of course wanted to take it as rape, but that doesn't mean it was; although they then went and carried off for themselves all the women of Shechem, effectively doing far worse than the supposed crime they were protesting. It was their shame rather than their sense of righteousness which motivated them. Jacob later curses their "anger" and "selfwill". They used the moral failure of others to unleash their native anger in a totally immoral way. Just as many religious people today seem to allow the weakness of others to trigger an unleashing of their native anger. Shechem firstly "took her", and that may simply mean he took her into his home; the very same word is used in :9,16 of taking a woman in marriage. If forced kidnap were in view, a different word would have been used. This was not therefore street rape. Indeed to take someone into your home meant hospitality and acceptance. And yet contra the idea of teenage romance gone too far is the way that 'saw and took' is the language of sin throughout the Bible, beginning with Eve seeing and taking the fruit, the sons of God seeing and taking the daughters of men, and Achan seeing and taking the spoil of Jericho. Time and again in this chapter we will see the same- we are invited to consider the degree and nature of the sin or failure, but there is no doubt that there was moral failure in all the characters involved. But the way we are left to ponder the degree and nature of sin is intentional- for we look back on our own lives and ponder the same issues.

My suggestion is that this entire chapter is intentionally left open to interpretation. To what degree did Shechem's lust overcome his love? Dinah is presented as silent- we aren't told her feelings. We are left to imagine. Is her silence that of the raped woman? Or the silence of the lover who has lost her beloved at the hand of her own brothers? Shechem "took her, lay with her" can be simply read as saying that they had sex. Feminist 'translators' like to read this as "he seized her and lay with her by force". But the Hebrew words required for such a translation would have been different. And there is actually no word in Biblical Hebrew for "rape". Perhaps indeed he did rape her, although that rape is presented by the text as part of "love". My point is, we aren't told. As often in Biblical narrative, we are left to reconstruct so that we might enter more deeply into the situation. And that process may restimulate self examination, as we ponder the path of our own lives. Did we do this or that for God from pure motives? Were we in love or in lust when we married? Those questions are provoked by these narratives which invite us to reconstruct what might have been the feelings and situations. Or perhaps the silence concerning Dinah is to lead us to appreciate that she was the victim of Shechem's lust, Hamor's political machinations, her father's shame, her brothers' anger issues etc. And this is to provoke our sympathy for her and many similar women at the time. The very fact we hear no more of Dinah leads us naturally to enquire 'What happened to her? How did she feel?'. There are other gaps in the narrative which beg questions from us, which in turn lead us deeper into imagining the feelings and situations- which we ourselves have been in, in essence.

Gen 34:3 His soul joined to Dinah, the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the young lady, and spoke kindly to the young lady- The language of 'joining' or [AV] 'cleaving' is that of Gen. 2:24 about cleaving in marriage. His kind words and genuine love for her all suggest his desire to marry her was sincere. What was wrong was that he prematurely slept with her. But the whole incident had a far grosser spin placed upon it by Jacob's sons. Shechem spoke kindly to her, Heb. 'to her heart', with comfort- presumably the comfort that he had not just used her, but would marry her and promised her a wonderful life. This is quite opposite to how her brothers interpreted the situation, falsely claiming Shechem had used her as a prostitute (:31). Shechem's behaviour was wrong, but Dinah's brothers imputed wickedness to him rather than righteousness. We note from the Biblical example of Amnon, as well as observation, that rapists typically hate their victims after the sex act- even murder them. But Shechem loves her and is desperate to marry her. And yet, he "saw... and took". He did wrong. But it was not rape. And there are degrees of sin, just as there are degress of righteousness. And there is wisdom and unwisdom, at times beyond the parameters of "sin" and morality generally.

Gen 34:4 Shechem spoke to his father, Hamor, saying, Get me this young lady as a wife- She was indeed young. If  Joseph was only 17 when he was sold into Egypt about 11 years later, Dinah would have been around 16 at this time (cp. Gen. 30:21).

Gen 34:5 Now Jacob heard that he had defiled Dinah, his daughter. And his sons were with his livestock in the field. Jacob held his peace until they came- Perhaps she had gone with other young folks, who returned to the encampment with the news. "Defiled" is a strictly ceremonial or moral word. The idea is not of rape; see on :2. The response and evil plan of the sons appears to have been done without Jacob's knowledge. He appears very passive; if he had acted more decisively at the time, perhaps events might have turned out differently. The entire story is full of weakness and failure on the part of absolutely all involved; and yet the end result of it was the casting away of idols from Jacob's family, as they threw themselves upon God's grace to preserve them.

