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Genesis: Chapter 34

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1Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the women of the region. 2When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the region, saw her, he seized her and lay with her by force. 3And his soul was drawn to Dinah daughter of Jacob; he loved the girl, and spoke tenderly to her. 4So Shechem spoke to his father Hamor, saying, “Get me this girl to be my wife.”

5Now Jacob heard that Shechem b Heb he had defiled his daughter Dinah; but his sons were with his cattle in the field, so Jacob held his peace until they came. 6And Hamor the father of Shechem went out to Jacob to speak with him, 7just as the sons of Jacob came in from the field. When they heard of it, the men were indignant and very angry, because he had committed an outrage in Israel by lying with Jacob's daughter, for such a thing ought not to be done.

8But Hamor spoke with them, saying, “The heart of my son Shechem longs for your daughter; please give her to him in marriage. 9Make marriages with us; give your daughters to us, and take our daughters for yourselves. 10You shall live with us; and the land shall be open to you; live and trade in it, and get property in it.” 11Shechem also said to her father and to her brothers, “Let me find favor with you, and whatever you say to me I will give. 12Put the marriage present and gift as high as you like, and I will give whatever you ask me; only give me the girl to be my wife.”

13The sons of Jacob answered Shechem and his father Hamor deceitfully, because he had defiled their sister Dinah. 14They said to them, “We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one who is uncircumcised, for that would be a disgrace to us. 15Only on this condition will we consent to you: that you will become as we are and every male among you be circumcised. 16Then we will give our daughters to you, and we will take your daughters for ourselves, and we will live among you and become one people. 17But if you will not listen to us and be circumcised, then we will take our daughter and be gone.”

18Their words pleased Hamor and Hamor's son Shechem. 19And the young man did not delay to do the thing, because he was delighted with Jacob's daughter. Now he was the most honored of all his family. 20So Hamor and his son Shechem came to the gate of their city and spoke to the men of their city, saying, 21“These people are friendly with us; let them live in the land and trade in it, for the land is large enough for them; let us take their daughters in marriage, and let us give them our daughters. 22Only on this condition will they agree to live among us, to become one people: that every male among us be circumcised as they are circumcised. 23Will not their livestock, their property, and all their animals be ours? Only let us agree with them, and they will live among us.” 24And all who went out of the city gate heeded Hamor and his son Shechem; and every male was circumcised, all who went out of the gate of his city.

25On the third day, when they were still in pain, two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah's brothers, took their swords and came against the city unawares, and killed all the males. 26They killed Hamor and his son Shechem with the sword, and took Dinah out of Shechem's house, and went away. 27And the other sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and plundered the city, because their sister had been defiled. 28They took their flocks and their herds, their donkeys, and whatever was in the city and in the field. 29All their wealth, all their little ones and their wives, all that was in the houses, they captured and made their prey. 30Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought trouble on me by making me odious to the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites and the Perizzites; my numbers are few, and if they gather themselves against me and attack me, I shall be destroyed, both I and my household.” 31But they said, “Should our sister be treated like a whore?”

Notes:

b Heb he

Text Commentary view alone

33.1–17 : Partial reunion with Esau.

10 :

Like seeing the face of God, who at Penuel (or Peniel) also proved to be gracious ( 32.30–31 ).

12–17 :

Esau proposes to stay with Jacob, but Jacob sends him ahead, promising to join with him (v. 14 ). Jacob does not join him, however (v. 17 ), perhaps noting that Esau had always planned to wait to kill him until their father died ( 27.41; cf. 35.29 ).

17 :

Succoth means “booths.” Its precise location is uncertain.

33.18–35.5 : The stay in Shechem and the rape of Dinah.

33.18 :

Shechem, see 12.6–8n.

19 :

Here and in the following chapter Shechem is a personal name. As elsewhere in Genesis, the story portrays, in the guise of individuals, relations between Israel and non‐Israelite groups.

20 :

The name of the altar (“El is the God of Israel”) may be another reflection of the worship of El in early Israel (see 28.16–17n.; 32.28,31–32n. ).

34.1–31 :

See 49.1–28n.

2 :

See 33.19n. Lay with her by force, raped her.

7 :

Committed an outrage in Israel is an old expression for ultimate offenses, such as violations of the sexual honor of the tribal group (here), the ban on booty in holy war (Josh 7.15 ), and the sanctity of hospitality (Judg 19.23–24; 20.6,10 ).

8–12 :

Israelite law stipulates that a man who has sex with an unbetrothed woman must retroactively marry her by paying her father a high marriage price (Ex 22.16–17; Deut 22.28–29 ). This narrative seems to assume that this law does not apply outside the people of Israel.

13–17 :

Jacob's sons now are the tricksters (see 27.1–45n. ). On circumcision see 17.9–14n.

21–23 :

In contrast to Hamor's proposal to the Israelites of intermarriage and acquisition of land (vv. 8–10 ), his speech to his countrymen here betrays an interest in impoverishing the Israelites through assimilating them. On concern about intermarriage, see 24.3n.

25–26 :

Simeon and Levi lead the killing and recapture of Dinah because, as older full brothers of Dinah ( 29.33–34; 30.21 ), they were responsible for avenging the violation of the family's honor through her.

27–29 :

In a reversal of what the Shechemites had planned for them (vv. 21–23 ), the Israelites take all the Shechemites’ possessions.

30–31 :

Jacob is depicted here as less concerned about family honor than about good relations with the Canaanites (see 35.5 ). His sons’ question is left unanswered at the end of the story (cf. Jon 4.11 ), but is ultimately addressed in 49.5–7 .

35.1–4 :

The present narrative reflects a negative judgment on non‐Yahwistic cult objects that developed later in Israel. It and its parallels (Josh 24.23; Judg 10.16; 1 Sam 7.3 ) may presuppose, however, a more ancient practice of burial of divine images in sacred places, i.e., by a sacred tree (see 12.6–8n. ).

5 :

Jacob's fears (see 34.30 ) prove to be unfounded.

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