Genesis 34:11-31: A strange matchmaker.

“11 Then Shechem said to Dinah’s father and brothers, “Let me find favor in your eyes, and I will give you whatever you ask. 12 Make the price for the bride and the gift I am to bring as great as you like, and I’ll pay whatever you ask me. Only give me the young woman as my wife.” 13 Because their sister Dinah had been defiled, Jacob’s sons replied deceitfully as they spoke to Shechem and his father Hamor. 14 They said to them, “We can’t do such a thing; we can’t give our sister to a man who is not circumcised. That would be a disgrace to us. 15 We will enter into an agreement with you on one conditiononly: that you become like us by circumcising all your males. 16 Then we will give you our daughters and take your daughters for ourselves. We’ll settle among you and become one people with you. 17 But if you will not agree to be circumcised, we’ll take our sister and go.” 18 Their proposal seemed good to Hamor and his son Shechem. 19 The young man, who was the most honored of all his father’s family, lost no time in doing what they said, because he was delighted with Jacob’s daughter. 20 So Hamor and his son Shechem went to the gate of their city to speak to the men of their city.21 “These men are friendly toward us,” they said. “Let them live in our land and trade in it; the land has plenty of room for them. We can marry their daughters and they can marry ours. 22 But the men will agree to live with us as one people only on the condition that our males be circumcised, as they themselves are. 23 Won’t their livestock, their property and all their other animals become ours? So let us agree to their terms, and they will settle among us.” 24 All the men who went out of the city gate agreed with Hamor and his son Shechem, and every male in the city was circumcised. 25 Three days later, while all of them were still in pain, two of Jacob’s sons, Simeonand Levi, Dinah’s brothers, took their swords and attacked the unsuspecting city,killing every male. 26 They put Hamor and his son Shechem to the sword and took Dinah from Shechem’s house and left. 27 The sons of Jacob came upon the dead bodies and looted the city where[a] their sister had been defiled. 28 They seized their flocks and herds and donkeys and everything else of theirs in the city and out in the fields. 29 They carried off all their wealth and all their women and children,taking as plunder everything in the houses. 30 Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought trouble on me by making me obnoxious to the Canaanites and Perizzites, the people living in this land. We are few in number, and if they join forces against me and attack me, I and my household will be destroyed.” 31 But they replied, “Should he have treated our sister like a prostitute?” NIV

The Bible commentator, Matthew Henry, observed that covetousness is ‘the greatest matchmaker in the world.’ In the case of Hamor and his sons, greed was their undoing (23).  It’s been said that ‘revenge is a dish best served cold.’ The Bible has a totally different angle:

‘’Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘’It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’’ says the Lord. On the contrary:

 ‘’If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this you will heap burning coals on his head.’’

 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good’’ (Romans 12: 17-21).

Viewed in this light, the response of Jacob’s sons was wrong (13). It’s also important to note that the Israelites were never intended to become ‘’one people’’ (17) with the surrounding nations, and circumcision would not have made the Canaanites true Israelites. But I believe the inference is that this was never the intention anyway. They were leading their neighbours into a trap.

It seems that Jacob’s main concern was safety (30, 31). However, note his death bed words recorded in Genesis 39:5-7. He knew the action of these boys was wrong. It could not be justified.

But if Jacob had not moved there in the first place would any of this have happened?

Prayer: Lord, I see that so much turns on our decisions. I pray that all my choices will be guided by you.