We wonder what Jacob was thinking and planning as he "held his peace"; which is typical of how this record begs so many questions, to help us reconstruct the situation and to elicit our own self examination. What we do know is that Jacob later boasts about the conquest of Shechem:  "Shechem... which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow" (Gen. 48:22). Shechem was a fertile area: " It is to you and not to your brothers that I am giving Shechem, that fertile region which I took from the Amorites with my sword and my bow" (GNB). Jacob later condemns Simeon and Levi for their anger; but he also boasts that he took Shechem by violence. Even though later scripture comments that the land was not possessed by their own sword and bow but by God's grace (Ps. 44:3). So we can infer that Jacob's silence was spent scheming how he could manipulate the situation to his own benefit. His complaint is that Simeon and Levi went too far; but clearly Jacob also had his own agenda. Some manuscripts, followed by the AV, offer in :17: "But if ye will not hearken unto us, to be circumcised; then will we take our daughter, and we will be gone". "Our daughter" rather than "our sister" would suggest that the brothers were speaking on behalf of Jacob at this point; he was clearly involved. He was the deceiver [of his father and brother] who had been deceived [by Laban]. But still Jacob had not learnt his lesson. He answers Shechem "deceitfully". But even so, Yahweh still miraculously protected Jacob from the consequences, and we marvel at that grace. He had far slipped from the attitude of Gen. 33, that having experienced God's grace was all he needed, and he didn't need any material blessings, and had given up trying to get it by his own strength.

Jacob gave Shechem to Joseph, but in fact Shechem was later given to Levi as one of the priestly cities- as if in the bigger picture, God did somehow work through what Levi did although it was so wrong. Jacob's intention was undone by God's later choice: " It is to you and not to your brothers that I am giving Shechem, that fertile region which I took from the Amorites with my sword and my bow" (Gen. 48:22 GNB). And to ultimately give Shechem to the pillager and genocidal Levi, whilst accepting Levi's sin... is nothing but grace. This later connection between Shechem and the Levites is one of those things where we clearly sense 'something's going on', but to attach meaning to event is difficult.

Gen 34:6 Hamor the father of Shechem went out to Jacob to talk with him- We have the impression of Jacob living at the city limits, and the city clearly defined with a gate and houses within the walls. Hence Shechem 'goes out' to Jacob. There may be an intended similarity with how Lot pitched his tent just outside Sodom, and then moved in to the city (Gen. 13:12). Shechem was also an area of rich pastureland which would've been attractive to Jacob.

Gen 34:7 The sons of Jacob came in from the field when they heard it. The men were grieved, and they were very angry, because he had done folly in Israel in lying with Jacob’s daughter; a thing which ought not to be done- There is reason to think that even at the end, Jacob was still in some ways weak. Thus despite his name having been changed from Jacob to Israel, the two terms are used by God in the record in juxtaposition  (here and Gen. 35:22; 46:2, 5,8; 48:2) as if to reflect the way the full change of Jacob would only take place in the Kingdom, when each believer will receive his new name (Rev. 3:12).

The sons of Jacob are presented here as hypocritical; they despised the sign of the covenant, circumcision, and were ruthless and self-willed, murdering and pillaging. So their outrage was hardly because of their own morality. And as noted on :2 and :3, it was they who had decided that Shechem had raped their sister and treated her as a prostitute (:31). "Folly" is an extreme term, used of prostitutes and rapists (Dt. 22:21; Jud. 19:23,24). In reality he had not raped her, and she was at least partially responsible. But the problem with the usage of inflammatory language is that it creates images which do not easily subside. This incident stands for all time as a warning to us all; a mistake is made, a sin is committed, as these youngsters Shechem and Dinah did; but others get involved, and for the sake of family pride, they exaggerate what happened into something quite different, and once that image is in their mind, they will kill and pillage for it. This sort of thing goes on in secular and religious life all the time.  

Gen 34:8 Hamor talked with them, saying, The soul of my son, Shechem, longs for your daughter. Please give her to him as a wife- Hamor avoids mentioning that Shechem has slept with her already. This was clearly intended to be a love marriage, it was not casual rape nor usage of a girl as a prostitute (:31). The sincerity of Shechem is consistently contrasted with the exaggeration and serious over reaction of Jacob's sons.

