We take another look at the life of Jacob in Genesis 34 where the effects of his flaws become glaringly apparent. Jacob's passive parenting and dysfunctional family result in an ungodly reaction to the rape of his daughter, Dinah. Let's examine profound spiritual truths, learn important principles to apply to our own families, and renew our hope in the grace of God.
The book of Genesis is rich with theology including creation, the fall of man, and justification by grace through faith. Genesis, the book of beginnings, provides foundational truths from which we can learn who God is and how He operates in the lives of His people.
In this study of Genesis, Pastor Skip Heitzig presents an in-depth examination and fresh perspective of familiar stories like the creation, Adam & Eve, Noah and the Flood, the call of Abraham, and Sodom and Gomorrah. This series offers solid information to equip believers with truth in today's battle against the lies of evolution, the basic goodness of man, and a "fairy tale" approach to the Bible.
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Keywords: Jacob, disobedience, circumcision, rape, remuneration, retaliation, parenting, Dinah
If you read ahead, this chapter is a distressing kind of a chapter. In fact, as I was reading this chapter, I thought of the term dysfunctional family so I decided to get a working definition by a pretty notable source who deals with this on what a dysfunctional family is. Here's, from one source, the definition: a dysfunctional family is a family in which conflict and misbehavior on the part of an individual family member occurs continually and regularly leading other members to accommodate such actions.
Well if that is the case, then welcome to dysfunction junction. The life of the patriarchs. All of them so far have been dysfunctional. Remember Abraham? Not a pretty picture. There was conflict within his family with his wife Sarah and her handmaiden Hagar and the two boys that came out of that union. There was dysfunction in the life of Isaac, their son, because Isaac had a couple of boys, Esau and Jacob. Esau was Isaac's favorite boy. Jacob was Rebekah's favorite boy. And the conflict developed and the dysfunction went on for a lifetime.
Now we get to Jacob's family and it's like the next generation gets worse and worse and worse. You are at dysfunction junction. It's notable because these are the first men that God chose to form the nation of Israel. I hope you are encouraged by that because, and I'm not gonna ask for a show of hands, I was almost tempted to say how many of you came from dysfunctional families, many or all of us have.
Well in tonight's study, this chapter, you could look at it in three sections. First section is rape. See I told you there is dysfunction--rape--verses 1 through 5. The second section: remuneration because of the rape. That's verses 5 through 12. And then finally, retaliation by the boys. That's the third section, verses 13 through 31. And we're gonna be looking at all of them tonight.
Now just go back in your mind to get a grasp on Jacob as a person and as a father. Personally, he was a deceiver. Collectively as a father, he was passive. He was passive because you remember back in chapters 29 and 30 when his wives, plural, he had two of them, really four of them because each of them had a handmaiden, they were competing on who could have the most kids.
And every time one of them would get pregnant, they would say oh the Lord is showing His favor on me. Now my husband's really gonna love me more than her. And they were competing back and forth, even this weird mandrake thing that they had going on, and during this whole competition Jacob seems to be totally passive. Just sort of like, oh well ok, whatever you want, honeys--plural. And we see that again here tonight. There's passivity. Jacob was the one who deceived his brother, stealing the blessing, who went and deceived Uncle Laban when he want to Padan Aram and now when he's coming back he even deceives his brother again, Esau.
If you remember back, just remember in your mind, remember when he came to meet Esau in the previous chapter? And he was afraid that Esau was gonna kill him and so he sent the family members in front just in case he would kill them and then at least he could escape. When they finally meet, and Esau's full of love and forgiveness and they embrace each other, the parting words of Jacob to his brother Esau, when Esau says come with me, my brother, he goes no, no, no, you go on ahead. Go to Seir. Go back to your home. I'll come there and visit you later. He doesn't do that. He doesn't even show up at Seir. He had no intention of going there. He just said God bless you. I'll be there. And he goes to a different place. That is the guy that we're dealing with and we deal with him again in chapter 34. Now there's a red flag.
The red flag in this chapter is the name of God does not appear even once. It appeared previously, it will appear in chapter 35, but in chapter 34 there's no mention of the name of God and I would say that red flag shows us that God's wisdom is not present in these activities of the family. Do you remember the place where God made Himself known to Jacob and what that place became known as and it was the place that he would eventually retreat back to? It was called Bethel, remember that? Bethel. It meant the house of God. It was the place God spoke to him and he built an altar there at one time to the Lord. It was a place of intimacy and fellowship.
That's where Jacob should've gone. He should've gone back to Bethel to meet intimately with God once again and to influence his family and say kids, let me tell you the story of what happened in this place and what God has done for me and for you. But he doesn't go to Bethel. We saw, in our last study or our previous study in chapter 33, that he goes to two places. One and then another. A place called Succoth and then he later moves to a place called Shechem. Succoth and Shechem.
