Genesis Chapter Thirty-Four


Read Genesis 34:1-5 – Dinah, Jacob’s Daughter


v.1  And Dinah the daughter of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land.”


            As we remember our study of Genesis, chapter 30, Jacob has at least one daughter, Dinah, born to Leah.  We don’t know what span of time was required for the events recorded here to occur but we do know this:




This is a classic example of the meaning of that verse.  If we spend time with the wrong kind of people, sooner or later their influence will begin to erode our commitment to high moral standards.  We might note that Dinah’s indiscretion didn’t begin with her companionship with the young men of that region but rather with the daughters of the land.


v.2  And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her.”


            As has been true since the beginning of time, men and women, when tempted can be led into trouble.  Esau was rejected by God as the bearer of the seed of God’s promise because of his unrighteousness.  Part of his departure from the path of his father was to marry Hittite women (Genesis 26:34), now the daughter of Jacob gets herself involved with the same Hittite or Hivite people that her uncle did.


v.3-4And his soul clave unto Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the damsel, and spake kindly unto the damsel. 4And Shechem spake unto his father Hamor, saying, Get me this damsel to wife.”


            We do have record here that Shechem wanted to do what most folks in our generation would consider necessary to “make things right.”  He wants to marry Dinah just as Samson did his Philistine wife:


Judges 14:2And he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife.”


Marriage as the remedy for this kind of sin was also included in the covenant made between Israel and God, with the added stipulation that the marriage would be permanent, could not be broken.


Deuteronomy 22:28-29If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; 29Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.”


v.5And Jacob heard that he had defiled Dinah his daughter: now his sons were with his cattle in the field: and Jacob held his peace until they were come.”

            When Jacob hears what has happened to his daughter, he holds his peace until his sons can be brought in or come in from their work tending his flocks and herds.


Read Genesis 34:5-19 – Jacob and Hamor Negotiate


v.6  And Hamor the father of Shechem went out unto Jacob to commune with him.”


            As is frequently the case when trouble arises between families; the fathers are placed in a position of trying to resolve the problems.  This is no different.  It does appear that Hamor, though not a man of God, is perhaps an honorable man as he comes to Jacob.


v.7And the sons of Jacob came out of the field when they heard it: and the men were grieved, and they were very wroth, because he had wrought folly in Israel in lying with Jacob’s daughter; which thing ought not to be done.”


            The sons of Jacob are very angry men when they learn what has happened.  In view of the happenings that follow, we wonder if their anger was motivated by their compassion for their sister, who have gotten herself caught up in sin or due to the mark made against the honor of their family name.  That this thing “OUGHT NOT TO BE DONE” is understood by all involved and we find here the same language used as is used to describe the sin of Achan:


Joshua 7:15And it shall be, that he that is taken with the accursed thing shall be burnt with fire, he and all that he hath: because he hath transgressed the covenant of the LORD, and because he hath wrought folly in Israel.”


v.8-10And Hamor communed with them, saying, The soul of my son Shechem longeth for your daughter: I pray you give her him to wife. 9And make ye marriages with us, and give your daughters unto us, and take our daughters unto you. 10And ye shall dwell with us: and the land shall be before you; dwell and trade ye therein, and get you possessions therein.”


            Hamor is proposing more than just a marriage between Dinah and Shechem; he is proposing an alliance between the family of Israel and the Hittite people.  He is presenting the same kind of temptation that led Lot to Sodom. 


Genesis 13:10And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar.”


They would become much the same as those who dwelt in Egypt before their enslavement:


Genesis 47:27And Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt, in the country of Goshen; and they had possessions therein, and grew, and multiplied exceedingly.”


v.11-12And Shechem said unto her father and unto her brethren, Let me find grace in your eyes, and what ye shall say unto me I will give. 12Ask me never so much dowry and gift, and I will give according as ye shall say unto me: but give me the damsel to wife.”


            In reading this account it would seem that Shechem is in love with Dinah.  It would be unexpected, at least in my mind; that an offer of virtually an unlimited dowry and the seeking of peace and harmony between these families would be made just for political or social reasons.  In the Mosaic Law this kind of action was made a requirement, giving responsibility also to the girl’s father:


Exodus 22:16-17And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife. 17If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins.”


v.13And the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father deceitfully, and said, because he had defiled Dinah their sister:”


            Two things we need to consider about this verse.  First of all it would appear that Jacob has abdicated his responsibility as the father of the family and patriarch of God to his sons.  We have already seen that Jacob was a mild mannered man:


Genesis 25:27And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents.”


And now, when an answer to Hamor and Shechem is required; it is his sons that speak.  We have no record here of Jacob’s involvement at all.

            Secondly we’re told by the Holy Spirit through Moses, the writer, that their proposal is deceitful.  Their purpose is to deceive.  They have no interest in any relationship with Hamor or his family.  All they are interested in is to gain an unfair advantage over them in order to get their revenge.


v.14And they said unto them, We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one that is uncircumcised; for that were a reproach unto us:”


            Abraham, his descendants and all of their servants were to bear the mark given by God:


Genesis 17:23And Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all that were born in his house, and all that were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house; and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the selfsame day, as God had said unto him.”


