October 31, 2022
“All the able-bodied men listened to Hamor and his son Shechem, and all the able-bodied men were circumcised. On the third day, when they were still in pain...”
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“All the able-bodied men listened to Hamor and his son Shechem, and all the able-bodied men were circumcised. On the third day, when they were still in pain, two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, took their swords, went to the unsuspecting city, and killed every male.” Genesis 34:24-25
They say it takes a lifetime to build a reputation and a moment to ruin it. Among the otherwise peaceful history of the Patriarchs, this story of Dinah’s rape (and the subsequent slaughter) stands out as particularly damaging to Israel’s reputation. It, no doubt, birthed the perpetuated hatred and suspicion of the Jews among the Arab people that exists to this day. What was its resounding myth? “You can’t trust a Jew.”
In our litigious culture, people seek to assign blame whenever something this repulsive happens. You gotta know who to sue! It seems there are several people at fault in this situation.
First, there’s Jacob, who allowed his daughter to roam the countryside un-chaperoned.
Next, Shechem commits the ultimate wrong by raping the young woman. That being said, it is unclear whether this was a sin in his culture.
Back to Jacob: Jacob’s response to the initial news was way too passive, a recurring theme in his character.
Then, we see Dinah’s brothers enter the picture. Simeon and Levi’s devious zeal for the family’s reputation supplanted their respect for their father and the honor of the Lord’s name.
Again, Shechem seizes the opportunity to save his neck by undergoing the knife of circumcision. In addition, he convinces all his people to be circumcised, not based on an acknowledgment of Jacob’s God, but on the prospects of obtaining the Jews’ possessions by default.
Back to Simeon and Levi…seriously, it was a cunning slaughter.
Yes, it’s a case that celebrity attorney Johnny Cochran would have loved. But what’s the MORAL? The moral is: We are all human, and nobody is without sin. “All have sinned and come short of God’s glory.” (Romans 3:23) That is precisely why the world needs salvation.
Finally, the actions of Jacob’s sons draw an interesting parallel to the “Judaizers” in the early Church. I am speaking of those who replaced God’s grace and mercy with keeping the Torah’s requirements. By forcing the “knife” of the traditions of the elders, those “Judaizers” slaughtered the chances for many Gentile converts to flourish, unfettered, in their newfound personal relationships with Messiah Jesus.