October 3, 2015

Commentary on the Book of Genesis

By: Tom Lowe

 

PART III: HISTORY OF ISAAC AND JACOB (Gen. 25:19-36:43)

 

Topic #E:  JACOB'S RESIDENCE AT SHECHEM, BETH-EL AND HEBRON. (Gen. 33:18-36:43.)                

 

 

Lesson III.E.2: His Daughter Is Defiled by Shechem. (Genesis 34:1-31).

 

 

 

Genesis 34:1-31 (KJV)

 

1 And Dinah the daughter of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land.

2 And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her.

3 And his soul clave unto Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the damsel, and spake kindly unto the damsel.

4 And Shechem spake unto his father Hamor, saying, Get me this damsel to wife.

5 And Jacob heard that he had defiled Dinah his daughter: now his sons were with his cattle in the field: and Jacob held his peace until they were come.

6 And Hamor the father of Shechem went out unto Jacob to commune with him.

7 And the sons of Jacob came out of the field when they heard it: and the men were grieved, and they were very wroth, because he had wrought folly in Israel in lying with Jacob's daughter: which thing ought not to be done.

8 And Hamor communed with them, saying, The soul of my son Shechem longeth for your daughter: I pray you give her him to wife.

9 And make ye marriages with us, and give your daughters unto us, and take our daughters unto you.

10 And ye shall dwell with us: and the land shall be before you; dwell and trade ye therein, and get you possessions therein.

11 And Shechem said unto her father and unto her brethren, Let me find grace in your eyes, and what ye shall say unto me I will give.

12 Ask me never so much dowry and gift, and I will give according as ye shall say unto me: but give me the damsel to wife.

13 And the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father deceitfully, and said, because he had defiled Dinah their sister:

14 And they said unto them, We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one that is uncircumcised; for that were a reproach unto us:

15 But in this will we consent unto you: If ye will be as we be, that every male of you be circumcised;

16 Then will we give our daughters unto you, and we will take your daughters to us, and we will dwell with you, and we will become one people.

17 But if ye will not hearken unto us, to be circumcised; then will we take our daughter, and we will be gone.

18 And their words pleased Hamor, and Shechem Hamor's son.

19 And the young man deferred not to do the thing, because he had delight in Jacob's daughter: and he was more honourable than all the house of his father.

20 And Hamor and Shechem his son came unto the gate of their city, and communed with the men of their city, saying,

21 These men are peaceable with us; therefore let them dwell in the land, and trade therein; for the land, behold, it is large enough for them; let us take their daughters to us for wives, and let us give them our daughters.

22 Only herein will the men consent unto us for to dwell with us, to be one people, if every male among us be circumcised, as they are circumcised.

23 Shall not their cattle and their substance and every beast of their's be our's? only let us consent unto them, and they will dwell with us.

24 And unto Hamor and unto Shechem his son hearkened all that went out of the gate of his city; and every male was circumcised, all that went out of the gate of his city.

25 And it came to pass on the third day, when they were sore, that two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah's brethren, took each man his sword, and came upon the city boldly, and slew all the males.

26 And they slew Hamor and Shechem his son with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah out of Shechem's house, and went out.

27 The sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and spoiled the city, because they had defiled their sister.

28 They took their sheep, and their oxen, and their asses, and that which was in the city, and that which was in the field,

29 And all their wealth, and all their little ones, and their wives took they captive, and spoiled even all that was in the house.

30 And Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, Ye have troubled me to make me to stink among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites: and I being few in number, they shall gather themselves together against me, and slay me; and I shall be destroyed, I and my house.

31 And they said, Should he deal with our sister as with an harlot?

 

 

 

Introduction

 

The noticeable lack of discipline in Jacob’s family now began to come to a head.  God is not mentioned even once in the events that follow—the wisdom of the Lord is surely absent as well—and we cannot help but believe that the incident recorded here would never have happened if Jacob had remained a pilgrim and a stranger rather than trying to become like the world.  Whether the story of Esau’s remarkable success in Edom upset Jacob we are not told.  Was he trying to emulate his brother by making a mark for himself?  It might well be.  Jacob remains silent throughout the chapter, silent, that is, until the very end when it was too late.  He seems to have lost all control over the behavior of his children. 