His descendants had lived in compliance with this requirement and now they use it to their advantage.


v.15-17But in this will we consent unto you: If ye will be as we be, that every male of you be circumcised; 16Then will we give our daughters unto you, and we will take your daughters to us, and we will dwell with you, and we will become one people. 17But if ye will not hearken unto us, to be circumcised; then will we take our daughter, and we will be gone.”


            Jacob’s sons tell Shechem and Hamor, become circumcised as we are and we will then enter into this covenant.  We will allow our daughters to marry your sons and our sons to marry your daughters; we will become as one people.  If you don’t agree to this then we will take Dinah and will be gone from this region.


v.18-19And their words pleased Hamor, and Shechem Hamor’s son. 19And the young man deferred not to do the thing, because he had delight in Jacob’s daughter: and he was more honourable than all the house of his father.”


            Shechem loved Dinah, Jacob’s daughter and was an honorable man, or at least more honorable than the rest of the people of the Hivites so he agrees to their covenant proposal.


Read Genesis 34:20-31 – The Hittite City Destroyed


v.20-21And Hamor and Shechem his son came unto the gate of their city, and communed with the men of their city, saying, 21These men are peaceable with us; therefore let them dwell in the land, and trade therein; for the land, behold, it is large enough for them; let us take their daughters to us for wives, and let us give them our daughters.


            The deception the sons of Israel begin to bear fruit.  Hamor and Shechem go back to their city and report to the inhabitants that all is well.  Peace has been maintained with Israel.  The land area that they control is large enough and plentiful enough to support both peoples.  Through trade and business they will be able to gain prosperity from the alliance, the usual purpose of political alliances, even today.  Inter-marriage between them and Israel will be allowed and they will live together as one people.  Then they tell the men about the conditions attached:


v.22  Only herein will the men consent unto us for to dwell with us, to be one people, if every male among us be circumcised, as they are circumcised.”


            The only way that the sons of Israel will agree to this covenant between them is for the Hittites to become circumcised like the descendants of Abraham.


v.23Shall not their cattle and their substance and every beast of theirs be ours? only let us consent unto them, and they will dwell with us.”


            There appears to be somewhat of an ulterior motive on the part of Hamor and his people to make this agreement with Israel.  Probably because of their lesser numbers, it wouldn’t take long for the Hittites to assimilate the Israelites into their society and culture and then all of their wealth of flocks and herds will belong to them.


v.24And unto Hamor and unto Shechem his son hearkened all that went out of the gate of his city; and every male was circumcised, all that went out of the gate of his city.


            Whether based on greed, loyalty to their king, or for other reasons of their own; the men of Shechem agree to be circumcised.  The deception planned by Jacob’s sons has served it’s purpose.


v.25-26And it came to pass on the third day, when they were sore, that two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brethren, took each man his sword, and came upon the city boldly, and slew all the males. 26And they slew Hamor and Shechem his son with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah out of Shechem’s house, and went out.”


            They waited three days, just long enough for the effects of the circumcision to work in their favor, then they struck.  We have Simeon and Levi named specifically, as they were two of Leah’s sons, brothers to Dinah, not half brothers.  The KJV says they came to the city “BOLDLY”, other translations say that they came to the city “UNAWARES” and killed all of the adult males in the city, including Hamor and Shechem.  Then they took Dinah and left the city


v.27The sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and spoiled the city, because they had defiled their sister.”


            Then apparently the rest of the family joined in the carnage.  The entire city pays for Dinah’s indiscretion.


v.28-29They took their sheep, and their oxen, and their asses, and that which was in the city, and that which was in the field, 29And all their wealth, and all their little ones, and their wives took they captive, and spoiled even all that was in the house.”


            The sons of Jacob literally strip the city of all of its wealth and take all of the women and children captive.  They don’t take just what was in the city but also what was in the fields where the food was grown, and all of the herds that grazed in the fields and provided the livelihood of these people.


v.30And Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, Ye have troubled me to make me to stink among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites: and I being few in number, they shall gather themselves together against me, and slay me; and I shall be destroyed, I and my house.”


            Now that everything is all over we hear from Jacob again.  It appears that he is angry about what has happened.  But we have no record that he did anything to try to stop his sons from making their agreement with Hamor, nor is there any record that he did anything or even counseled against what his sons did to this, their city.  He upbraids them, but appears to be motivated by fear rather than outrage against the actions of his sons.  His reputation with the other Canaanite tribes has been destroyed.  Now he fears that they will form a confederation and rise up against him.


v.31And they said, Should he deal with our sister as with an harlot?”


            Jacob’s sons are defiant.  Their response to their father was to ask him a question?  Should we have allowed Shechem to treat our sister as a harlot?  Every indication given to us by scripture says that Shechem loved Dinah and wanted her as a wife and had not treated her as a harlot or prostitute at all.  The sons of Israel have to justify their revenge so that, in their minds at least, they have done what is just and right.