Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite defiles Jacob’s daughter from Leah, Dinah, and he falls in love with her. Shechem asks his father Hamor to go through the steps to make Dinah his wife. Hamor the father communed with Jacob the father in this matter, Jacob knowing his daughter was defiled but keeping it from his 12 sons.
Genesis 34:7 – 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.
- The concept of Israel not being solely Jacob, but Israel being the collective group that differentiates itself from outsiders, in this case the Hivites.
- Jacob’s sons at this point were “men”, not just children
- A man has defiled a daughter and the writer insists this is a thing “which thing ought not to be done”. Fair enough. Will it happen again? Will the guilty parties be one of the twelve sons of Jacob, or related? The fact the writer noted an absolute statement, let’s see if it holds up in future verse.
- The cultural concept of a communing in regards to a man/woman marriage is described in some detail. Father communes with father and a bargain or agreement is created.
Hamor, in bargaining for Dinah’s marriage to his son Shechem, offers all to Jacob, as long as he can arrange the marriage. Jacob’s sons, still angry:
34:13 – And the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father deceitfully, and said, because he had defiled Dinah their sister: And they said unto them, We cannot do this thing; for that were a reproach unto us: But in this will we consent to you: If ye will be as we, that every male of you be circumcised; Then we will 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.
Interesting that it’s the sons, not Jacob, that lay the groundwork for a gentleman’s agreement. Hamor and his son approve of this agreement, but, we soon find out that Jacob’s sons didn’t plan on keeping this arrangement. Hamor and his son were quite serious about it however, as they pleaded to their people to honor the arrangement:
34:20 – And Hamor and Shechem his son came unto the gate of their city, and communed with the men of their city, saying, 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. 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.
In another what seems like a logical step stemming from an affront of defiling a man’s daughter, Hamor and Shechem plead to their people to accept this arrangement with an egalitarian view that they all become one people. The Hivites accept, and all men become circumcised as per the arrangement.
On the 3rd day, Simeon and Levi, two of Jacob’s sons, then slew all the male Hivites in the city, despite the “consent” and agreement they made with the Hivites. This includes the slaying of Hamor and Shechem and taking spoils of the entire city. Wives and children were taken captive.
Jacob is displeased with their actions, but the brothers defend themselves by alluding to the fact that their sister was defiled.
- No mention whether the original agreement was falsely claimed by the 12 sons, though by Simeon and Levi’s actions that seemed to be the case.
- As terrible as the defilement of Dinah was, the Hivites offered their entirety to Jacob and his sons and his people in what might be assumed as a penance to affront of defilement.
- No mention of what Dinah thought of the whole situation, almost as if she did not have a voice, nor was it important.
- Another clue to the role of women in this biblical culture
- Israel is used as a term in this chapter to describe the collective group, not just Jacob which is what the mandate was in Chapter 32.
- The sons come off as renegades, endangering their father and their collective, and breaking an agreement they made with those who were ready to make great changes to their way of life to accept Jacob and his people as equal.
- No mention of the meddling hand of Jehovah AND
- 34 chapters into Genesis, plenty of wickedness and deceit, but none of it has been equated with the Devil/Satan.
- All actions up to this point can be attributed to simple human nature, good and bad. Nowadays we blame the bad on the Devil. Was this the case at this time in Biblical history?
In summary, while we might equate “defilement” with rape, we also need to understand that the culture of these peoples was much different than ours 2000+ years later. While the actions of Shemech would anger any father/brother, the consequential agreement and violation of that agreement would also be a defilement of mans ability to negotiate with his fellow man. Jacob’s two sons put their father in a serious bind, one which Jacob acknowledges threatens their entire collective.