 

There are three in chapters in the book of Genesis that are not pretty at all, and they all concern the children of Leah, the elder daughter of Laban who was given to Jacob.  I believe that this gives evidence of the fact that God does not approve plurality of marriages (that is, a man having more than one wife).  The very fact that it was forced on Jacob to a certain extent did not make it right, by any means—Jacob at least went along with it.  We find in this section that the children of Leah are all involved in sin.  She had four boys.  In this chapter it is Simeon and Levi.  In chapter 35 we come to another of the sons, Reuben, the first born.  In chapter 38 it will be Judah.  Every one of Leah’s sons turned out rather badly, and there was obvious sin in their lives.

 

 

 

Commentary

 

Part #1: The Scandal Caused by Dinah’s Behavior (34: 1-7)

 

The sad event recorded here is centered around Jacob’s daughter, Dinah.  We make every possible allowance for the young woman.  After all, she was a child of the backwoods, so the lights of the big city were very bright for her.  The nomadic life in which she had been raised did nothing to equip her for the temptations of the exciting city nearby.  Such moral training as she might have received did not arm her against the flatteries of a dashing young prince like Shechem (probably named after the city).  The world can also look very attractive and alluring to children brought up in the shelter of a Christian home.  Often those brought up in godless homes know by bitter experience what a shallow, shameful place the world is.  Those brought up in a separated environment often find the world fascinating, that is, if they have not been taught to fear it.

 

 

1 And Dinah the daughter of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land. 

2 And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her.

 

As indicated by the stories of Rebekah (24:15-28) and of Rachel (29:6-12), the people of Haran allowed their girls considerable freedom of movement away from the house or the camp, because the moral standards of the area assured their safety.  Jacob’s family seemingly expected the same consideration for their women from the Shechem community.  They were in for a jolting surprise. 

 

“And Dinah the daughter of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land.  And . . . Shechem the son of Hamor . . . saw her.” That is when the trouble started.  What was Jacob thinking of, we wonder, to allow his daughter such freedom in such a place?  Perhaps he just had no idea who Dinah’s companions were, but if he did, there is even more reason to question his wisdom and parenting skills. A young person’s peers very quickly become the most important opinion-makers in his life, and peer pressure, once established, is very strong.  So, off Dinah went, all alone, to visit her unsaved friends and, of course, she was seen.  It must have been a decade sense Jacob had said his second farewell to Esau, for Dinah was the seventh child of Leah and she was now a teen-ager, but no older than 14 years old; she was born after Leah’s four sons (30:21).  And Joseph, who was about a year older than Dinah, was only 17 at the latter occasion recorded in 37:2—This is the account of Jacob and his family. When Joseph was seventeen years old . . .”

 

Children who are overindulged by their family, like Dinah, often become a disgrace and shame to their families.  Her pretense was to see the daughters of the land, to see how they dressed, and how they danced, and what was fashionable among them; she went to see, yet that was not all, she went to be seen too.  She went to get acquainted with the Canaanites, and to learn their ways.  Now see what became of Diana’s charade.  The beginning of sin is like the letting out of water from an inundated lake.  How great a matter does a little fire kindle!  We should therefore carefully avoid all temptations to sin and all approaches to it.

 

“And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her,” he recognized her, made it a point to get to know her better, and fell madly in love with her.  The moral principles of Shechem, however, were not those of the spiritually-minded Jacob, and Dinah soon forgot her father’s principles under the spell of that charmer from Shechem.

 

So, before long, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her.  She was no match for Shechem.  Here she was, a country girl, being courted by a prince of the realm.  He swept her off her feet, persuaded her that her father’s scruples were old-fashioned, persuaded her that moral standards were relative, not absolute, and that in Shechem and, indeed, in all of Canaan, “everybody did it.” There was no sin in it; it was just doing what came naturally.  So, throwing caution and even common sense to the winds, Dinah gave in.  After a woman was violated in this way, she had no expectation of ever having a valid marriage.  You may have concluded from what we have been told so far that the inhabitants of the land seemingly regarded unattended women has legitimate pray (see 12:15; 20:2; 26:7), so Dinah was at risk by going off alone.

