Saturday, February 20, 2010

The ‘Proposal’ is Accepted and Shechem Leads The Way -- Genesis 34:18-19


Now their words seemed reasonable to Hamor and Shechem, Hamor’s son. And the young man did not delay to do the thing, because he was delighted with Jacob’s daughter. Now he was more respected than all the household of his father.

In verse 17 of this chapter, Jacob’s sons and Dinah’s brothers net out the deal for Hamor and Shechem. The very next verse simply says that they (Hamor and Shechem) thought the terms (that each of their males had to first be circumcised before the Israelites would give Dinah to Shechem as wife after he had raped her), were reasonable. Shechem’s passion for Dinah as well as Hamor’s greed for the trade and business the potential integration of the Israelites with his own people would bring, made this an easy decision for them.
Shechem was so eager to close the deal and get Dinah, he willing set the example and became the first one to be circumcised as quickly as possible. Again, driven by his desire for Jacob’s daughter. By being the first and leading the way in this action that no doubt resulted in great physical pain, Shechem gained even more respect than anyone in his father’s household. The question is “respect from whom?” Did all the others in the household respect him ‘more’ or was it just Hamor that did the respecting? In the meantime, Dinah’s brothers delighted in what was happening and we’ll soon know why.
I was recently made aware of a quote by Ian Parker, writing in the New Yorker magazine, that went like this, “A country overwhelmed by evil has more dignity than one tripped up by fools.” Parker was writing about the economic woes of countries, totally unrelated to our topic here. However, the moral behind his words are, I believe, applicable. The Shechemites as a people were about to be tripped up by the follies of two of their own fools, Hamor and Shechem. No dignity awaited them.

I think back on my repeated observations of people, including Christians, acting alone or in concert with others, who blindly follow those that lead them into personal, family, or financial ruin and sometimes to their death. I am sure they are not alone in this, for we too have all been victims to one extent or another in this manner. They blindly follow “fools” that have been tricked into believing or pursuing something that is not expedient, and in so doing, become fools themselves. There is no dignity awaiting them. And scripture, beginning with this episode in the life of Jacob and continuing through the old and new testaments, often warns us against such folly. May we, as we seek God’s grace and wisdom, be wary of what we hear and what we buy into that is indeed foolishness.

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