Gen 34:9 Make marriages with us, give your daughters to us, and take our daughters for yourselves- Jacob had other daughters apart from Dinah, mentioned also in Gen. 46:7. The sons of Jacob would have known the family stories of how Isaac and Jacob had both gone to such trouble not to marry local Canaanite women, and how these had been a grief of mind to Isaac an Rebekah when Esau married them. They ought to have immediately turned away from such a proposal, and simply ensured Dinah's safety and return to their camp.

Gen 34:10 You shall dwell with us, and the land will be before you. Live and trade in it, and get possessions in it- The land [eretz] had been promised to the sons of Jacob as an eternal inheritance; the men of Shechem suggested that an agreement with them would make the eretz before them. They speak not for the town of Shechem, but the entire eretz, as if an agreement with them would mean the rest of the Canaanite tribes would be acceptant of them. This reasoning was quite contrary to the Divine promise that by His grace He would give them the eretz; it was because of this that "the land [is] before you" (Dt. 1:21- the identical Hebrew is used). The whole behaviour of Jacob's sons reflects a lack of spiritual perception and appreciation of the promises. "Possessions" is literally 'things taken hold of' and is the same word used of how Jacob took hold of Esau's heel (Gen. 25:26). He ought to have learnt that he had given up grabbing hold, and would instead take hold of God's grace.

What was offered here by Hamor was hugely attractive, on a secular level. For there is no lack of secular evidence that "foreigners" had few rights; they couldn't buy land, not even to bury their dead. They had to keep moving, and their economic activities were limited. The fear of the locals was that the foreigners would take over their land. They themselves were against intermarriage. So the offer from Hamor could have put an end to the Abraham family being always on the move. Were it not for the bad temper and arrogant, hurt pride over reaction of Simeon and Levi- they may well have given in to the offer. And so God's Israel would have become disolved and assimilated into the surrounding world. And if their genocide of Shechem had not happened, then Israel would have been likely to have assimilated into the Canaanite tribes- for as Dinah demonstrates, they clearly found them attractive. But after the genocide, there was a mutual fear and distance between Israel and all others. Again we see how God worked through the failure of His own children in order to preserve His people. God in this sense is never defeated by sin.

Gen 34:11 Shechem said to her father and to her brothers, Let me find favour in your eyes, and whatever you will tell me I will give- This is the language of someone desperately in love. Again we note the emphasis upon Shechem's integrity and that he most definitely did not treat her as a prostitute (:31). Their accusation was therefore their imagination, and their reaction was wrong.

We too can so easily impute sin to people on the basis they did something wrong, but we can exaggerate that. The brothers accuse the people of Shechem as treating their sister as a prostitute, when the sex act was only between Hamor's son and Dinah.

Gen 34:12 Ask me a great amount for a dowry, and I will give whatever you ask of me, but give me the young lady as a wife- AV "dowry and gift"; the dowry being to the parents, and the gift to the bride. He was obsessed with Dinah, the language is similar to Samson's about his first Philistine wife; but despite that, he was eager to do things in accordance with norms of societal behaviour, and his relationship with her was clearly not of a casual nature.

Jacob is offered huge gifts for Dinah. He earlier gave Esau huge gifts because he realised that having God's grace was everything and he didn't need gifts. But now he wants more than presents / gifts from Shechem. He wanted everything in Shechem. How far he had fallen from his humbled appreciation of grace which he had in Gen. 33. We too can have a momentary appreciation of grace and total trust in God's provision... but fall away from it. Likewise he later sends gifts to Pharaoh thinking this may appease him... instead if trusting in God's grace. 

Gen 34:13 The sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father with deceit, and spoke, because he had defiled Dinah their sister- "Defiled" has a religious, moral connotation. They were justifying their anger and bloodlust by claiming they had to settle some gross religious blasphemy. But Shechem is portrayed as most definitely not having used Dinah, but rather wishing by all means to marry her in a responsible way. And so often we see this; quasi religious / spiritual reasoning is used to justify arrogance, pride and a desire to justify the outpouring of native anger. And so they acted true to the character of their father Jacob and grandfather Laban; they were deceitful. "Defiled" was their perception. I suggested above that Shechem didn't rape Dinah. It was a case of teenagers going too far in first love. But we see here historically what we have surely all observed. That a hunch about a less than ideal momentary action is nursed into a conspiracy theory, which is repeated within the minds of a family, and then repeated between them, until it becomes truth and perceived reality. Just as later the brothers repeated the lie that Joseph had been killed, until even before Joseph in Egypt they really believed it. Here we see the importance of "speaking the truth in our hearts". Anything else will push and distort the envelope until it is perceived as truth, and judgment for the supposed sin becomes felt to be necessary. The woman spotted smoking a cigarette around the corner from the church hall... becomes a drug addict, an alcoholic, and finally a whore. In the eyes and perceptions of a group of hypocritical people with anger problems, all too eager to launch off into judgmentalism, to unleash their anger on what they perceive to be a legitimate cause.

