Monday, January 25, 2010

Shechem Wants Dinah As A Wife -- Genesis 34:3-4

And he was deeply attracted to Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the girl and spoke tenderly to her. So Shechem spoke to his father Hamor, saying, “Get me this young girl for a wife.”

From the verses preceding these two, we know that prince Shechem was either totally driven by his sexual desires or was instantly attracted to Dinah, or both. These verses seem to add the fact that Shechem was ‘deeply’ attracted to her. What exactly that means after one rapes a person, I am not totally sure. But somehow, I would question again the concept of sex, then love rather than the other way around. Certainly, this is an approach to marriage in great contrast to what we know of both Issac and Jacob’s experiences.

Perhaps there is some small redeeming fact for, although we should in no way condone his actions, a person who after raping someone can indeed believe he is really in love with them and speaks tenderly to her. Sometimes, the very wrong man can seem so very right, at least for the time being. This also brings to mind circumstances where men (or women) physically or mentally abuse their spouse or partner and then become all lovey-dovey apologizing for their earlier actions, promising never to repeat them again, until the next time. Indication number one that this relationship might not work.

Nevertheless, Shechem himself does believe he loves Dinah and certainly wants her for a wife. So he follows all the right channels and decides to use his father’s influence in getting her. Now I do not want to make a lot of the grammar here, but the text does say ‘for a wife’ and based on what is known of cultures in those days, we can assume Shechem had other wives already or if Dinah was the first, certainly she was not necessarily to be the last. Indication number two that this relationship might not work.

Finally, let me point out that Shechem did not ask his father to help him ask Dinah’s family for her hand, and to see if she was willing. No, indeed he asked for his help to “get her” for him. A very demanding son who expects to get whatever he wants without regard to the wishes and best interests of those involved. Indication number three that this relationship might not work.

In all three signals, personal selfishness was at play. The writing was on the wall as to what kind of husband and father this man would be.

Clearly, in all relationships prior to marriage there are indicators that can predict the success or failure of the intending union. Those of us involved in them have a tendency to only see and put forth the ‘rosy indicators’ and fail to even notice the ‘blue ones’. And that’s where family and friends, as well as the Word of God, come into the picture. May we all be aware of the signs in our relationships and may we all do our part, by being honest, to help others see the ‘blue’ signs in their relationships.

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