Design By Humans

Genesis 34. The Wages of Sex.

Genesis 34.

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

    Alright then, I'm guessing she's at least a teenager by now.

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.

    Are we talking rape here or consensual congress?

3 And his soul clave unto Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the damsel, and spake kindly unto the damsel.

    Well... He seems to have treated her nicely, of course this doesn't preclude the possibility of rape but does suggest that he at least attempted to be persuasive. This might very well have been consentual sex.

4 And Shechem spake unto his father Hamor, saying, Get me this damsel to wife.

    Having satisfied his lust, Shechem desires to marry Dinah it says nothing of Dinah's desire but given how male-oriented the text has been so far I wouldn't expect it to.

5 And 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.

    How very grown up of him. I wonder if this whole situation can be resolved peaceably.

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

    A diplomatic move. perhaps they can negotiate a wedding for Dinah and Shechem.

7 And 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.

    Are Israel and Jacob different persons? I thought Israel was the name given to Jacob, does Israel instead refer to the whole family now? Anyway, the whole of the male contingent of Jacob's family (Israel) are exceedingly annoyed that Shechem had sex with Dinah. Is it that they were unmarried that was the problem or was it that Shichem is from the wrong kind of tribe? It would seem obvious that it was the unmarried aspect that has caused the problem until you think about what, so far, has constituted a marriage. All barring two marriages so far in this book have been simultaneous with the act of a man 'taking' a woman, by this standard Dinah is already Shechem's wife as they became married when he 'lay' with her. The only two marriages that haven't conformed to this standard are the two marriages between Jacob and the daughters of Laban. These marriages had a party and were paid for by years of labour, these are not the kind of marriages practiced by Jacob's forebears and must have come from whichever tradition Laban followed. Is it then that Jacob is annoyed that Shechem got the pleasures of a wife for free while Jacob had to work for it? Why has the standard of marriage changed?

8 And Hamor communed with them, saying, The soul of my son Shechem longeth for your daughter: I pray you give her him to wife.
    As we've seen before, a woman is considered her fathers property until she is married so Hamor quite rightly petitions Jacob for Dinah's hand on be half of his son.

9 And make ye marriages with us, and give your daughters unto us, and take our daughters unto you.

    Hamor further proposes that the two groups ought to intermarry in the long term, this seems quite reasonable and promoting of harmony however knowing the history of Jacob's family attitude toward racial purity I can't see him being pleased by this proposition.

10 And ye shall dwell with us: and the land shall be before you; dwell and trade ye therein, and get you possessions therein.

    This all seems a very pragmatic and peace-promoting idea.

11 And 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.

    He even offers payment to sweeten the deal.

12 Ask 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.

    "Ask me for anything" he says, "and I'll give it to you, just let my son marry Dinah.".

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

    Hmm. Rather than voicing their displeasure that Shechem has already slept with Dinah the sons of Jacob decide that deception is the right course of action. I find this comes as no surprise given the rich tradition of lying, cheating and general swindling that their family has practiced for generations.

14 And 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:

    The deception begins...

15 But in this will we consent unto you: If ye will be as we be, that every male of you be circumcised; the sons of Jacob trying to convince the Hivites that the deal is on if they go and circumcise themselves. I wonder where this is leading.

16 Then 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.

    So if they circumcise themselves they can all be one big happy family.

17 But if ye will not hearken unto us, to be circumcised; then will we take our daughter, and we will be gone.

    OK. Let's see how this plays out.

18 And their words pleased Hamor, and Shechem Hamor's son.

    As it was designed to. I mean, what price is a foreskin for lasting peace (and some hot Israelite wives)?

19 And 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.

    Just try keeping Shechem from the circumcision knife! That boy wants it bad.

20 And Hamor and Shechem his son came unto the gate of their city, and communed with the men of their city, saying,

    I wonder how the men of the city will take the news.

21 These 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 first part of the bargain seems reasonable...

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.

    ...and there's comes the other part. Will they go for it?

23 Shall 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.

    Well no objection so far.

24 And 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.

    They went for it, All of the men got circumcised. So the first part of the deception is complete, what do the sons of Jacob plan to do next?

25 And 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.

    Right. great and cunning plan that, wait until all the men of the city are incapacitated by painful plonkers and murder every last one of them. What exactly was the crime of these townsmen that they deserved such retribution?

26 And 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 kill Shechem and Hamor too. Worth noting at this point that they had to take Dinah out of Shechem's house, it doesn't say that she was held prisoner. I am inclined to think that Shechem and Dinah were actually in love and that the sex between them was consensual. What exactly was Shechems crime?

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

    The whole city defiled her? I think this may be a case of an over active imagination on their parts. Do they really think that Dinah has lain with the the entire city? They don't hold their sister in very high regard.

28 They took their sheep, and their oxen, and their asses, and that which was in the city, and that which was in the field,

    Was this the real motive? Looting the city?

29 And all their wealth, and all their little ones, and their wives took they captive, and spoiled even all that was in the house.

    And expanding their number by taking all of the women and children too?

30 And 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.

    Jacob is annoyed with his sons for taking the retribution too far, is there some good in this man after all? No! His objection to the retributive actions of his sons is not that it is morally wrong but that he is afraid the surrounding tribes will kill him over it.

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

    Nice Justification boys. Nice justification.

So a lot of death there. What can we gather from it.

  • It is no longer enough to simply 'take' a woman for a wife. This seems to have changed at the point Jacob was married to the daughters of Laban. There is no reason given in the narrative for this change. The upshot of this is that it is now possible to have pre-marital sex which as soon as it was invented has become taboo.
  • Simeon and Levi think that a fair punishment for the crime of having pre-marital sex is to slay all of the males in the city that the male of the pairing comes from and then take for themselves all of the property, Women and children of the city.
  • Jacob does take issue with Simeon and Levi's actions but his stated reason is not the inherent dis-proportionality of their reaction, nor a disapproval of the killing of the innocent. No. Jacob's issue is that he might suffer reprisals from the neighbouring tribes.

I wonder if there will be more unwarranted murder in Genesis 35.

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