JACOB AND THE SHECHEMITES
I. Shechem and Dinah: (vss. 1-4)
A. The Setting. (Note. There are several different aspects to the incident recorded in this chapter, even as there are several individuals involved. Above all, we must view the entire history here as part of the Lord’s dealings with Jacob, the heir of the covenant, at this time. And the main questions as to why the Lord dealt thus with Jacob, and what there was in Jacob’s life and way that occasioned these dealings of the Lord with him, –these questions must be kept in mind throughout your discussion of this passage.)
1. Review the last part of chapter 33:
a. What did Jacob do at Shechem? Vs. 19. Of what is this an indication? Did Jacob intend merely to sojourn there a while and then pass on? Or did he, (and had he done so at the time of the incident in chapter 34,) settle down?
b. What was really the idea of that altar that he built? Was this a truly pious act on Jacob’s part? Or was this an attempt to satisfy the Lord, this building of an altar and naming it El-Elohe-Israel, in lieu of going to Bethel?
c. Did the Lord appear to Jacob at all during this period? Did He do so at this altar?
2. How long did Jacob stay at Shechem?
a. Is this anywhere mentioned in Scripture?
b. Can we determine the approximate length of Jacob’s stay? How old were his children,-Dinah, Simeon, Levi,-at this time?
c. Can we determine, from the length of Jacob’s stay here, anything as to Jacob’s attitude at this time? Would you characterize it as a spiritually sound and healthy attitude, or was Jacob at this time rather carnal, revealing himself still in the old appearance of Jacob, the pre-Peniel Jacob?
B. Shechem’s Rape of Dinah:
1. Dinah’s part.
a. Who was Dinah? How old a girl was she?
b. What did Dinah do? Vs. 1. Was this a proper action on her part? Should she have been visiting “the daughters of the land?”
c. Do you think it surprising that she also came into contact with the young men of the land?
d. Was Dinah herself entirely innocent in this affair?
1. Was this a single incident? Or was this a love affair between Shechem and Dinah?
2. What do you suppose was Dinah’s reaction to Shechem? Did she lend an ear when Shechem spake “kindly” (literally: “spake to the heart”) to her?
e. Was Dinah, however, alone at fault in Jacob’s family?
1. Was there already something wrong in the family situation when she was allowed to visit the daughters of the land?
2. Was there something wrong in Dinah’s upbringing? In view of the fact that idols were served in Jacob’s household (cf. 35:4), could Dinah conclude that there would be anything wrong in seeking the fellowship of heathen young women and listening to the “kind” words of a heathen prince?
2. Shechem’s action:
a. Who was Shechem? What kind of man was he? What was he spiritually?
b. Was his act that of a sex maniac? Or did this illicit “love affair” apparently go on for some time?
c. What do you think of Shechem’s “love” for Dinah? Was this a case of “true love?” was it a case of “infatuation”?
d. How are we to judge of the fact that Shechem wanted Dinah for his wife? Is Shechem to be credited for “at least wanting to marry” Dinah after their illicit relationship?
e. What is meant by the fact that Shechem was “more honourable than all the house of his father?” vs. 19
f. As between Dinah and Shechem, who, in your opinion, was more honorable: the covenant young woman, Dinah, or the “outsider,” Shechem?
II. Jacob and His Sons Versus Hamor and Shechem: (vss. 5-19)
A. Hamor’s Proposal:
1. Jacob’s reaction:
a. How did Jacob become aware of the situation? Vs. 5
b. Does this tell us anything about the relationships in Jacob’s family? Was Jacob keeping a watchful fatherly eye on his daughter? Did his daughter confide in him?
c. How did Jacob react? Did he do anything immediately? Why did he wait until his sons came home? Did he get his sons out of the field? And what, after all, did his sons have to do with it? Was this a matter for Dinah’s brothers or for her parents?
d. With what, apparently, were Jacob and his sons very concerned at this time, -with building a God-fearing home or with multiplying cattle and possessions?
2. The proposal of Hamor:
a. Who was Hamor?
b. What did Hamor propose?
1) Was he interested merely in obtaining Dinah for his son?
2) Or did he see this as an opportunity to set up an alliance with the prosperous house of Jacob?
3) Did Hamor have anything “to lose” by this?
4) Did Jacob stand to lose anything by this proposal of Hamor? If so, what? Do you think Jacob should have accepted the proposal in good faith? Give reasons.
c. What was Shechem’s abiding interest in the whole transaction?
1) Was this lust?
2) Or was it love?
B. The Counter-proposal of Jacob’s sons:
1. Who answered Hamor?
a. Was this the proper province of Jacob’s sons?
b. What does this reveal concerning Jacob, if anything? Should he, as the head of the household, have left this to his sons? Did the fact that he did so absolve him of responsibility?
2. What did his sons demand of the Shechemites?
a. what is the meaning of circumcision? Cf. Romans 4:11, for example.
b. Supposing that the sons of Jacob were acting in “good faith,” even then would it have been proper for them to demand what they did and to make this arrangement? Would the mere rite of circumcision remove what they called the “reproach” of giving Dinah to Shechem?
c. Suppose that the whole arrangement had gone through as proposed by Jacob’s sons: what would have been the result?
d. To what use were these sons putting the covenant sign of circumcision?
e. What was their motive in all this? In what sense did they act deceitfully? Were they truly interested in circumcision? Did they have their eye on more cattle and goods?