 

As you read this chapter and notes several questions may occur to you, which, unfortunately, are not answered in the text.  Was Diana naive, rebellious, or just plain ignorant of the ways of the world?  Why was it so important that get to know the women of the land, and why didn’t her mother advise her and somebody dependable accompany her on her sightseeing trip?  (Her brothers were out in the field with the flocks.) For that matter, why was Jacob tarrying in this pagan neighborhood and deliberately endangering his family?  He should have been at Bethel leading them closer to the Lord.

 

 

3 And his soul clave unto Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the damsel, and spake kindly unto the damsel.

4 And Shechem spake unto his father Hamor, saying, Get me this damsel to wife.

5 And Jacob heard that he had defiled Dinah his daughter: now his sons were with his cattle in the field: and Jacob held his peace until they were come.

6 And Hamor the father of Shechem went out unto Jacob to commune with him.

7 And the sons of Jacob came out of the field when they heard it: and the men were grieved, and they were very wroth, because he had wrought folly in Israel[1] in lying with Jacob's daughter: which thing ought not to be done.

 

“Shechem” assaulted “Dinah” and then tried to persuade—“spake kindly” is not strong enough—her to accept his advances on a permanent basis.  He was successful, for he took her to his home and demanded that his father get the girl for him as a wife. Young Shechem had now fallen hopelessly in love with Diana [he loved the damsel], and, moved by that honest passion [His soul clave unto Dinah], he sought to make amends for the wrong he had done.  The youth had no sense of wrongdoing but was quite arrogant in the way he spoke to his father.  He urged his father to enter into formal negotiations with Diana’s family so that he could marry the girl [Get me this damsel to wife].  In all that follows Shechem proved himself to be an honorable man. 

 

When Jacob heard the news, he did not make a move until his sons returned from the fields with their flocks; they acted as a family unit in making their decisions.

 

“And Hamor the father of Shechem,” probably wanted to settle the details of the wedding—the size of Dinah’s dowry, the menu, a date for the ceremony— so he “went out unto Jacob to commune with him.” This crisis required a conference between the two families involved.  Hamor (His name means “ass.”) and Shechem represented one side, and Jacob and his angry sons represented the other.  On the surface the meeting was polite, but a seething resentment boiled in the hearts of Jacob’s sons, for to them this thing (Dinah’s defilement) ought not to be done.  So speaks moral conscience which is as old as history.  As long as men have been around they have had a sense of right and wrong, and have known that they were held accountable for their own wickedness.    It is noteworthy that neither Hamor nor Shechem offers an apology or excuse.  Apparently, they assume that the “offense” is no big deal.  To Jacob and his sons, however, Shechem’s deed was an act of grave immorality, an outrage against decency and family honor.

 

The news of Shechem’s seduction of Dinah had already leaked out back home. Jacob’s reaction is probably not what was expected, for we are told that “Jacob held his peace,” waiting until all his sons had come home. He particularly wanted to break the news to her closest brothers, Simeon and Levi. Unlike Jacob, their reaction was exactly what was expected—they were infuriated at the insult that had been heaped upon the family—and they could think of nothing but hot, swift, terrible vengeance to clear the family name.

 

 

Part #2: The Scandal Caused by Dinah’s Brothers (34: 8-31)

 

The story unfolds in four tragic steps.  IT BEGINS WITH THE DESPERATE CRAVING THAT CAUSED THE PROBLEM (34:8-12).  At the bottom of everything was Shechem’s passion for the girl he had shamed.  No price would be too great for him to pay to make the girl his lawful, wedded wife. 

 

 

8 And Hamor communed with them, saying, The soul of my son Shechem longeth for your daughter: I pray you give her him to wife.

 

The marriage negotiations were begun in this way.  Old Hamor, with a strong streak of the fox in him, approached Jacob and his sons to see what arrangements could be made to soothe troubled waters.

 

Hamor’s argument was simply that Shechem wanted Diana.  But he extended an inducement, Jacob’s family would be granted full citizen rights of intermarriage (9), free movement, participation in trade (10), and property ownership.  Shechem impulsively interjected the possibility of a sizable dowry (11), for he desperately wanted Dinah for a wife. 

 

 

9 And make ye marriages with us, and give your daughters unto us, and take our daughters unto you.

10 And ye shall dwell with us: and the land shall be before you; dwell and trade ye therein, and get you possessions therein.