Gen 34:14 And said to them, We can’t do this thing, to give our sister to one who is uncircumcised; for that is a reproach to us- Again, as noted on :13, they used quasi spiritual reasoning to justify their own wrong behaviour. They made out that uncircumcision was a shameful thing for them, pretending they were men of such high spiritual principle when they were nothing of the sort. The brothers present as having a simmering anger problem, that was allowed to come to the surface because of quasi religious concerns about holiness. The fact two teenagers slept with each other is of course not great, but is twisted by them into rape; and they justify their anger by saying that they cannot abide the thought of their sister marrying the uncircumcised. We see the same today; religious people just about managing to contain their simmering anger problem, but allowing it to come to full term on the excuse that God's principles have been breached by others.

Gen 34:15 Only on this condition will we consent to you. If you will be as we are, that every male of you be circumcised- Circumcision was the sign of the covenant; to even be willing to offer it to others shows a deep lack of appreciation of covenant relationship. All the way through, they are presented as being most unspiritual. "Every male of you..." is to be circumcised, so that they might live "among" the sons of Israel, is an allusion to Gen. 17:10: “All males among you [are to] be circumcised". But clearly the brothers had an agenda- to make all the males weak, and then massacre them. This twisting of scripture and abuse of the covenant is surely reprehensible and unconscionable.

Gen 34:16 Then will we give our daughters to you, and we will take your daughters to us, and we will dwell with you, and we will become one people- As noted on :15, to even talk about being "one people" with those who were not the people of God is reflective of their lack of spirituality and appreciation of their relationship with God.

Gen 34:17 But if you will not listen to us, to be circumcised, then we will take our sister, and we will be gone- Jacob had only just purchased land at the city limits. So "we will be gone" was not going to be so easily executed. "We will take our sister" could suggest a threat of force. They do not ask for her to be delivered, but rather say they will take her.

Gen 34:18 Their words pleased Hamor and Shechem, Hamor’s son- Not least, because it was an honourable way out of the situation caused by Shechem and Dinah's inappropriate and premature behaviour.

Gen 34:19 The young man didn’t wait to do this thing- The Hebrew idea of waiting or delaying is nearly always used in a bad sense; not delaying is associated with right behaviour. Again, Shechem is portrayed as honourable. Perhaps the idea is that he was circumcised first, immediately.

Because he had delight in Jacob’s daughter, and he was honoured above all the house of his father- This could also mean, as AV, that he was the most honourable. The others wanted to deceive the Israelites for material advantage, but Shechem is presented as being of integrity and sincerity despite his initial sin of passion in sleeping with Dinah.

Gen 34:20 Hamor and Shechem, his son, came to the gate of their city, and talked with the men of their city, saying- The emphasis seems to be upon them doing everything in a correct, transparent and appropriate manner- in direct contrast to the devious behaviour of Jacob's sons.

Gen 34:21 These men are peaceful with us. Therefore let them live in the land and trade in it. For behold, the land is large enough for them. Let us take their daughters to us for wives, and let us give them our daughters- The implication is that Jacob had bought some land on the city limits, but this was recent; they had not yet begun to trade with the locals and were without relevant permissions to do so. Moses alludes to their words by saying that the entire eretz was a "large" land, and because of the largeness of the inheritance, they would possess the land of the Hivites (Ex. 3:8). The primary audience of Genesis were intended to make this connection; the Hivites were reasoning as if it were all their land when in fact it was the eternal inheritance of the wayward but chosen-by-grace sons of Jacob.