Now he tells his brother I'll see you in Seir--doesn't go there, that's down south. Doesn't go back to Bethel. And we don't exactly know why. Why wouldn't he go back to the place where God spoke to him and he built an altar to the Lord and God made a covenant with him? The place where he said God is in this place. I didn't know it before but now I know it. Why didn't he? Well we don't know. It could be this simple. It could be that he just got tired of that place.
You know, I've been there, I've done that. There's more to see. There's more to live. And so he moves to one place, gets bored with that, not happy there, moves to the next place thinking he's gonna be happy there. Could be as simple as that. I want to be happy and I'm not happy here. Well you know what? There's an interesting truth. If you're not happy where you are, you will not be happy where you move.
That may be a shock to some of you who are planning on moving because you just, I just hate it here and I just gotta move somewhere else because I'll be happy if I do and I've never really been happy here. You will be as unhappy there as you are here and here's why. Because you have to take with you your discontented little self. You have to go with you. Now it'd be nice if you could leave you behind, but you can't. And that's where the problem is. It's not on the outside, it's on the inside. If you're discontented now, you will be discontented there because, you see, contentment is something that doesn't come naturally but you learn it. You learn it.
Paul the apostle, who went from one bad experience to another, said I have learned in whatever state I am therein to be content. And it could be that Jacob hadn't learned that yet. Done with Bethel--been there, done that. Wanna see Succoth and now Shechem. Shechem is a place where unbelievers are hanging out. It's a pagan neighborhood. And in so moving to Shechem, he will place his entire family in jeopardy.
See that's the thing with decisions, isn't it? Whatever we decide to do, wherever we decide to go, those that we love, those that are a part of us, we can place them in the place of blessing if we're in God's will or we can place them in the place of danger if we're out of God's will--jeopardy. And so we never sin alone. The people around us suffer as well. I think Jonah's a good example of that, don't you? He decided I'm done with preaching for God. I definitely don't want to go to Nineveh. Uh-uh. Decides to go the opposite direction and get on a little boat and take a Princess Cruise and see Portugal.
The mistake is thinking that he was alone in the episode. As soon as he got on a boat with other people, every crew member aboard that boat was in jeopardy. The boat almost drowned. Everybody aboard was scared to death and cried out to his own god and was mystified and perplexed that the only person aboard not praying was the very man who should be praying: the prophet of God, Jonah. He placed everybody aboard in jeopardy. Abraham decided I'm going down to Egypt. There's a famine in the land. He placed himself, his wife because he lied about her being his sister, and his entire retinue in jeopardy. Jacob decides, done with Bethel, it's time for Shechem. And so he goes there.
Now perhaps as we get into this tonight some of you men who are husbands, leaders of your home, some of you need to get back to Bethel, the house of God, the place of blessing, the place God has called you to be with Him, where He is number one in your life. And perhaps He's going to do it through this very meeting tonight and if that's the case, then it certainly wasn't in vain that we met tonight. It was Jesus who, in Revelation chapter 2, said to the church, the believers at Ephesus, remember from where you have fallen. Repent and do your first works over again. Remember. Repent. Repeat. The three 'R's. Not reading and writing and 'rithmetic. Remember, repent, and repeat. Do those first works over again.
And for some men, perhaps tonight, God will use this chapter to get a hold of you and your own spiritual values and priorities and get you back to that place of blessing. Well we begin in verse 1, obviously, and the first section is before us in the very first few verses and that is the rape of Jacob's daughter. She's introduced in verse 1: "Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land." By this time, Dinah must've been a teenager. Most biblical commentators, scholars, say she was probably between 15 and 16 years of age. Kyle and Dieletsch, great scholars in the Old Testament, by comparing this with other references in the book of Genesis, fix her age at somewhere between age 13 and age 15. She's a young woman. In those days she was of marriageable age, but she was young. We would consider her a child.
But she's in a new place and she's a kid. She's curious. She wants to find the other neighbor kids, right? Find out who those other girls are in the neighborhood and play with them. However, given the nature of the neighborhood, that it is a pagan Hivite neighborhood, you would think at least Mom would say, know what? You got a whole bunch of brothers. You're not going out alone. I want to make sure you have some accompaniment. But there's no indication of accompaniment. She just goes out to see the daughters of the land.
Verse 2, "And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her and lay with her, and violated her." That is, he sexually assaulted her. He raped her. "His soul was strongly attracted to Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the young woman". Now this is a little bit odd to me. He sees her, obviously there's lust involved, he's a very aggressive young man, he violates her, forces her, and then he looks at her and goes, I love her. But he says he loved her. "And spoke kindly to the young woman. So Shechem spoke to his father".