 

His offer was an out-and-out worldly one.  He offered them worldly society.  “Make ye marriages with us,” he said.  The offer may not have been without its appeal.  Jacob’s sons were of marriage age and he must have given serious thought to the problem of where to find them wives.  But he was a patriarch, and marriage out of the will of God was not to be considered so far as he was concerned.  Then Hamor offered worldly security“Dwell with us,” he said.  That, too, must have been a temptation.  Jacob lived in a hostile, pagan world.  An alliance with a powerful Clan must have been bate hard to resist.  Finally, Hamor offered worldly success.  “The land shall be before you,” he said, “dwell and trade ye therein and get you possessions therein.” The prince of Shechem painted a picture of harmonious integration (v. 16, “become one people”).  However, Shechemite self-interest and enrichment actually prevailed (v. 23). Twenty years before Jacob would have jumped at the offer.  It was a generous enough proposition from a worldly point of view.  But that was the whole point.  It was a worldly offer.  While it was the best an unsaved man could offer, Hamor was making an offer the man who had met God at the Jabbok could not accept.  Had Jacob accepted the offer it would have wiped out the patriarchal line in a single generation.  (Verse 9 can be seen as one of many Satanic attempts to pollute the godly line.)

 

Although intermarriage would have been wrong, it seems that Dinah should have been given to Shechem simply because that would have prevented a worse sin.  This, of course, is hindsight, and “Monday morning quarterbacks” are not always right.

 

 

11 And Shechem said unto her father and unto her brethren, Let me find grace in your eyes, and what ye shall say unto me I will give.

12 Ask me never so much dowry and gift[2], and I will give according as ye shall say unto me: but give me the damsel to wife.

 

Before Jacob could speak young Shechem inserted himself into the conversation.  His father had spoken with the voice of persuasion; he spoke with the voice of passion.  He would do anything, anything to obtain his heart’s desire.  “Ask me the never so much dowry,” he urged, “and I will give it.” But it was that desperate craving that caused the problem.  Had Hamor been able to come with a simple offer of reparations the story might have been different.  But Shechem wanted Dinah, no matter what the cost.

 

 

13 And the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father deceitfully, and said, because he had defiled Dinah their sister:

14 And they said unto them, We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one that is uncircumcised; for that were a reproach unto us:

15 But in this will we consent unto you: If ye will be as we be, that every male of you be circumcised;

16 Then will we give our daughters unto you, and we will take your daughters to us, and we will dwell with you, and we will become one people.

17 But if ye will not hearken unto us, to be circumcised; then will we take our daughter, and we will be gone.

 

The story next tells of THE DESPICABLE CRAFTINESS THAT CHARACTERIZED THE PROCEEDINGS (34:13-24).  As was customary in their culture, Jacob’s sons take an active part in approving their sister’s marriage.  They were correct in opposing the end in view; the mixing of the chosen seed with the seed of the Canaanites.  Yet they were wrong in adopting the means they selected to achieve their end; thus, the description “Jacob’s sons” (v. 13) rather than “Diana’s brothers.” The thing that disturbs me about this incident is that the real reproach—the sin of rape—is ignored, and they make the reproach on the basis of the rule which God had given them regarding intermarriage with the uncircumcised[3].  Performing the rite of circumcision on unbelievers was as phony as it could be.  It is like baptizing the lost.  Notice that nothing is said of their teaching the people to worship the true God, but only of their insisting on their being circumcised; and it is evident that they did not seek to convert Shechem, but only made a show of religion.  The sons of Jacob under the pretense of conscientious scruples, conceal a scheme of treachery as cruel and diabolical as was perhaps, ever perpetrated.

 

The sons are following in their deceitful father’s footsteps.  It was the sons of Jacob who replied to Hamor’s appeal with an innocent sounding proposition, which nevertheless had lethal overtones.  They insisted that their own particular custom of circumcision be accepted by the entire male population of the city; otherwise they would leave the area.  Not suspecting a ruse, the father and son agreed to the plan.  It is hard to believe that such professing believers as Simeon and Levi could act as they did.  Truly, when a person is out of touch with God there are no depths to which he cannot sink. 

