Read Genesis 34
Dinah and the Shechemites
1 Now Dinah, the daughter Leah had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the women of the land. 2 When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, the ruler of that area, saw her, he took her and raped her. 3 His heart was drawn to Dinah daughter of Jacob; he loved the young woman and spoke tenderly to her. 4 And Shechem said to his father Hamor, “Get me this girl as my wife.”
5 When Jacob heard that his daughter Dinah had been defiled, his sons were in the fields with his livestock; so he did nothing about it until they came home.
6 Then Shechem’s father Hamor went out to talk with Jacob. 7 Meanwhile, Jacob’s sons had come in from the fields as soon as they heard what had happened. They were shocked and furious, because Shechem had done an outrageous thing in Israel by sleeping with Jacob’s daughter—a thing that should not be done.
8 But Hamor said to them, “My son Shechem has his heart set on your daughter. Please give her to him as his wife. 9 Intermarry with us; give us your daughters and take our daughters for yourselves. 10 You can settle among us; the land is open to you. Live in it, trade in it, and acquire property in it.”
11 Then Shechem said to Dinah’s father and brothers, “Let me find favor in your eyes, and I will give you whatever you ask. 12 Make the price for the bride and the gift I am to bring as great as you like, and I’ll pay whatever you ask me. Only give me the young woman as my wife.”
13 Because their sister Dinah had been defiled, Jacob’s sons replied deceitfully as they spoke to Shechem and his father Hamor. 14 They said to them, “We can’t do such a thing; we can’t give our sister to a man who is not circumcised. That would be a disgrace to us. 15 We will enter into an agreement with you on one condition only: that you become like us by circumcising all your males. 16 Then we will give you our daughters and take your daughters for ourselves. We’ll settle among you and become one people with you. 17 But if you will not agree to be circumcised, we’ll take our sister and go.”
18 Their proposal seemed good to Hamor and his son Shechem. 19 The young man, who was the most honored of all his father’s family, lost no time in doing what they said, because he was delighted with Jacob’s daughter. 20 So Hamor and his son Shechem went to the gate of their city to speak to the men of their city. 21 “These men are friendly toward us,” they said. “Let them live in our land and trade in it; the land has plenty of room for them. We can marry their daughters and they can marry ours. 22 But the men will agree to live with us as one people only on the condition that our males be circumcised, as they themselves are. 23 Won’t their livestock, their property and all their other animals become ours? So let us agree to their terms, and they will settle among us.”
24 All the men who went out of the city gate agreed with Hamor and his son Shechem, and every male in the city was circumcised.
25 Three days later, while all of them were still in pain, two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, took their swords and attacked the unsuspecting city, killing every male. 26 They put Hamor and his son Shechem to the sword and took Dinah from Shechem’s house and left. 27 The sons of Jacob came upon the dead bodies and looted the city where their sister had been defiled. 28 They seized their flocks and herds and donkeys and everything else of theirs in the city and out in the fields.29 They carried off all their wealth and all their women and children, taking as plunder everything in the houses.
30 Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought trouble on me by making me obnoxious to the Canaanites and Perizzites, the people living in this land. We are few in number, and if they join forces against me and attack me, I and my household will be destroyed.”
31 But they replied, “Should he have treated our sister like a prostitute?”
Today’s reading should be hard for you to digest. It’s not a light read. Oftentimes, we look to the Bible to be our “pick me up” and daily inspirational shot in the arm, and many times it does leave us feeling good. But the Bible isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. There are days like today, when everything we read in a chapter makes us sick to our stomach. Rape. A father’s passivity. Violence and murder at the hands of vengeful brothers. There is nothing good, wholesome, or positive in this chapter. It’s all ugly.
Just like sin.
The difficult part in reading about today’s sins is realizing that our sins are just as bad. God doesn’t look at one type of sin as worse than another. We’re the ones who do that–we like to assign levels to sins so that we can feel better about the sins we struggle with. We read chapters in the Bible like this and think, “How could they? They’re awful. I would never.” And then we turn a blind eye to the sins that so easily entangle us, because at least they’re not as bad as theirs.
But that’s not the way God sees it. Sin is sin. And He hates it all. Because any of it, all of it, no matter what type of it, prevents us from being with Him and from living the abundant life He has for us to live. Today’s reading is a sobering reminder of the fact that sin separates us from what God has for us. May we look less at the type of sin we commit versus the ones others commit, and more at our need to repent from all of it. May we see our sin as disgusting as the sins of Shechem, Jacob, and his sons so that we can also see the fullness of the redemption offered us through Jesus. Because He didn’t die on the cross for some of our sin, but for all of it, no matter how ugly.
What part of today’s reading disturbs you most? Why?
In this chapter, Jacob’s passivity is contrasted against the angry actions of his sons. Both sides were sinful. What would have been the biblical way to handle Dinah’s rape? How was she further hurt by the response of her family?
What is a sin you give into that you view as “lesser than” than ones that others struggle with? Confess it to God now and ask Him to see your sin the way He sees it so you can overcome it.
Did You Know?
The name of the Lord is not mentioned in chapter 34. His wisdom is clearly absent from the contents of this chapter. We are again reminded that where the Lord is not present, darkness will fill in the gap.