Now Shechem is the son, Hamor is the father; the town they live in is called Shechem. So either the town was named after the boy or the boy was named after the town. I think it was the first one because you'll notice in verse 2 he's called the prince of the country. So obviously he was of notoriety and very spoiled and very petulant and very aggressive because he even says in verse 4, notice how he talks to his dad, "So Shechem spoke to his father Hamor, saying, "Get me this young woman as a wife." So he's giving orders to his father. So Dinah fell in with the wrong crowd. She's curious, wants to meet the other girls, and in falling in with the wrong crowd, on her first date with this Prince Charming, he rapes her.
And then he says I love you and tells his dad I love her. Now there is a typical pattern for young men. It's not always this way but it is often this way, that young men, and I'm speaking young worldly men, in a typical sort of way, will give love in order to get sex. That is, they'll say I love you when in reality they love themselves and they love what you can give to them in terms of sexual favors. So the typical pattern is young men will often give love in order to get sex and conversely, young women will often give sex in order to get love. Because what they really want is love. What they really want is acceptance. What they really want is friendship and intimacy.
But you have a guy who says, you know, I love you, and he's saying that, not because he loves her but because he wants sex, and so she wants to be loved, especially when he turns on the charm, Prince Charming becomes the prince who says, not only do I love you but I can't live without you and if you really love me, you'll give me what I want. And then you discover he's not Prince Charming after all.
Verse 5 takes us to the second section, remuneration: "And Jacob heard that he had defiled Dinah his daughter." And he became unglued. Oh it doesn't say that, does it? No it's interesting what it does say. In fact, I don't know that I could have reacted this way. "Now his sons were with his livestock in the field; so Jacob held his peace until they came." Just well... I'll wait till the boys get home and we'll talk this over. Have a family powwow. I couldn't have done that. I would've found that kid. I'd have chased him down. I certainly would've talked to his father.
That would've been my first course of action. I want to see Hamor. Hamor? Do you know what your son has just done to my daughter? But he waited. He held his peace until they came. He's maybe in shock, maybe doesn't know how to act or react or respond. He waits till the kids come home, the boys, and he has a powwow. It says, "Then Hamor the father of Shechem went out to Jacob to speak with him." So he takes the first, the initial, play. "And the sons of Jacob came in from the field when they heard it; and the men were grieved and very angry". Why? Because someone's been in the kitchen with Dinah. "Because he had done a disgraceful thing". That's what it was. It was a disgraceful thing, "in Israel by lying with Jacob's daughter, a thing which ought not to be done."
Now notice something. In that last verse, the mention of Israel. Not as a person, Jacob was named Jacob and then renamed Israel, right? One who fights victoriously with God or prince of God. But for the first time, and I always want to give to you the rule of first mention, the first time Israel is mentioned as a nation is here. And yet they're not a nation yet. They are only a nation in terms of a group of people forming together in a nascent state. Embryonic state. And here the term that would refer to the nation of Israel is referring to the people rather than the land. Not the property of Israel, not the land of Israel, but the people of Israel, those who have a special covenant relationship with God because of God's relationship with Jacob.
But it's a disgraceful and it will always be a disgraceful thing, as far as the laws of Israel will be concerned, "a disgraceful thing in Israel by lying with Jacob's daughter, a thing which ought not to be done." Now did you know that it was customary, in those days, for the entire family to get together and approve of any marriage? Usually the dads would get together. Hey, I have a son who is handsome, hardworking. You have a beautiful young daughter. Let's sign a deal right now.
Now the kids could be toddlers so I don't know how hardworking a toddler would be but the father would say I have a son, you have a daughter, let's strike up a deal, a contract right now that promises them to be wed to each other. So before the kids really know each other or even know what marriage is, they're engaged, so to speak. Then it is approved by the entire family. It's a family affair. A family deal. A family contract which isn't all that bad.
Now hear me out. Those in that family are eventually going to be your future in-laws, hopefully not outlaws, they're gonna be part of your family or part of your future forever in some kind of a relationship. You want to make sure it's a good relationship now. In fact, I would say if somebody in your family has constant doubts about that person that you say you want to marry, you should at least take heed and listen to them. Especially if they have your best interests at heart. Take counsel. Move slowly. Move wisely. In the multitude of counselors, there is safety. So the marriages were arranged. Here's an emergency situation. There's been a rape. The fathers get together, the sons come in, there still has to be an approval process.
I remember the first time I was in India. I was with Lenya. We were newly married, didn't have our son Nate. Just been married a couple years and so we went over there doing ministry in India and they looked at this young couple and they said well, you know, how long have you known each other, how long have you been married. And we were telling them our story and then they would tell us their stories that in their country it wasn't like our country where a young man dates a young woman and then asks her to marry her. They said oh there are still arranged marriages in our country. And I said excuse me? They said oh yes, I got married because her parents and my parents got together and they prayed about it before the Lord and they believed it was the Lord's will and we're married. I said, you know, wait a minute.