 

The deceitfulness now practiced was twofold.  There was the subtle dishonesty of Diana’s brothers (34:13-17).  They took over the negotiations.  “you are offering the wrong kind of currency,” they said.  “We won’t do business that way.  We are evaluating the wrong done to us not in terms of riches but in terms of religion.  You have done far more than defile our sister; you have dishonored and violated our religious convictions.  We have no intention of marrying our sister to a pagan, no matter who he is.  Before we can even consider a marital alliance with you people you must accept our basic religious principles.  You and all your Clan must be circumcised.  Apart from that there can be no further discussion.  However, if you will accept our terms we will accept yours.” That was the subtle dishonesty of Simeon and Levi.  They had not the slightest intention of allowing Shechem to marry Dinah.  What they really wanted would become only to obvious before long.  All dishonesty is wrong, but dishonesty wrapped up in Bible texts is the very worst kind.

 

 

18 And their words pleased Hamor, and Shechem Hamor's son.

19 And the young man deferred not to do the thing, because he had delight in Jacob's daughter: and he was more honourable than all the house of his father.

20 And Hamor and Shechem his son came unto the gate of their city, and communed with the men of their city, saying,

21 These men are peaceable with us; therefore let them dwell in the land, and trade therein; for the land, behold, it is large enough for them; let us take their daughters to us for wives, and let us give them our daughters.

22 Only herein will the men consent unto us for to dwell with us, to be one people, if every male among us be circumcised, as they are circumcised.

23 Shall not their cattle and their substance and every beast of their's be our's? only let us consent unto them, and they will dwell with us.

24 And unto Hamor and unto Shechem his son hearkened all that went out of the gate of his city; and every male was circumcised, all that went out of the gate of his city.

 

We next see the SIMPLER DISHONESTY of Shechem’s father (34:18-24).  Hamor was a scoundrel, but he almost seems like a saint when compared to Simeon and Levi.  Back to the city he went with his son to call the clan into council at “the gate of his city,” where community discussions were held and decisions made.  To get the whole city to submit to the painful rite of circumcision was going to take some convincing!  Hamor took the line that once the marriage contract was signed the Shechemites could proceed at their leisure to totally assimilate the Israelites and could then enrich themselves with the vast liquid assets Jacob so obviously possessed.  “Shall not their cattle and their substance . . . be our’s?” he urged (34:23).  “All we need to do is go along with this religious scruple of theirs, then we can swamp (overwhelm) them!” The greediness of the city fathers was aroused and Hamor’s arguments prevailed; all agreed that submitting to circumcision was not a high price to pay.

 

“All that went out of the gate of his city” is a figure of speech for men capable of bearing arms.  They were all circumcised, an operation which incapacitated them for several days. Of course, it would take more than circumcision to make Jews out of Canaanites since no covenant conditions were involved.  (The sacred sign of God’s covenant was to be used wickedly.)

 

 

25 And it came to pass on the third day, when they were sore, that two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah's brethren, took each man his sword, and came upon the city boldly, and slew all the males.

26 And they slew Hamor and Shechem his son with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah out of Shechem's house, and went out.

27 The sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and spoiled the city, because they had defiled their sister.

28 They took their sheep, and their oxen, and their asses, and that which was in the city, and that which was in the field,

29 And all their wealth, and all their little ones[4], and their wives took they captive, and spoiled even all that was in the house.

 

Next COMES THE DREADFUL CRIME THAT CONCLUDED THE PARTNERSHIP.  The agreement was signed and the rite of circumcision was administered to all the men of Shechem.  Two days passed to allow the full effect of the painful operation to be felt.  Simeon and Levi, two violent men, rallied some men from Jacob’s camp and entered the city. They knew that the circumcised males would not be able to fight, so at the opportune moment when the Shechemites were totally incapacitated, Simeon and Levi went up and down the streets of Shechem, bursting into every house, systematically massacring every man in the place including Hamor and Shechem, and rescued their sister. The other sons of Jacob then followed up with a general looting of the city and the flocks, and taking the survivors captive—thereby approving murder and mayhem as justifiable retribution for the destroyed honor of their sister (v. 31).  It was a deed worthy of the gestapo, and it reveals greed in the family of Jacob that is not right and which they had learned in the home of Laban. 

 

Dinah, who had been taken into Hamor’s household in preparation for the promised forthcoming marriage, was seized and dragged back home.  The sheep and oxen and all the portable wealth of the city was taken as spoil.  The women and children of the city were treated like captives taken in war.  The Holy Spirit lists each sordid detail (34:27-28), and each word falls like a lead weight of doom in the scales of the Holy One.  Simeon and Levi had acted worse than Assyrian shock troops, even worse than Shechem when he committed the original offense, crueler, more hateful, and more ruinous.  Moses, who tells the story in all its naked horror, still feels the outrage and the shame of the deed even after the passing of over 400 years.

