Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Genesis 34:13-24 A Deceitful Proposal

"Because their sister Dinah had been defiled, Jacob's sons replied deceitfully as they spoke to Shechem and his father Hamor.  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.  We will give our consent to you on one condition only:  that you become like us by circumcising all your males.  Then we will give you our daughters and take your daughters for ourselves.  We'll settle among you and become one people with you.  But if you will not agree to be circumcised, we'll take our sister and go.' " (Genesis 34:13-17 NIV)

Jacob's sons are exhibiting the same type of deceitfulness that Jacob had previously been known for.  It was true that they were not supposed to intermarry with those who had not been circumcised.  However, there were probably various other people groups who practiced circumcision who were not followers of God.  The real issue was that these Hivites were not worshiping the true God and thus presented a real danger to the continuance of the Israelites.  Unless the Hivites became true followers of God, mere outward circumcision would not prevent the Canaanite culture from infiltrating into the lives of the members of  Jacob's household.  The Israelites would become assimilated into the Canaanite culture and their witness for God would disappear.  Promising to intermarry and also settle among the Hivites was an outright lie.  It is also remarkable that the sons of Jacob made such a bold demand.  After all, they were probably vastly outnumbered, for Shechem was a major city and, if Hamor called for it, the men of that place would be able to fight the Israelites and keep Dinah anyway.  I suppose that the brothers were counting upon the fact that Shechem was quite smitten by Dinah, and would do anything to obtain her, and to keep peaceful relations between them.

The brothers' proposal "...seemed good to Hamor and his son Shechem.  The young man, who was the most honored of all his father's household, lost no time in doing what they said, because he was delighted with Jacob's daughter.  So Hamor and his son Shechem went to the gate of their city to speak with their fellow townsmen." (Genesis 34:18-20 NIV)

" '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.  But the men will consent to live with us as one people only on the condition that our males be circumcised, as they themselves are.  Won't their livestock, their property and all their other animals become ours?  So let us give our consent to them, and they will settle among us.'  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." (Genesis 34:21-24 NIV)

It seems that greed influenced the Shechemites just as powerfully as Shechem's desire to have Dinah.  They seem to think that all of the Israelites' wealth will soon become theirs.  This raises the question:  do they intend to bring harm upon the Israelites in the future and obtain their wealth as well as their sister?  It would appear to be so, for otherwise, how would the Israelites' material goods become theirs?  More on this in the next post. 

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