And I just thought that sounded so foreign to me. It honestly sounded, well, unappealing. Goofy. Backwards. And as I started expressing my concern, one of them said now wait a minute, brother. And he said I'll have you know that our divorce rate is miniscule compared to your divorce rate because, you see, we learn early on that it's commitment. We have already been committed by our parents to each other. We learn that commitment comes first, feelings come later. You do it backwards. You base everything on how you feel and hope that you still feel good over time. And hopefully learn a commitment as time goes on. We've already learned the commitment by the time we approach the marriage altar. So I love the thought of an arranged marriage.
That my heavenly Father and your heavenly Father, our Father in heaven, knows the right one that's for us and so we wait on Him. He's the one, not your earthly parents, as much as your heavenly Father. You wait and you pray and you make sure that's the one the heavenly Father has for you.
Verse 8; let's get on with the story: "But Hamor spoke with them, saying, "The soul of my son Shechem longs for your daughter. Please give her to him as a wife. And make marriages [plural] with us; give your daughters [plural] to us, and take our daughters to yourselves." He had a lot of sons. Now I have to say that as far as Hamor and Shechem are concerned, they're honorable. He didn't have Shechem at home after this going, I don't know what to do, I just won't do anything. You know, he wasn't a wimp. He stepped up to the plate, admitted what he had done, said I love you, I'm gonna take responsibility, and gets his father involved, and for pagans, you gotta admit, this is a pretty honorable gesture. More so than what Jacob and the sons are about to be involved in.
Do you remember back, some of you, to the elections, presidential elections in 1992 and 96 when a guy named Ross Perot was running for president? Remember Ross Perot? An interesting character. And I didn't vote for him but I was fascinated by him because I remember on one occasion he was talking about morality and he was very blunt. He said now see I wanna say something to you young men. He said if you get a young woman pregnant and you don't take responsibility for her, I want you to know you are the scum of the earth. And I thought alright! I like that! Now he was not politically correct but it was correct. And here these two gentlemen are taking responsibility.
However, just because a young man would get a girl pregnant, there's no indication that she was pregnant, but let's say there is a pregnancy. Just because there is a pregnancy does not necessitate that there must be a wedding that follows. Now it'd be nice if their mature enough and they can make that commitment, but it could be that if they got married the circumstances could be such that it would be detrimental for them and for the child and sometimes the best option would be adoption.
There's lots of families that would love to have children that can't and adoption is a wonderful way of giving to a family that can't have children any other way or want more and could care for them in a loving manner to do so. But they step up to the plate. In fact, the deal is, let's make marriages. Daughters, sons, all of us living happily ever after. Verse 10: "So you shall dwell with us, and the land shall be before you. Dwell and trade in it, and acquire possessions for yourselves in it." In other words, settle down here with us. Make yourself at home with us.
Now I believe, and I want to jog your memory a little bit, I believe that this is one of Satan's first attempts to pollute the royal line. Do you know what I mean by that? Remember back in Genesis chapter 3 verse 15, that promise that Satan, the serpent, would come and bruise the heel of the Messiah but the Messiah would crush his head? And so God promised a lineage and eventually someone would be born in that lineage that would be the Messiah, Christ, who would crush the domain of Satan. And ever since that promise, Satan has tried to contravene and counteract it by his own kind of defensive warfare and killing off anyone who could be the promised line.
So as soon as that promise was given, Cain kills his brother Abel. I believe induced by Satan to do so in an attempt to destroy the royal lineage. God raises up Seth as the royal line but as that line grows and populates the whole earth becomes corrupt until God has to judge because of His own character the entire world and everybody on earth is destroyed except for a people--except--and that's the exception clause because the royal Messianic seed is incorporated in that eight people: Noah and his family. That warfare goes on and I believe we see a hint of it here. It's an attempt to say hey look, don't be separated, come join us. We'll just marry our kids into each other's families and we'll just live happily ever after. They'll be no difference.
Is that a problem for a believer? Is that a problem? Oh yes. It is a problem. There's a principle that's important to remember not only here but throughout the Scripture and in our lives. 2 Corinthians chapter 6 Paul writes, do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. Now he's using a farming analogy. A farmer who wants a plow pulled on his land would put animals in a yoke. He would at least have two animals if not more. Well he would never put two animals that aren't aligned or have the same temperament. He would find two animals that are alike, same size, same strength, same temperament, to do the work. You'd never have a Clydesdale horse yoked to a miniature burrow. Wouldn't work! It actually, because it'd be off kilter, it'd probably just be plowing in circles all day--be weird.
