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November 20, 2008 / Dan


I’m a big fan of Terminator: Sarah Conner Chronicles on FOX, although Jessica won’t watch it with me, what with the shooting and the blood and all. On an recent episode there was a Bible reference that I didn’t recognize, so off I went to look it up. The story is in Genesis 34, and it’s one, that while I may have heard a long time ago, I certainly didn’t recognize. I highly encourage you to read the chapter for yourself, it’s an easy read, but here’s my retelling.

Jacob has a daughter by Leah named Dinah. And someone is in the kitchen with Dinah… sorry couldn’t resist. Dinah goes out to visit “the women of the land.” I’m assuming this meant that she was gone a pretty far distance from the house. Shechem, son of Hamor, who was the ruler of the land, saw Dinah and liked what he saw. He liked it so much in fact, that he raped her. And after he raped her, he had the audacity to tell his father to go arrange a marriage.

When Jacob heard about the rape he was upset, but his sons were out in the field tending to the livestock, so he decided to just kept calm until they got home. About this time, the sons get in from the fields and are understandably upset about the rape and Hamor shows up to try and arrange the marriage between Dinah and Shechem. Not only did Hamor want Jacob to give Dinah to Shechem, he also wanted to Israelites and the Hivites to get along and intermarry and share livestock and land and generally be good neighbors. The problem with that was that God had commanded Jacob to be separate from other people of the land. He didn’t want the Israelites to defile themselves by getting caught up in the ways of the other people.

Hamor asks Jacob to let Shechem marry Dinah, in fact he says that he would be happy to pay a great “bride price” to show how much he wants the two groups of people to get along. Dinah’s brothers were still pretty upset about the rape and so they “answered Hamor deceitfully” and told him they couldn’t let Shechem, or any Hivite man, marry one of their women, because the Hivites were not circumcised. They tell Hamor that all the Hivite men must be circumcised before they can marry any Israelite women.

Hamor and Shechem think this is a pretty good deal (obviously Dinah was a foxy lady) and go ahead with the circumcision. They then proceed to the “gate of their city” and convince all the men of the town what a great deal this would be. They’ll be able to intermarry, share livestock, share land, and generally be at peace with the Israelites if only they were all circumcised. So all they men agreed to be circumcised (the Israelites must have had some awesome livestock).

Now is the interesting part, and I just can’t say it any better than did the writer so here’s Genesis 34:25-29.

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.

Jacob wasn’t too happy about this, because it was going to make life really difficult on him, but in the next chapter God tells him to move anyway.

I recapped that whole story to say just a couple of things.

Genesis (and the whole Bible for that matter) is full of amazing and interesting history that we sometimes miss. I can’t ever remember this story, but it’s fascinating. 

And finally, I hope if I ever have a son, he’ll be a brother to Rabun like Simeon and Levi were to Dinah.


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