Genesis 34 – Dinah and Shechem, genocide of the Hivite males

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.

Observations:

  • 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.

Observations:

  • 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.

 

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Genesis 4 – Mystery of Lamech and the Slain

At the end of Genesis 4 we are introduced to Lamech and his two wives, who bear him sons who are the progenitors of skilled trades within this Middle Eastern culture.

Cryptically we are also introduced to what looks and sounds like a song or poem that Lamech spoke to his wives:

Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; Ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech: For I have slain a man for wounding me, and a young man for bruising me: If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, Truly Lamech seventy and seven fold.

So what in the world did Lamech do? Whatever the man and young man did to him, he worsened the situation by killing them both. Then the book goes on to explain the birth of the 3rd son (we think) of Adam and Eve: Seth. But what’s this song of Lamech all about? Who were the man and young man he had slain?

Lamech.jpg
Lamech and his two wives. Who is the man slain on the ground?

The Bible in its current form doesn’t discuss, but there is a text that does: The Book of Jasher.

So, modern Christians, what do you do when you come across a cryptic verse in the Bible with little to zero explanation? Do you ponder on it, ignore it, or write it off? If there are texts that not only explain this mystery but add to the story of Genesis in total, would you be willing to read it?

I know for some, the answer is a resounding “NO!” for the Bible in it’s current form is supposed to be some divinely collated tome, without imperfection, and whole and complete as could possibly be.

For those with a more open mind, the story of Lamech mirrors the story of Cain, so much that, even as Lamech admits in his song that it mirrors Cain, it circles back to Cain in a way you wouldn’t possibly think.

Should it also be noted that this would be the 3rd murder mentioned in the Bible, but it’s not attributed to Satan or any part of DSL?

Genesis 4 – Cain/Abel, Curse of Cain, Cain’s wife?

Genesis 4:1 “…I have gotten a man with the help of Jehovah.” Ok, is Eve referring to getting a man (Adam)? Or is she referring to a “man” being born to her who was named Cain? With really zero information about how/why they became so, Abel is said to be a keeper of sheep (pastoralist) and Cain a tiller of the ground (agriculturalist). Jehovah favors Abel’s offerings over Cain’s, Cain becomes angry, and he is scolded by Jehovah. He is told that if he does well, his offering will be lifted, but if he does not, then it is a sin, which he is told he does rule over the sin. Cain confronts his brother in the field and slays him.

Cain and Abel
A rendition of the slaying of Abel and the discovery by Jehovah

Jehovah curses Cain to walk the earth as a wanderer and a vagabond, and the earth will not yield to him. Cain, in anguish, says the curse is too much to bear and that all who meet him will want to slay him.

Genesis 4:14 “… and it will come to pass, that whosoever findeth me will slay me.”

Ok, supposedly Cain is the 3rd person to have been created, so then who is he referring to when he says “whosoever”? Is he referring to other people who wander the earth, people not addressed in this particular Jehovah creation? Could he be referring to the beings that God in Genesis 1 refers to when he says “we”? Or is he referring to a possible people described as being created in Genesis 1:26?

Cain is still Jehovah’s creation so he puts a curse on anyone who would slay him will receive vengeance 7 fold, and Jehovah appoints a sign for Cain so that anyone who finds him will not kill him. So just what was this “sign”? I hear it often called the “mark of Cain” but it’s not described. Was it an actual sign worn over his neck? Was it a mark on his body, face, or other that would make it apparent to anyone not to slay the wearer?

Cain leaves Jehovah, goes to the land of Nod, east of Eden, and with his wife, conceives his first son Enoch.

Ok, so where did his wife come from? Was she already on the earth just in a different part? Those who believe Adam and Eve were the first two people on earth would just then say “oh well Adam and Eve must have had daughters.” But the Bible does not mention any daughters! Again, it does not even mention that Adam and Eve were the first on earth, only that they were put into the Garden to tend to it. We just ASSUME they were the first.

Mysteries that are just not covered in the text. I believe they are key to our understanding of what the stories of the Bible truly tell. Creation was good in Book 1, but the Creation of Book 2 to this point on is chaotic, bloody, and imperfect and leads to more questions that just aren’t answered in these texts.

So what happens when there are no definitive answers? We come up with our own. “Well Adam and Eve had daughters so that explains where the wives came from.” The Bible does not say that. “Adam and Eve were the first man and woman on Earth”. The Bible does not say that.

When we make up our own answers and conclusions, and the person next to us makes up their own, then we source the divisiveness that has separated individuals, families, congregations and churches since the first “church” was created.

Anthropologist point of view: This distinction between pastoralist vs agriculturalist and one being favored over the other tells me that this could be a story describing, allegorically, the changeover of a culture into a pastoral based way of life. After all, it was divinely chosen and favored by the so called creator god of this people.