So the farmer wants them to go in the same direction for the same length of time to do the same kind of work so he picks equally yoked animals. Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. Now contextually or in its context when Paul wrote that he was referring to the false teachers at Corinth that some of the true believers were getting yoked with and he calls these false teachers who even called themselves Christian ministers, he just calls them unbelievers. Don't be yoked together with those unbelievers. So that's the principle context of it.
However, there's a broader principle. That principle applies to a lot of areas of life: whether you get married to an unbeliever or start a business venture with an unbeliever. You want to do that? Ok. But know that there's gonna be heartbreak and heartache. That unequal yoke won't allow you to follow the directions from the Master. And if one person in the marriage is a true believer and the other is not a believer, you're not gonna be pulling in the same direction. In fact, you'll be pulling in opposite directions. It's very difficult. And so that's the principle and it's a principle that is violated here as well. Don't be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. Here's another translation: stop forming intimate and inconsistent relationships with unbelievers. Here's another translation of that: don't be mis-mated, mis-mated, or mismatched with an unbeliever.
Now that is why Paul takes that principle and does apply it to marriage later on. When he speaks in 1 Corinthians chapter 7, he says if you're a believer and you're un or your husband or wife dies you can go ahead and get remarried. But then he says only in the Lord. Only in the Lord. Make sure they're in the Lord. That they love the Lord, that they're born again under the Lord, that they serve the Lord. So you can go in the same direction. Because otherwise what do you have in common? That's his whole point. What do you have in common with an unbeliever? Well we both like rap music. Well there's your problem. Just kidding. Verse 11.
Now the young man speaks to Jacob and his boys. Watch this. The young man is gonna talk to his potential father-in-law and his sons. "Then Shechem said to her father and her brothers, "Let me find favor in your eyes, and whatever you say to me I will give." So he sounds honorable. "Ask me ever so much dowry," in Hebrew mohar, dowry, I'll explain that in a minute, "Ask me ever so much dowry and gift". Now this could be something different from the dowry, but a personal gift given to Dinah, the bride. "And I will give according to what you say to me; but give me the young woman as a wife."
Ok. A dowry was a chunk of money given to the father of the bride--remuneration. The family of the groom would give to the father of the bride a chunk of money. Why? To buy her? No. It had nothing to do with paying for her but to compensate him for the loss of help. After all, having kids in those days, my father believed in this principle, kids were part of the workforce. You have kids at home, they work around the house. They do the chores. They do the work. They plow the fields in those days. Male or female they had their duties and I've been in Bedouin communities to this day and watched young girls out there plowing the fields. So he's gonna lose his daughter. He's gonna lose help. So the dowry was to compensate Dad for the lack of a hired hand or actually a free hand.
Now he says you name the price. Why? Because in the case of premarital intercourse in ancient cultures, now this is before the Law of Moses, in ancient cultures, if there was any premarital intercourse a dowry had to be presented to legitimize the union, otherwise it wasn't legitimate. And the father of the bride could ask any price he wanted. Any price he wanted. Later on the Law of Moses, under the Law in Exodus chapter 20 and on, will be put into place. And according to Deuteronomy 22, there'll be cap set on that because it could be abused. The cap will be 50 shekels so you name your price up to 50 shekels. That'll be later on in the Law.
So rape, remuneration, now we have retaliation. It gets worse. "But the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father, and spoke," notice how, hmm... the boys spoke deceitfully? "Because he had defiled Dinah their sister." Where did they learn to do deceitful things? Hmm... right? Like father, like son. The apple doesn't fall too far from the tree here. The Hivites are negotiating in good faith: open and honest negotiations. Not the sons of Jacob. They dealt, it says; spoke deceitfully because he had defiled Dinah their sister. Now Jacob is gonna reap what he has sown in terms of his deceit. "And they said to them, "We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one who is uncircumcised," I'm sure when he heard that word he thought, uh-oh. "For that would be a reproach to us."
Now again this is before the Law of Moses but circumcision was put into place in the patriarchal era even under Abraham. So Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Other cultures, by the way, practiced that especially when there was a marriage union possible. So it wasn't foreign to them but it also wasn't appealing. Verse 15: "But on this condition we will consent to you: If you will become as we are, if every male of you is circumcised, then we will give our daughters to you, and we will take your daughters to us; and we will dwell with you, and we will become one people." We'll become one. We'll be able to sing Kumbaya, swing back and forth, everything will be hunky-dory. We'll be one people. "But if you will not heed us and be circumcised, then we will take our daughter and be gone.
