8 But Hamor said to them, ‘My son Shechem has his heart set on your daughter. Please give her to him as his wife. 9 Intermarry with us; give us your daughters and take our daughters for yourselves. 10 You can settle among us; the land is open to you. Live in it, trade in it, and acquire property in it.’11 Then Shechem said to Dinah’s father and brothers, ‘Let me find favour 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 condition only: 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 honoured 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 towards 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, Simeon and 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 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
‘’You have brought trouble on me by making me a stench to the Canaanites and Perizzites, the people living in this land’’ (30).
‘The Shechemites submitted to the sacred rite, only to serve a turn, to please their prince, and to enrich themselves, and it was just with God to bring punishment upon them. As nothing secures us better than true religion, so nothing exposes us more than religion only pretended to. But Simeon and Levi were most unrighteous. Those who act wickedly, under the pretext of religion, are the worst enemies of the truth, and harden the hearts of many to destruction. The crimes of others form no excuse for us. Alas! how one sin leads on to another, and, like flames of fire, spread desolation in every direction.’ Matthew Henry.
Sadly, it seems Simeon and Levi had learned much from watching their often deceitful dad.(There was a double-deception being attempted by the way. Hamor was attempting to trick Jacob and his sons too. But that’s another story).
Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 10:3,4a:
‘’For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.’’
Sadly, this was not true of Simeon and Levi, and even on his death bed, Jacob still had the bitter memories of what these boys had done (Genesis 49:5-7). As Tom Hale points out, children cannot blame their parents for their own sins. Jacob surely had some responsibility for the way his children turned out, but on their father’s death-bed, Simeon and Levi were faced with their personal responsibility for what they’d done.
Christians are meant to smell of Jesus – to carry the ‘’aroma’’, the fragrance of Christ into the world (2 Corinthians 2:15,16). Someone has spoken of ‘our unconscious influence, impregnated with the fragrance of Christ.’ It is sad, even tragic, if by our worldly ways we tarnish our witness and leave only a nasty ‘’stench’’ behind. We are called to higher things and better ways in Christ.
PRAYER: Teach us Lord to live honourably in this world, not resorting to deceit or trickery. Help us to live in a straightforward way so that we gain a good reputation, and by so doing glorify your Name. May our witness be sound.