Monday, March 01, 2010

The Plan Collapses Into Utter Ruin Genesis 34:25-29

Now it came about on the third day, when they were in pain, that two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, each took his sword and came upon the city unawares, and killed every male. And they killed Hamor and his son Shechem with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah from Shechem’s house, and went forth. Jacob’s sons came upon the slain and looted the city, because they had defiled their sister. They took their flocks and their herds an their donkeys, and that which was in the city and that which was in the field; and they captured and looted all their wealth and all their little ones and their wives, even all that was in the houses.

Talk about an unfair massacre, this one would rank right up there. Soon after all these adults got circumcised, when their pain was at its height, along come Dinah’s two brothers, Simeon and Levi, and kill every male. There was no chance to offer more in exchange for their lives, no opportunity to beg for mercy.

We note that Jacob’s other sons were not identified here as having taken part in this mass murder. It was, according to the commentator Robert Jamieson, the “full brothers, on whom the protection of the daughters devolves--they are the guardians of a sister's welfare and the avengers of her wrongs.” He goes on to suggest that it is possible “the two fathers would have probably brought about an amicable arrangement of the affair.”

It appears that Dinah went to live with Shechem after he and his father had met with Jacob and his sons. This must have been part of the arrangement. Whether or not Dinah knew of what Simeon and Levi had been planning, we do not know. She may have been an accomplice from the inside or she too may have been taken by surprise as to what ensued. What is interesting though is that the brothers were prepared to leave Dinah with those that had done this awful thing to Israel (raping Dinah) long enough to accomplish their scheme against the Shechemites. It makes one wonder what the true motivation was.

The second part of this text indicates “Jacob’s sons came upon the slain”. Given the sentence structure, since Simeon and Levi had done the actual slaying, this likely refers to the rest of Jacob’s sons. Being only half-brothers, they felt they could avenge their half-sister’s defiling by only looting, rather than killing. And loot they did, taking everything in sight, including the Shechemites’ children and wives. All the wealth that belonged to the Shechemites was now uncontested in the hands of Jacob’s family. It seems Jacob continues, one way or another, to have his good fortune increase.

One of the amazing things about the Bible is that it certainly was not written from a political point of view. The descendents of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob pulled no punches and made no effort to remove from its pages any accounts that depicted their forefathers in a bad light. In fact, it is including those dark and stark truths about the history of the chosen people that validates its God-given inspiration, for men do not speak so negatively about their own doings.

What had seemed like a great arrangement, and a deal the Shechemites could not refuse, ended up in total disaster and ruin for them. Greed is never a sound basis on which to enter any transaction, let alone one that is as foolish as this one. But the Shechemites were not the only losers in this whole episode. Jacob had lost much as well.

You will remember that in Genesis 31:13 God instructed Jacob to return to his home in the region of Bethel. Instead Jacob went to reside near Shechem. And there, his family suffered the dishonor that they did. It seems that when we do not follow God’s instructions, we stand the risk of consequences. When we alone choose where we go, we seldom do as good a job as God. And as we see in Jacob’s case, choosing the wrong place can expose us and our family to things that God would rather have had us avoid. Jacob also left his young daughter Dinah without proper supervision as she headed towards the ungodly town of Shechem to check it out. So ungodly were these men that, once Shechem raped Dinah, it never occurred to him or his father to say ‘sorry’. Instead, they wanted her to be given to Shechem as just another one of his wives.

As parents we need to learn what are the important aspects of our children’s lives that we need to keep our eyes on. Certainly venturing into the big city for the first time may well be one of those aspects. What may appear like a great adventure in life’s journey can often end up in an incredible setback if the station stop was not part of God’s planned itinerary for us or our children.

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