And their words," interesting, "their words pleased Hamor and Shechem, Hamor's son. So the young man did not delay to do the thing, because he delighted in Jacob's daughter. He was more honorable than all the household of his father. And Hamor and Shechem his son came to the gate of their city," Why the gate? Because that's where the elders of the city hang out. That's where the men who make all the decisions hang out. "And spoke with the men of their city, saying". Now these two guys have to sell this to the whole town. So put yourself in their sandals. Hey listen, um, we all gotta get circumcised. Who's gonna go for that? Some gals just ask your husband about that and it's like uh... no, not gonna happen. So they've gotta sell the idea to the men of the city so they begin with the elders.
Now watch how they sell it. "These men are at peace with us. Therefore let them dwell in the land and trade in it." Bring up the economy. "For indeed the land is large enough for them. Let us take their daughters to us as wives, and let us give them our daughters. Only on this condition will the men consent to dwell with us, to be one people: if every male among us," every male among us, "is circumcised as they are circumcised. Will not their livestock, their property, and every animal of theirs be ours? Only let us consent to them, and they will dwell with us."
Ok. Hamor and Shechem haven't been totally honest with Jacob, have they? Go back, just for a moment, to verse 10 and notice what he says to Jacob. "So you shall dwell with us, and the land shall be before you. Dwell and trade in it, and acquire possessions for yourselves in it." This would be an economic benefit for you. You will be blessed and prosper materialistically if you do this thing. But when he has to sell it to his own, he says in verse 23: "Will not their livestock, their property, and every animal of theirs be ours? Only let us consent to them, and they will dwell with us." So he has to sell it as an economic opportunity. I know this is gonna hurt but it's all about the economy. And if you do it, you'll get prospered.
Now I'm sure the elders looked at him like, I don't know about this. I don't think the guys are gonna go for this. This isn't a great idea. But they went along with it because, as suggested, the Hivites saw this as an opportunity to absorb these people, Jacob and his sons, his family, his livestock, and he was quite wealthy, into their camp and it would prosper them. They would possess their wealth. "And all who went out of the gate of his city heeded Hamor and Shechem his son; every male was circumcised, all who went out of the gate of his city."
Now some of the commentators treat this section, I noticed, see this as Jacob's sons promising or hoping that these unbelievers will be made right with God in covenant relationship by being circumcised. You go through the ritual of circumcision and you'll be made right. That's the thought, they say, in verse 16: and we will become one people. Well that's an interesting thought. I guess that's a possibility. There are people still today who say well we gotta get you baptized, boy or girl. We gotta get you to church and get you to sing those songs and read that book and if you do those things, you'll be made right with God. Keep this ritual. Do this ceremony. But if you keep a ritual but you don't live the reality of what that ritual says, it won't make any headway at all with God, will it? It won't make you one with God's people or one with God at all. Any ritual apart from reality won't make you right.
Now, speaking of young men and young women as the context shows, I know some young men who suddenly convert because they see that pretty young girl and they go up to that pretty young girl and she says oh no, I'm a Christian. I would never date, let alone marry, somebody who's not a believer. And he thinks really? Well then I just became one. Praise the Lord. Hallelujah. Thank you Jesus. You know it doesn't take long for conniving guys to get Christianese down pat--to get the lingo down. Just hang around Christians and figure out what they say. Oh I can do that! I can say that. Honey let's pray about it. Whatever it takes to win her over.
So verse 24: "And all who went out of the gate of his city heeded Hamor and Shechem his son; every male was circumcised, all who went out of" the city gate. Now here's the reality of what's happening. They didn't do it in order to supposedly convert them by a ritual, they did it to deceive them and incapacitate them. Verse 13 says the sons of Jacob answered and spoke deceitfully. In other words, if these guys get circumcised they will be incapacitated. They will not be able to be fast on their feet. They'll be in pain. They won't be able to move. It will give us the military advantage over them and we can kill them all. That's the whole idea of it. You can imagine immediately after being circumcised the first few days how painful that would be. That would incapacitate them.
Ok. Here's what is mystifying. Jacob is totally passive in this. He doesn't step up at all. He never stepped in and said, first of all Hamor, this is reprehensible. Shechem, young man, I have a few words for you. He doesn't do that at all. He's passive. He doesn't say anything. He waits till the boys come home. The boys are plotting this and getting this ready and talking to the men of the city and Jacob's just sort of sitting back and watching it all happen. Completely passive. It's a mistake to be a passive parent and not be an active parent.
Now there's no such thing, first of all, as a perfect parent, so just take that off the shelf. No such thing as a perfect parent but a passive parent will ruin a child. A parent has to stand up for what's right and what's wrong and live with conviction and pass on those values and pass on those convictions so that a child, whether he or she agrees with it or not at the time, has some moorings, something to relate back to and give them a standard of belief. Anybody who's passive toward their child and not actively engaged will ruin them. And I believe that has been part of the case here.