Gen 34:22 Only on this condition will the men consent to us to live with us, to become one people, if every male among us is circumcised, as they are circumcised- Marriage out of the Faith is associated with a chronic lack of appreciation of covenant relationship. If Dinah had married Hamor, this would have been a covenant relationship which would have resulted in the people of God and the surrounding world becoming “one people” (:16,22). How can we marry out of the Faith and claim we are still God’s people, separated from the world and not "of it"? Living together ["live with us"] was going to result in the process of time with 'becoming one people', and this is so often how it goes when a believer marries an unbeliever.

Gen 34:23 Won’t their livestock and their possessions and all their animals be ours? Only let us give our consent to them, and they will dwell with us- Here we see a less honourable side of Hamor and Shechem; the Jacob family were perceived as wealthy, perhaps more wealthy than the whole of Shechem. However, Shechem is definitely presented as honourable, and as a young man we can assume that the idea of getting Jacob's wealth was perhaps more pushed by his father. Or perhaps they felt they had to offer some attractive side to the bargain, so that their people would agree; when Shechem himself simply wanted to marry the girl he had fallen in love with.

Gen 34:24 All who went out of the gate of his city listened to Hamor, and to Shechem his son; and every male was circumcised, all who went out of the gate of his city- The reference is not to those who sat in the gate, which would have referred to the leadership. Those who went out of the gate might therefore simply refer to "every male" who was old enough to travel independently, i.e. to leave the city.

Gen 34:25 It happened on the third day, when they were sore, that two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, each took his sword, came upon the unsuspecting city, and killed all the males- This was a classic case of guilt by association. "All the males" were hardly guilty of what one had done. The awfulness of the crime was not simply that they over-reacted in hot blood, but that they planned this massacre over a period of days. Although Simeon and Levi did the killing, it is clear that the other brothers knew the plan; and surely Jacob did, and his silence is significant. The whole incident portrays all involved as weak; and yet out of it arises the mass repentance from idolatry of Gen. 35.

The mention of the third day connects with how the Hivites later deceived the Israelites; and that became apparent after three days (Josh. 9:16). And those Hivites showed themselves more faithful to God than the Israelites. We note the play on the word "take". Shechem "took" Dinah, but her brothers "take" their swords and then "take" Dinah (:26) and "take" the spoil of Shechem (:28). Their 'taking' is presented as disproportionate to Shechem's 'taking' of Dinah.

Gen 34:26 They killed Hamor and Shechem, his son, with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah out of Shechem’s house, and went away- The poor girl must have been so terribly traumatized and confused to see all this happening at the hands of her brothers.

Gen 34:27 Jacob’s sons came on the dead, and plundered the city, because they had defiled their sister- The term "Jacob's sons" usually refers to the group; they were clearly complicent in the crime, although the actual murders were committed by Dinah's two brothers. The plundering was perhaps their way of showing that they had seen through the real motivation of these people- it was to take the wealth of the Jacob family (:23). But as with the language of demons in the New Testament, the final clause is written from their perspective- they did this because "they" had defiled their sister. Only Shechem could be accused of defiling Dinah, so they are in the grip of guilt by association thinking; and the language of 'defilement' for pre-marital consensual sex seems rather a quasi-spiritual motivation for doing what was plainly wrong. 

Gen 34:28 They took their flocks, their herds, their donkeys, that which was in the city, that which was in the field- This was showing that they had seen through the real motivation of these people- it was to take the animals wealth of the Jacob family (:23). It must have been a major operation, consciously planned and executed; for they took the animals which they had which were "in the field". But Jacob later curses his sons for how they hamstrung the cattle- presumably, those they couldn't carry away with them. And he saw this as a reflection of their deep anger problem. We note that straight afterwards, whilst the Jacobites are still at Shechem, Jacob commands the family to throw away all their idols. We can assume they took some of those idols from Shechem.

Gen 34:29 And all their wealth. They took captive all their little ones and their wives, and took as plunder everything that was in the house- Taking the wives / women rather than killing them suggests that they then married them or slept with them; for this was the idea of taking women as "plunder". They did this on the excuse that one of the men had raped their sister, when in fact the young couple wanted to get married and the sex was consensual. Their evil is presented as being far greater than that done by Shechem, and their sin was of the same order and nature of rape, which they falsely accused Shechem of. Yet they did it on a mass scale. They are presented as very selfish and hypocritical.

