Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 34:30-31

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?

Jacob was none too pleased that Simeon and Levi had slain all the males in the city. He pointed out that killing tends to lead to more killing, and that now he was in a dangerous situation with the other inhabitants of the land. Let us remember that Shechem, the man who raped Dinah, was the founder of the city by which they resided. They had killed a powerful man, his father, and all those under his protection.

As it turns out, though, Jacob and his family were not destroyed, but his words ended up being prophetic. The future of the Israelites in this land would be defined by the many wars that they have with all of their neighbors. The Israelites will be one nation with virtually no allies but hundreds of enemies, and eventually they would be overrun and carried away by those foes.

Simeon and Levi’s response, though, makes clear that they could not see their sister disgraced and not retaliate. Certainly, God was displeased with what had happened to Dinah, but that does not mean he approved of how Simeon and Levi responded. At this point it doesn’t matter, though. What was done was done, and the pattern of the Israelites being a peculiar people who slay the unclean had been established.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 34:25-26, 28-29

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.

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.

The men of the city had shown a complete lack of conscience in how they treated the rape of Dinah. Their blindness to their own offense ended up being their own undoing, though. For one who is blind to the fact that they have done anything wrong is also blind to the fact that their might be a vengeance brewing.

And so, in their haste to fulfill the requirement given by Jacob’s sons, all the men of the city were circumcised at the same time, meaning that all of them were compromised at the same time. There was no battalion of whole men kept as a reserve to protect them from sudden attacks. This was the moment of total weakness that Jacob’s sons had calculated for, and in their wrath Simeon and Levi descended upon the city and killed every male.

There is a powerful lesson here of what happens when an entire community collectively loses their conscience. Ecclesiastes 9:15 speaks of a city being saved by a single wise man. So long as their remains one who can see things as they truly are there remains hope. But what if there is no wise man? What if there is no one of conscience who can accurately predict consequences from actions? In that case the entire city is vulnerable. They will work their own destruction, and not even know they are doing so until it has consumed them.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 34:18, 20, 22-24

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

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

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 theirs be ours? 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.

Shechem and Hamor returned to their city and explained with delight how simple a task the sons of Jacob had delivered them. All they had to do was circumcise themselves, and then they would be able to marry the Israelites’ daughters and siphon their wealth to themselves.

Which is another example of the unworthy motivations in these men. They aren’t talking about this as if it would be a mutual partnership, they aren’t discussing ways that they will be able to support and grow the Israelite community as well, they are solely focused on how they can profit themselves at the others’ expense.

Thus, it is their blind greed that ultimately leads them to their demise. It seems the defining characteristic of these men is that they are so anxious to take advantage of others that they don’t realize when they’re the ones being taken advantage of instead.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 34:11-16

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.

Shechem tells Jacob and his sons to name their price. Whatever they ask he will give it as a wedding dowry. Once again, this only goes to show how unrepentant he is, thinking that he can pay a lofty enough sum and then all his immorality will be excused. He doesn’t seem to realize that suggesting Dinah’s lost innocence can be compensated for with money is only heaping fresh insults on top of his prior ones.

In answer, Jacob’s sons insist that Shechem and all the people of that land must be circumcised. They promise that if the men subject themselves to this, then the blending of the two cultures they have desired will occur. This, of course, is a lie and a trick, but because of their failure to comprehend the magnitude of their offense, the men of this land don’t think twice about agreeing to these terms.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 34:5, 7-10

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.

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.

Shechem’s father Hamor showed just as much disconnect from his conscience as his son did. Never in his proposal did he offer any apology for what his son had done, and never did he acknowledge the abuse that Dinah had been made to suffer. Instead he sought to flatter them with arms wide open, welcoming them into the community like this was a joyous occasion.

And maybe that was typical of the cultures in that time, I’m not sure, but verse 7 makes abundantly clear how Jacob’s sons were seething at the offense. The Israelites were not here to be part of these godless, pagan cultures. They were called to be a “peculiar people,” distinct from all their neighbors, holding themselves to a higher standard.

Today it is the same. There are many philosophies that seek to minimize guilt for harmful actions, that try to laugh off serious offense, that tell us depravity is just how life is supposed to be. And as followers of the gospel we are meant to reject that emphatically, to hold ourselves apart as a “peculiar people,” to be bold enough to live better.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 34:1-4

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.

The sequence that Hamor passed through of “saw her, took her, defiled her,” seems to suggest that he did not seduce the woman, he forced her. Afterwards it says that he loves her and speaks kindly, but that is a meaningless overture after subjecting her to a violent assault.

This occurrence lends some insight to Abraham and Isaac claiming that Sarah and Rebekah were their sisters and not their wives. Clearly these were dangerous places, with godless souls who cared neither for the commandments of God, nor the feelings of young women.

Furthermore, Hamor’s intention to sweep such a violation under the rug with a marriage proposal shows how disconnected he was from the gravity of his choices. To him and this father this was no terrible crime, merely an awkward indiscretion. Very soon they will be reminded the depth of feeling that these sorts of acts cause in others. I do not say that Dinah’s brothers were right to perform a mass murder as retaliation, but I do say that those who violate another human’s basic rights open themselves to all manner of fearful retribution.