"Now it came to pass on the third day, when they were in pain," that is after their circumcision, "that two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah's brothers, each took his sword and came boldly upon the city and killed all the males." All the males. Not one--all the males. "And they killed Hamor and Shechem his son with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah from Shechem's house, and went out." Now you should know that Dinah and these two boys, Simeon and Levi, were sons of Jacob through the same mother, Leah, the unloved woman, the unloved wife. Rachel was the one who was loved. Leah was the older but less pretty and most unloved one.
So these two boys were full brothers and felt more of a connection, obviously, than the rest of the brothers who were half-brothers to her. They were full brothers. However, Reuben, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun were also full brothers, having Jacob and Leah as mom and dad, but they didn't act or react the same way. So why did these two, Simeon and Levi, react so violently, so aggressively? Well I don't exactly know why but perhaps, in their own rationale, and it's not right but perhaps their rationale is well Dad's not gonna do anything. He's not gonna step in and stand up for his daughter. Somebody has to defend her honor. So perhaps that was their thinking. And these two acted violently.
Now fast forward and I'll take you ahead at a sneak peek. When Jacob is on his deathbed and the twelve tribes, the twelve sons, are gathered around him, in Genesis 49, he gives a prediction. And he goes through each of the boys and calls them by name and says some things about them for them and it's prophetic. These things will happen to them. And it'll be a fascinating study but in Genesis chapter 49, you can turn to it or I'll just read it to you. There's just four verses that I'll read to you.
In verse 5 he gets to these two boys. This is Genesis 49 verse 5 through 8. He says: "Simeon and Levi are brothers; instruments of cruelty are in their dwelling place. Let not my soul enter their council; let not my honor be united to their assembly; for in their anger they slew a man," they're referring to this incident that we are now reading, "and in their self-will they hamstrung an ox. Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce; and their wrath, for it is cruel! I will divide them in Jacob and scatter them in Israel. Judah, you are he whom your brothers shall praise;" so it's like the blessing is taken off of them and given right to Judah through whom the Messiah will come, the Lion of the tribe of Judah. "Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father's children shall bow down before you." The prediction is these two would be scattered.
Now it's interesting, as Levi, for example, was scattered throughout Israel. He had no land of his own. His tribe had no land. But here's why they were scattered. You ready? They became what? The priests. They had... they didn't have their own land allotment, physical inheritance, because God said I, the Lord your God, am your inheritance. So they were scattered but they were scattered because God in His grace and mercy turned the worst tribe into the priesthood. Now that's what God does. He takes a bunch of vile, filthy sinners and turns us into a kingdom of priests, Peter said. A kingdom of priests. A royal generation. And in this royal priesthood are some ex-drug addicts, ex-alcoholics, ex-prostitutes, saved for the glory of God and made a kingdom of priests. What style, what flair, what grace God has!
So back to verse 26 of our chapter and we'll finish it out: "And they killed Hamor and Shechem his son with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah from Shechem's house and went out. The sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and plundered the city," so the two boys did the killing but I guess the rest of the boys were complicit--they plundered the town. "Because their sister had been defiled. They took their sheep, their oxen, and their donkeys, what was in the city and what was in the field," now this is gonna help you understand a law that has mystified some of you for a long time.
As time marches on and the Law of Moses gets inaugurated, there will be law put into place known as the lex talionis. The lex talionis. And the lex talionis goes like this--it's the law of retribution. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Now some people read that and they suppose, what a vengeful God He is--eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. You don't understand it. The lex talionis was put in place to limit vengeance not to enable or procure vengeance--to limit it. An eye for an eye because, you see, it's human nature as we read here that if you take out one of my eyes, I'll put out both of your eyes. You just hit me in the face and took out a tooth. I'm gonna take uppers and lowers. You'll need dentures your whole life. All of them are going. It's not to match the crime, it's to be vengeful and go above the crime. That's what we want. That's human nature.
So the eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, was to limit vengeance so that the punishment would be fitting to the crime because this tendency, as seen here in human nature. They took the sheep, the oxen, killed all the guys, took and plundered the city, verse 29: "and all their wealth. All their little ones and their wives they took captive; and they plundered even all that was in the houses. Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, "You have troubled me by making me obnoxious among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites; and since I am few in number, they will gather themselves together against me and kill me. I shall be destroyed, my household and I."