Just as Shechem compares favourably with the Israelite Amnon, so the behaviour of Jacob's sons here is utterly reprehensible compared to the sin of Shechem. They massacred the men and took their women captive- the implication being, they raped / had sex with them. That was how conquest was done- kill the males and rape the women. But the genealogies of Jacob's sons never reveal they had any children by all these very many women of Shechem whom they took. The implication therefore is that they raped and then abandonned them. All in reaction to how Shechem had slept with their sister and sought to honourably marry her. It is part of a wider theme of God's people behaving far worse than the secular people around them. The point being, that God's people are His people by grace and not because they are better than others.

Gen 34:30 Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, You have troubled me, to make me odious to the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites. I being few in number, they shall gather themselves together against me and slay me, and I shall be destroyed, I and my house- So true to our experience, even after the night of wrestling Jacob slipped back at times into the old way of thinking. His pathetic bleating here is a case of this: "I being few in number, they shall gather themselves together against me and slay me; and I shall be destroyed, I and my house". Just note all those personal pronouns. God had promised to go with him and make him a multitude, not "few in number", and the whole tenor of all the promises was that there would come a singular seed from the line of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who would become a great house, or nation. But in the heat of the moment, all this was forgotten. He had only recently feared that he would be 'slain' by Esau and his family destroyed (Gen. 32:11 s.w., "he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children"), and been brought to see that this fear was a lack of faith in the fulfilment of the promises to him. We too can learn something in one crisis, but then need to be re-taught it, or reveal our lack of having learnt, when the essence of the crisis is repeated again in a later similar incident.

The primary audience of Genesis was Israel in the wilderness, and as they approached Canaan, they must likewise have felt that they were going to be overcome by the local tribes. Yet such fears of not inheriting the Kingdom are presented as being but the same element of faithless fear which was in Jacob at this time. They feared they would be "destroyed" (s.w.) by the local tribes (Dt. 1:27). But somehow God would miraculously preserve them, as He did "Israel" at his first formation as a nation.

This section began with Jacob returning in peace (Gen. 33:18), just as he had wagered with God- 'If You return me in peace, then Yahweh shall be my God'. But that peace is shattered by the sins of his own sons. However in the next chapter, Jacob goes out of his way to indeed make Yahweh his God, by insisting that all idols be cast away. So Jacob was driven by circumstance and failure to realize that the only "peace" worth having was peace with God. He was being reminded of what he learnt on the night of wrestling- that having peace with God is "all things" even if you don't have peace with man.

In the bigger picture, we wonder 'why these things happen'. I have suggested above that one dimension was in order to stop the Jacobites intermarrying and socializing with the Canaanites. But we also note that Jacob had bought [probably leased] some land near Shechem and therefore intended to settle down there (Gen. 33:19). But after this incident, Jacob obviously wanted to move on- and God confirmed this by telling him in Gen. 35 to go to Bethel, to fulfil his covenant with God to make Yahweh his God if he returned to Bethel. We too look back on our lives, and perceive that we were moved on, even when we wanted to stay. The record shows weakness all around- but God works through that weakness.

Gen 34:31 They said, Should he deal with our sister as with a prostitute?- Humanly, the sons of Jacob, unrepentant as they were, should have taken the consequence of their evil at the hand of the vengeful surrounding tribes. But God, in His grace, preserves them by a miracle (Gen. 35:5). By contrast, the unbelieving Shechemites acted more honourably. The Prince of Shechem didn't rape her, and he didn't just discard her. He could easily have just taken her as his wife with no more discussion with her family. He did the honourable thing in that he honestly wanted to marry her, and would do absolutely anything to enable this (Gen. 34). The brothers acted in greed and hurt pride, but justified it by exaggerating what had happened in their own mind; and they repeated the lie to themselves until they believed it were true.

As noted on :3, Shechem did not use Dinah as a prostitute, and their comment is tantamount to accusing their sister of being a prostitute. But they were so desperate to justify their sick actions that they cared nothing for the logic of their false accusations. We see that in people today, and their comment has the ring of psychological credibility in the situation. Indeed it was generally understood that a prostitute was a woman whose family disowned her and took no responsibility for her. A prostitute's honour has no need to defence. A prostitute is willing to engage in her deeds in return for some benefit; and so the language of prostitution is clearly inappropriate to Dinah. And the story ends with this, inviting us to view the brothers as totally misresponding to the situation. The story of course begs the question, 'Was Dinah raped?'. My take is that she was not raped by Shechem- but she was terribly used and abused by her own father and brothers in order to advance their very wrong material agenda, not to mention their hypocritical, religious pride.