As I was recently reading in Genesis, we are told of a man named Shechem, the prince of the land where Jacob’s household resides, how he sees Jacob’s daughter Dinah when she is out and about. It says he “seized her and lay with her and humiliated her,” then decided he wanted her for his wife.
Let’s talk, then, about the story of Dinah, Jacob’s daughter, and what her brothers do to take vengeance, or do justice, depending on your perspective.
After the impulsive actions of Shechem, negotiations were struck up between Shechem’s father, Hamor the Hivite, and Jacob, Dinah’s father, to arrange a marriage. We read that Jacob held his peace until his sons returned from tending livestock in the field, but when Jacob’s sons returned and heard that Shechem had defiled their sister, and now wanted to marry her, they “were indignant and very angry.”
For his part, Hamor was insistent, since his son had said to him, “Get me this girl for my wife.” And so Hamor pleaded on his son’s behalf, and on behalf of his people, that Jacob’s people would intermarry with Hamor’s people, and that Dinah would be given to Shechem in marriage.
At the risk of sounding like every click-bait headline in the internet age, what happened next will shock you, if you don’t already know it.
Genesis recounts that Jacob’s sons answered Shechem and Hamor deceitfully, insisting that Shechem and Hamor, and every male among them, must be circumcised, otherwise Dinah could not be given to Shechem as a wife.
Thereafter, the terms were met, and the men of that city were all circumcised. But on the third day after their circumcision, two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, took their swords and attacked the city, killing every male in it.
When Jacob heard about it, he was greatly distressed, and here was a part of his response to his sons:
“You have brought trouble on me by making me stink to the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites and the Perizzites. My numbers are few, and if they gather themselves against me and attack me, I shall be destroyed, both I and my household.” (Genesis 34:30)
Here, of course, Jacob makes no mention of whether it was right or wrong what his sons had done, only a concern for the practical and political implications. Then comes the response from Simeon and Levi:
“Should he treat our sister like a prostitute?”
Here again, as with many such stories in the Bible, what happened is presented, without immediate moral judgment, either to condemn or to condone. Then the narrative continues, after this brief character sketch, and we move on, as Jacob and his household break camp and move to Bethel at God’s command.
Before they move, however, Jacob orders his household to get rid of all their foreign gods, and change their clothes, before building an altar to Yahweh God. And thereafter, Jacob collects all their idols, as well as the rings in their ears, and buries them under an oak tree at Shechem.
Thereafter, it says “they set out, and the terror of God fell on the towns all around them so that no one pursued them.”
If you ask me, this is all very fascinating, set in the context of God having made a covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, demonstrating that not all was sunshine and roses, even regarding the moral character of Jacob’s household – that they would deal deceitfully, or have idols to other gods.
Yet what does it mean that God caused fear to prevent anyone from pursuing them?
At the very least, it means Jacob’s household would indeed have been vulnerable to reprisals, and counter-attack, and being killed themselves, as towns friendly to Shechem and Hamor heard what had been done by Jacob’s sons, and avenged the killing of the men of that town where Dinah was defiled, lest any similar thing should happen to them.
Yet, again, it can be a surprising thing for American Christians today to find such accounts in the Biblical narrative. Suffice to say, the defiling of Dinah will never be adapted for Veggie Tales, and the portrayal of it would never make the VidAngel cut.
This is arguably for the worst, as it leaves us rather truncated in our understanding of the character of God, as well as the nature of sinful man, particularly in situations where war might break out any time between the world’s major powers, over matters not so dissimilar from what provoked the sons of Jacob to go against Shechem and Hamor and the men of that town.
In other words, if we do not understand the importance of rulers and peoples saving or losing face, like in the story of the defiling of Dinah by Shechem, we will not understand what appears to be ramping up in our day. Whether we’re talking about an impending hot war between China and the U.S., or what is currently underway for a year now between Ukraine and Russia, but which could easily spill over into a larger global conflict, face is critically important, both domestically and internationally.
More importantly than that, however, if we do not study and meditate on accounts like the one I just told to you from Genesis, we will not comprehend how God has acted in times past, to fulfill His covenant promises, nor will we be expectant for how He may act in the present and future for the same or similar reasons, in situations which disturb and upset us.
For instance, I do not think it is a trivial thing that Jacob orders everyone in his household to change their clothes, and put away their foreign gods, and surrender their earrings, or that he then buries all of the above under an oak tree at Shechem. That is, it would seem that Jacob recognizes their vulnerability, and that they are now wholly dependent on God to save them from destruction, humanly speaking. And thus Jacob leads his household in a kind of ritual purification, or spiritual detox, in hopes that they will not provoke God to wrath against them in like-manner to how Shechem provoked Jacob’s sons to wrath by defiling Dinah.
That is to say, whether or not it was right that Shechem and Hamor were dispatched, along with all the males of their town, in the way Jacob’s sons dispatched them all, Jacob does not want his household to be similarly destroyed. Thus he commands their souls to God, and they are saved, because God is faithful to His promises even when we have been unfaithful.
Again, we would do well to meditate on this for its implications in our lives, both individual and corporate.
This Episode’s Links:
- Watch: This MIT professor, a 30-year expert on drug safety analytics, is calling for “all Covid mRNA vaccination programs” to “stop immediately”– Daniel Payne, Not the Bee
- Blinken Says Chinese Balloon In ‘Clear Violation’ Of U.S. Sovereignty – Daniel Chaitin, The Daily Wire
- U.S. Military Confirms Second Chinese Spy Balloon Is Operational In Sky – Ryann Saavedra, The Daily Wire
- Democrat Senator Announces Hearing To Demand Answers On Chinese Spy Balloon – John Rigolizzo, The Daily Wire
- Secret CCP Overseas Police Station in NYC Closed After Reported FBI Raid – Andrew Thornebrooke, The Epoch Times
- Nebraska Democrat wants to ban kids from Vacation Bible School and church youth groups to prove some point about drag shows – Harris Rigby, Not the Bee
- Ohio Man Who Identifies as Female Faces Charges for Being Naked in Locker Room While Young Girls Were Present – Mimi Nguyen Ly, The Epoch Times
- Trump Vows to Revoke Biden’s ‘Cruel Policies’ on ‘Gender Affirming Care’ for Children; Crackdown on Hospitals, Big Pharma for Mutilating Children With Transgender Surgery, Medications (Video) – Kristinn Taylor, Gateway Pundit
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