 

The slaughter described in verses 25-29 outrages Jacob on an unexpected level, for a massacre of all males and the wholesale plunder of the city went way beyond the reasonable, wise, and justly deserved punishment of one man; this was a considerably more excessive vengeance than the Mosaic Law would later legislate (Deuteronomy 22:28, 29).  But Jacob seems to think only of his lowered standing among the local inhabitants.  His selfish response (34:30-31) reflects his focus on himself.  These things may cause us to wonder why Jacob, when speaking to his two sons, did not represent their actions as a heinous sin, an atrocious violation of the laws of God and man, but dwelt solely on the present consequences.

 

 

30 And Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, Ye have troubled me to make me to stink among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites: and I being few in number, they shall gather themselves together against me, and slay me; and I shall be destroyed, I and my house.

31 And they said, Should he deal with our sister as with an harlot?

 

Finally, we have THE DESPAIRING CRY THAT CONDEMNED THE PLOT.  Jacob stood and stared in horror at the vast amount of spoil that Levi and Simeon had hauled into his camp.  He stopped his ears at the pitiful cries of the newly-made widows and the orphaned children of Shechem.  He knew what the reaction of the surrounding countryside would be, and that his own clan could be wiped out.  He looked with dismay at his sons.  “You have made me both vile and vulnerable,” he cried.  “Ye, have troubled me to make me stink among the inhabitants of the land . . .  They shall gather themselves together against me, and slay me, and I shall be destroyed, I and my house.” It was a mild rebuke, a “slap on the wrist,” you might say. He was angry at them for giving him a bad name, but the boys were unrepentant and they responded with the question: “Should he deal with our sister as with an harlot?” The answer, of course, is “no!” But in their passion, the sons of Jacob were blinded to other alternatives to violence. Jacob realized that the event had clearly disqualified these two older sons as worthy to bear covenant responsibilities in the future. He felt naked and betrayed by them.  They had ruined his testimony, they had acted worse than the Canaanites and Perrizzites, they had made his very name a stench to the ungodly.  God’s chosen people in His holy land had behaved like cruel pagans.  He never forgave them, but he reserved his greater punishment until later (49:5-7). Jacob’s attitude was unworthy of a man of faith who was God’s chosen representative to the peoples of the earth.  He must bear some of the responsibility for this horrible act by his two sons.  Jacob had spent 20 years in Laban’s land, and now probably another 10 years at Succoth and Shechem without doing anything noteworthy to prepare his family spiritually for the strong currents of life.  He had been too busy building a material empire and gaining worldly advantage to attend to his children’s ethical and spiritual foundations.  The only good thing that Jacob may take away from this tragic episode is that all his sons had not been involved in the massacre.  Joseph was a boy, Benjamin was not yet born, and the other eight were hardly concerned at all.  Simeon and Levi alone, with their paid servants, had been the guilty actors in the bloody tragedy.

 

That was a good question, “Should he deal with our sister as with an harlot?” I would say that if they wanted to take the judgment into their own hands, they first of all should have heard this boy out and let him marry their sister.  It would have been the best thing to do under the circumstances, but it is not the right thing, by any means.  Certainly that would have been better than to go to the extreme of murdering the inhabitants of that land.  There is no excuse that can be offered, and I have no defense to offer for them at all.  They should not have done the thing that they did.

 

Later the nation of Israel was instructed to avoid defilement with the Canaanites.  Israel’s foreign policy was to destroy them completely before they could defile the Israelites (Deuteronomy 20:16-18).

 


[1] In verse seven, the name Israel is used for the first time as a reference to God’s chosen people.  The family of Jacob had a special relationship with God by divine calling, reflected in the name Israel (prince with God).

[2] Dowry and gift: the former was the price paid to the relatives for the bride, the latter the gift to the bride.

[3] Circumcision: the external rite by which persons were admitted to membership in the ancient Church.  But it was an outward rite and could not make the Shechemites true Israelites.

[4] Little ones: has also been rendered “household,” servants, etc.

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