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Bible: What Does Genesis 34-36 Teach Us About Dinah, Revenge, and Deaths in Israel's Family?
Shechem and Dinah
Shechem Violates Dinah/Levi and Simeon Take Revenge
While Dinah, Jacob’s only daughter, seeks to make some friends of Shechemite females, Shechem, the prince’s son, violates her (vv. 1-2).
[This incident may be more the sin of fornication than the crime of rape, because the text says that Shechem loved Dinah and was willing to marry her (vv. 3-4; cf. v. 19).
We do not know if Dinan felt anything for Shechem.]
Just how long he had known of her before he defiled her, the text does not say].
Similar to the approach Samson used, Shechem demands that Hamor his father acquire Dinah for him as his wife (v. 4; cf. Jud. 14:2).
When Jacob learns about the incident, he does not tell his sons the bad news until they come home from work (v. 5).
As the head of the household, he should have talked with Hamor about the consequences of such an action; instead, he exhibits a laissez-faire attitude, allowing his angry sons to “negotiate” with the Shechemites (vv. 6-7).
Undoubtedly seeing Jacob’s great wealth, Hamor desires to form a profitable alliance with him and his sons through multiple marriages (vv. 8-10).
Even Shechem himself is willing to give a great sum for Dinah’s hand (vv. 11-12).
The Slaughter of the Shechemites
Levi and Simeon's Revenge
Sensing an opening to exact their revenge, the sons of Jacob demand not only that Shechem submit to circumcision, but that all of the men who would desire to marry their daughters would also obey this commandment (vv. 13-17).
Hamor and Shechem spread the word among the men of their city, and convince them to go along with this arrangement, stressing the great increase in wealth that would accrue to them if they did (vv. 18-24a).
Thus, the Shechemites endure the operation (v. 24b).
While the newly circumcised are yet healing, Levi and Simeon, Dinah’s brothers, kill each Hivite male (including Hamor and Shechem), and plunder their city of all of its goods, livestock, and people (vv. 25-29).
When Jacob discovers what his sons had done, he is beside himself with anger and grief, fearing the destruction of his house (v. 30).
Simeon and Levi –apparently they accomplished this misdeed without the aid of the other brothers—offer Dinah’s “rape” as an excuse for murdering the entire male population of a city and enslaving its women and children (v. 31; cf. Judges 20).
[Jacob assumed that his sons would handle the controversy well enough, so he kept out of the business.
He did not believe that they would react in such a monstrous way.
If he truly understood sinful, human nature, Jacob should have anticipated something disruptive might happen and should have admonished his boys beforehand].
Deaths, Burials, and a Birth in Israel's Family
God tells Jacob to return to Bethel—the site of the “ladder dream” and a place of refuge from Esau—to dwell and worship there (v. 1).
After informing his family of the relocation plan, he collects their idols and trinkets, and buries them under a tree near Shechem (vv. 2-4).
[Why did he bury them?]
As they travel, God sends a fear into the hearts of their neighbors so that the latter do not attack them (v. 5).
[Obedience brings divine protection].
They arrive safely in Luz (Bethel), and Jacob sets up his worship center (vv. 6-7).
Sadly, Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, dies, and they bury her under another terebinth near Bethel (v. 8).
[Why does Moses mention this seemingly extraneous event?]
The LORD meets with Jacob again and reminds him of his new name (vv. 9-10; cf. 17: 5, 6; 32:28).
After commanding Israel to grow his family, God elaborates more upon how He will fulfill for him the provisions of the Abrahamic covenant, and then He departs (vv. 11-13).
In response to God's grace, Jacob repeats the same ritual that he performed earlier (vv. 14-15; cf. 28:18-19).
[This section’s repetitions appear somewhat awkward].
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Rachel and Isaac Die
Apparently, Israel was to dwell only temporarily in Bethel, for he leaves there and journeys toward Ephrath (v. 16).
There Rachel dies after giving birth to Ben-oni (“Son of my sorrow”), better known as Benjamin (“Son of my right hand”) [vv. 17-18].
[The birth of her second son is a fulfillment of her desire for such (see 30:24)].
Israel buries her near Ephrath (Bethlehem), and sets a pillar/marker on her grave (vv. 19-20).
Moving on from there to the land beyond the “tower of Eder,” Israel learns about Reuben’s adultery with Bilhah (vv. 21-22).
Moses says nothing else about this incident until later (see 49:3-4).
Before recording the final days of Isaac’s life, the author lists the members of Israel’s family (vv. 23-26).
Interestingly, Leah’s sons come first (v. 23), followed by Rachel’s (v. 24), but Moses names Bilhah (Rachel’s maidservant) before Zilpah (Leah’s maidservant) [vv. 25-26].
Israel then returns home to Isaac in Hebron/Mamre/Arba (v. 27).
There Isaac dies at the age of one hundred eighty—120 years after Jacob and Esau were born—, and Israel and Esau bury him (vv. 28-29; cf. 25:26).
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The Genealogy of Esau
Before moving on to more narrative, Moses delineates the genealogy (toledoth) of Esau (Edom) [v. 1].
Esau marries three Canaanite women who bore him five sons (vv. 2-5).
Verses 6-8 provide a substantial reason for Esau’s relocation to Mount Seir: the land in Canaan could not support both Jacob and him with all of their possessions.
[Again, the important theme—possessions—appears].
The genealogy lists Esau’s sons—Eliphaz (by wife Adah) and Reuel (by wife Basemath) [vv. 9-10]—and their prominent sons (vv. 11-13) before it mentions the sons he had by Aholibamah (v. 14).
[Note: Amalek, the head of Israel’s long-time enemy, was the son of Eliphaz through a concubine (v. 12)].
The order—Eliphaz (vv. 15-16), Reuel (v. 17), and Aholibamah (v. 18)—holds when the author pens the “chiefs” of the sons of Esau, who are none other than Esau’s grandsons.Verse 19 is merely a summary statement.
The next section lists the seven sons of Seir the Horite (vv. 20-21) and his grandchildren (vv. 22-28), and then summarizes that Seir’s sons were the Horite chiefs (vv. 29-30).
[It appears that Esau’s wife Aholibamah was the daughter of Anah, one of Seir’s sons, thus providing Seir’s connection to Esau’s genealogy].
Verses 31-39 provide a list of Edomite kings who reigned before Saul led Israel, and verses 40-43 delineate the chiefs of Esau.
[Although of little interest to most readers, these genealogies and lists of chiefs and kings provide a valuable background to the history of the Middle East].
© 2013 glynch1