by Rev Joel Yong
And Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, on his way from Paddan-aram, and he camped before the city. And from the sons of Hamor, Shechem’s father, he bought for a hundred pieces of money the piece of land on which he had pitched his tent. There he erected an altar and called it El-Elohe-Israel. Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to see the women of the land. And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of the land, saw her, he seized her and lay with her and humiliated her.
Jacob was now in Canaan.
Dinah, his daughter, thought she would go out, presumably alone- to see how the women dressed, did their hair, or even how they danced.
It was natural to yearn to do so- being a curious young woman.
But this passage highlights the sinful state of the land as well- for it was the royalty of the land that raped her.
The leadership being corrupt, signified how evil the land was.
The sons of Jacob plot their revenge, and when Shechem asks to marry the poor rape victim, Dinah- they deceive Shechem by pretending to agree and ask for circumcision of all their males as a condition, for agreeing to intermarry.
Look at the Canaanites’ response:
“These men are at peace with us; let them dwell in the land and trade in it, for behold, the land is large enough for them. Let us take their daughters as wives, and let us give them our daughters. Only on this condition will the men agree to dwell with us to become one people—when every male among us is circumcised as they are circumcised. Will not their livestock, their property and all their beasts be ours? Only let us agree with them, and they will dwell with us.”
They agree to do so! But they were not getting circumcised so that they could follow God but so that they could garner more crops, more livestock, more wives! It was a fleshly motive that drove them to agree.
They had no interest in following God at all.
This is exactly the reason why God forbade intermarrying amongst the Israelites and the people of other nations- it would dilute their faith and eventually cause the Israelites themselves to no longer follow God!
Watch how Simeon and Levi responded –
On the third day, when they were sore, two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, took their swords and came against the city while it felt secure and killed all the males. They killed Hamor and his son Shechem with the sword and took Dinah out of Shechem’s house and went away. The sons of Jacob came upon the slain and plundered the city, because they had defiled their sister. They took their flocks and their herds, their donkeys, and whatever was in the city and in the field. All their wealth, all their little ones and their wives, all that was in the houses, they captured and plundered.
The fleshly motivations of Hamor, Shechem and their people clouded their perspectives and they wound up dead- unable to discern that Shechem’s crime was severe in the eyes of Jacob’s sons and not easily brushed away by proposal of marriage.
What Simeon and Levi did, wasn’t right either.
They acted deceitfully and were also bloodthirsty in their vengeance, wiping out the entire city as a result.
This passage is one of many examples of the sinful state of a world that is unsafe (for the likes of curious Dinah), that is untrustworthy (instead of being hospitable, Shecem raped a female stranger in the land), that does not deliver on its word (Simeon and Levi managed to wipe out an entire city, beginning with their lies)
But it also highlights a world so much in need of God’s light, His truth and His ways …