The Defiling of Dinah
34 Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to see the women of the land. And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of the land, saw her, he seized her and lay with her and humiliated her. And his soul was drawn to Dinah the daughter of Jacob. He loved the young woman and spoke tenderly to her. So Shechem spoke to his father Hamor, saying, “Get me this girl for my wife.”
Now Jacob heard that he had defiled his daughter Dinah. But his sons were with his livestock in the field, so Jacob held his peace until they came. And Hamor the father of Shechem went out to Jacob to speak with him. The sons of Jacob had come in from the field as soon as they heard of it, and the men were indignant and very angry, because he had done an outrageous thing in Israel by lying with Jacob’s daughter, for such a thing must not be done.
But Hamor spoke with them, saying, “The soul of my son Shechem longs for your daughter. Please give her to him to be his wife. Make marriages with us. Give your daughters to us, and take our daughters for yourselves. You shall dwell with us, and the land shall be open to you. Dwell and trade in it, and get property in it.” Shechem also said to her father and to her brothers, “Let me find favor in your eyes, and whatever you say to me I will give. Ask me for as great a bride-price and gift as you will, and I will give whatever you say to me. Only give me the young woman to be my wife.”
The sons of Jacob answered Shechem and his father Hamor deceitfully, because he had defiled their sister Dinah. 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. Only on this condition will we agree with you—that you will become as we are by every male among you being circumcised. Then we will give our daughters to you, and we will take your daughters to ourselves, and we will dwell with you and become one people. But if you will not listen to us and be circumcised, then we will take our daughter, and we will be gone.”
Their words pleased Hamor and Hamor’s son Shechem. And the young man did not delay to do the thing, because he delighted in Jacob’s daughter. Now he was the most honored of all his father’s house. So Hamor and his son Shechem came to the gate of their city and spoke to the men of their city, saying, “These men are at peace with us; let them dwell in the land and trade in it, for behold, the land is large enough for them. Let us take their daughters as wives, and let us give them our daughters. Only on this condition will the men agree to dwell with us to become one people—when every male among us is circumcised as they are circumcised. Will not their livestock, their property and all their beasts be ours? Only let us agree with them, and they will dwell with us.” And all who went out of the gate of his city listened to Hamor and his son Shechem, and every male was circumcised, all who went out of the gate of his city.
On the third day, when they were sore, two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, took their swords and came against the city while it felt secure and killed all the males. They killed Hamor and his son Shechem with the sword and took Dinah out of Shechem’s house and went away. The sons of Jacob came upon the slain and plundered the city, because they had defiled their sister. They took their flocks and their herds, their donkeys, and whatever was in the city and in the field. All their wealth, all their little ones and their wives, all that was in the houses, they captured and plundered.
Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “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.” But they said, “Should he treat our sister like a prostitute?”
Genesis 34 Commentary
by Hank Workman
It’s a terrible incident. The rape of Jacob’s daughter Dinah and slaughter of the men of the town by the hands of his 2 sons Levi and Simeon shows how poor leadership can have devastating outcomes.
Jacob had brought his family and settled in a place God didn’t want them to be. God had directed him to go to Bethel and his determination to stay in another area opened things up for evil against his family. As a result, the family itself was open to the ungodly influence that didn’t have to be had he listened and obeyed. Even stranger, after the tragedy of Dinah’s rape, Jacob showed lack of attention and protection. If anything the way the story reads, he was indifferent. His own compromise led his failure to stand and protect and lead his own children. God appointed him head of the family and the void of his lack of leadership led his sons to fill that with sinful retribution. The murder of the men of Shechem and consequence ransacking of the town showed how brutal and lack of conscience they had. Everything rises and falls on leadership.
When confronting his sons, Jacob is only concerned for himself. Here’s the fascinating thing to consider – this is the action of Jacob and not Israel, his new name. Throughout the rest of the story of Jacob, his name switches back and forth from Jacob to Israel depending on the story. There are times he’s acting in his own flesh still and referred to as the deceiver. There are other times he is operating in the strength of his God and lives with his new name, Israel. Although he is a new man, his old ways are not far from him in his decisions and actions.
The battle we all face with our old selves is tough. Even if we have come to know Jesus, have been redeemed and called to destiny, our old ways are not far from our decisions and mindsets. Jacob’s disobedience in the first place of where they settled set this story up for great hardship and compromise. And many times the same is true for us. The reworking of our lives and purpose must always be worked on. We must be mindful of our position even and how it affects those following. The daily pursuing our God is essential. The daily obedience sets the course of not only the here and now but the future.
Genesis 34 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
There are so many issues here and they are glaring. What is clearly evident in this story is that one disaster builds upon another when we refuse to obey God. Jacob’s refusal to go to Bethel sets the foundation and backdrop. This decision is further complicated when he responds casually to the news of his daughter being raped. Furthermore, Jacob’s flesh has been seen by his sons. They were there and heard Jacob lie to Esau. They have witnessed his deceitful, impulsive nature. In fairness, Jacob has also grown closer to God in many ways.
But the sobering reminder here for all of us is that people are watching our every move and taking notes. Especially those who are under our spiritual leadership. Jacob’s nature was learned by his sons and they took matters into their own hands. They used trickery to avenge their sister. In some ways, even though they are the ones to commit horrific murders, they seem less guilty in the entire ordeal as compared to Jacob. They were trying to make things right and do it in their own strength. Had Jacob handled or even directed them appropriately in this situation, they never would have felt the need to take matters into their own hands.
Ironically, in Genesis 49, Jacob rebukes his sons for their impulsive anger… a rebuke that came much too late.
“Like Lot, Jacob bid high for wealth and worldly advancement, risked the highest for the lowest, and was saved as by fire. Poor Dinah! Yet she was more sinned against than sinning. Jacob had put her in jeopardy by his selfish policy; and Leah was not blameless, for she had let her go unwarned and unaccompanied into the middle of that furnace of trial.”F.B. Meyer