You get the picture? This guy has "I" trouble and it's not because he needs new glasses. It's all about me. What about me? What about I? They're gonna do this to me! "But they said, "Should he treat our sister like a harlot?" Jacob is an enigma to me. He never gets angry for the rape of his daughter. Now he does not rebuke Shechem, does not rebuke Hamor, but does rebuke his sons. But notice he doesn't rebuke them for the massacre. He doesn't rebuke them for abusing the rite of circumcision. He doesn't abuse them for the breach of contract. He rebukes them because what they did gave him a bad name. My reputation is soiled! Dude, you have no reputation. You have no testimony. You conniving creep! But that's what he's worried about. Not his daughter. It says nothing about his daughter. It says nothing about the murder, the massacre, the abuse of that spiritual rite of circumcision. You made me obnoxious! They're not gonna like me. My reputation has been soiled. And the name of God is not mentioned once.
Now I want to close with this. I want to be tender but I want to be up front. Parents, you think this through. If you're letting your Dinahs run around the pagan neighborhoods with all the Shechems running around through town, scoping out the chicks, don't be surprised if those girls, those young children of yours, start adopting their values and becoming like them. Like these sons are even worse than the pagans. If you put your children in pagan environments, don't be surprised if they start... I can't believe it! I can't believe you said that or thought that! Really? That's what they're around--all the time.
And it was this environment that he let them come in that was a problem. Because what will happen is you'll reach a point and you'll say to that child, you're troubling me. You're making me obnoxious by what you say or what you do or how you dress or what friends you have. But if you've allowed those Dinahs, those Daniels, those Davids, in the wrong places, doing the wrong things, at the wrong times, that you know in your heart they shouldn't be involved in, I should step in and do something or say something or counteract it, you're hurting them. Because the environments are blatantly, overtly sexual in this world. There's lots of peer pressure and if there's no pressure to counteract the pressure they have in the world, they'll collapse. The pressure has to be compensated with other pressure. Peer pressure must be compensated by parental pressure. The good kind. The active kind. The involved kind.
Interesting, I was reading about The Thresher, a nuclear submarine in 1963 that was making an attempt to go under the polar icecap toward the North Pole. It went down too deep. There was too much water pressure and the submarine imploded. The thick metal skin, hull of the submarine, imploded because the pressure was just too great. It went down too deep and the pressure was too great. And even though it was thick steel--just imploded. And yet, here's the ironic thing. There's little tiny fish that live at that same depth that don't implode and the secret is the pressure that is at that depth in the fish is counteracted by equal pressure from the inside going out. They're pressurized fish. So one pressure counteracts the other pressure.
If our children, our precious ones, don't have a good, solid environmental pressure monitored by parents, then the peer pressure on the outside will cause them to fold. I want to close by saying something about Jacob. Jacob is flawed. But you know what? Isaac was flawed. But you know what? Come to think of it, Abraham was flawed. And you know, come to think of it, who isn't flawed? All of us are flawed except God. Everyone's flawed. Everyone.
As flawed as Jacob was, please give him at least this: there was deep within his heart, underneath all of the conniving and all of the double-crossing, there was this deep seed of a desire for spiritual things. He wanted his brother's spiritual blessing. His brother could care less about it. At least he had a desire for spiritual things. He went about it the wrong way and he lied and he cheated and he connived and etcetera etcetera but he had that deep desire to serve the Lord.
And you're gonna see things pick up because this story didn't just end with the sordid tale of murder and deceit and rape. Chapter 35, it is what I will call the first revival in the Bible. Jacob gets revived and he wants his sons, his family, to get revived. He goes back to that place at Bethel. He goes back to calling on the name of the Lord. He goes back to building an altar and worshiping and tries to influence his family with that same spiritual value system as he takes leadership of the home.
So yeah he's flawed. But I'm glad the Bible tells us the truth about these heroes because I look at them and go man, there's hope. Now tonight you're in one of two camps and again, I love the simplicity of Scripture. Not one of eighteen, just one of two. You are either dominated by the Spirit or you're not. You're dominated by the Spirit or you're dominated by the flesh.
Now if you're dominated by the flesh and not the Spirit, it's for one of two reasons. Either you're an unbeliever or you're a carnal believer. If you're an unbeliever and you might be a make-believer, you might think well I'm a believer, but you're not, you're a make-believer. There's nothing true that has been a conversion of repentance toward God in your life. And you need to make your life right with God by trusting in the One that did it all for you--Jesus on the cross. Or you're a carnal believer and you've just lived according to the value systems that you grew up with and though you gave your life to Jesus and there's been this struggle between flesh and Spirit, the flesh has been winning a lot.
In fact, it's dominated you. And the reason you have no peace, no contentment, no consistency, is because the flesh is consistently dominating over the Spirit. Wouldn't you love to see that changed? It can happen. God is all about change. God isn't all about just having church services. Let's just have another church service and yet another Bible study. It's to lead somewhere. It's to lead to change. For some of us, it's incremental change. For some of us, it's radical, drastic, dramatic change. But you got to do something and cooperate with the Lord and allow Him to change you. Receive the gift of forgiveness and everlasting life and come into relationship with Him.