III. The Outcome: (vss. 20-31)
A. For the Shechemites:
1. How did Hamor and Shechem view the sons of Jacob?
2. How do you explain the fact that they readily agreed to the proposal of Jacob’s sons?
3. What did Simeon and Levi do to the men of Shechem?
4. Would you say that the men of Shechem were “innocent victims?”
B. For Jacob’s sons:
1. Simeon and Levi:
a. What did they do?
b. Of what sins did they make themselves guilty?
1. Were they murderers?
2. Were they more than murderers?
3. In the slaying of these uncircumcised-circumcised Shechemites, did Simeon and Levi reveal themselves as respecting the sign of circumcision and as men who bore the sign of circumcision themselves?
c. What does Jacob say of them prophetically in Genesis 49?
2. The other sons:
a. Were the other sons free of responsibility? Proof?
b. How did these sons reveal their real motive? Vss. 27-29
C. For Dinah:
1. What became of Dinah?
a. Where was she already at the time of the slaughter? Is this of any significance?
b. Do we read of Dinah again?
2. How would you judge the outcome of the situation as far as Dinah was concerned?
a. Could we say that in spite of all the deceit and corruption here, -or rather, through it all, -the Lord nevertheless kept Dinah from an ungodly marital union?
b. Would it perhaps have been better if the marriage of Dinah and Shechem had gone through?
D. For Jacob:
1. Did Jacob receive “food for thought” as far as his family situation was concerned?
2. What did Jacob fear as far as the inhabitants of the land were concerned?
a. Was this a good reaction on his part?
b. Was there anything “spiritual” about Jacob’s attitude as expressed here?
3. Did his sons apparently care much about Jacob’s fears?
4. Was the Lord using these events to chastise Jacob? If so, how?
Could this be said about you?
Could this be written about you?
The Christians are not distinguished from other men by country, by language, nor by civil institutions. For they neither dwell in cities by themselves, nor use a peculiar tongue, nor lead a singular mode of life. They dwell in the Grecian or barbarian cities, as the case may be; they follow the usage of the country in dress, food, and the other affairs of life. Yet they present a wonderful and confessedly paradoxical conduct. They dwell in their own native lands, but as strangers. They take part in all things, as citizens; and they suffer all things, as foreigners. Every foreign country is a fatherland to them, and every native land is a foreign. They marry, like all others; they have children; but they do not cast away their offspring. They have the table in common, but not wives. They are in the flesh, but do not live after the flesh. They live upon the earth, but are citizens of heaven. They obey the existing laws, and excel the laws by their lives. They love all, and are persecuted by all. They are unknown, and yet they are condemned. They are killed and are made alive. They are poor and make many rich. They lack all things, and in all things abound. They are reproached, and glory in their reproaches. They are calumniated, and are justified. They are cursed, and they bless. They receive scorn, and they give honor. They do good, and are punished as evil-doers. When punished, they rejoice, as being made alive. By the Jews they are attacked as aliens and by the Greeks persecuted; and the cause of the enmity their enemies cannot tell. In short, what the soul is in the body, the Christians are in the world. The soul is diffused through all the members of the body, and the Christians are spread through the cities of the world. The soul dwells in the body, but it is not of the body; so the Christians dwell in the world but are not of the world. The soul, invisible, keeps watch in the visible body; so also the Christians are seen to live in the world, but their piety is invisible. The flesh hates and wars against the soul, suffering no wrong from it, but because it resists fleshly pleasures; and the world hates the Christians with no reason, but that they resist its pleasures. The soul loves the flesh and members, by which it is hated; so the Christians love their haters. The soul in enclosed in the body, but holds the body together; so the Christians are detained in the world as in a prison; but they contain the world. Immortal, the soul dwells in the mortal body; so the Christians dwell in the corruptible, but look for incorruption in heaven. The soul is the better for restriction in food and drink; and the Christians increase, though daily punished. This lot God has assigned to the Christian in the world; and it cannot be taken from them.
Author Unknown. Written about AD 100. Schaff’s History of the Christian Church. Vol II Pages 9 and 10.
One reads of no one who burst forth into bolder or more unbridled contempt of deity than Gaius Caligula; yet no one trembled more miserably when any sign of God’s wrath manifested itself; thus—albeit unwillingly—he shuddered at the God whom he professedly sought to despise. You may see now and again how this also happens to those like him; how he who is the boldest despiser of God is of all men the most startled at the rustle of a falling leaf.
Just as old or bleary-eyed men and those with weak vision, if you thrust before them a most beautiful volume, even if they recognize it to be some sort of writing, yet will begin to read distinctly; so Scripture, gathering up the otherwise confused knowledge of God in our minds, having dispersed our dullness, clearly shows us the true God. This therefore, is a special gift, where God, to instruct the church, not merely uses mute teachers but also opens his own most hallowed lips. John Calvin
The whole power of earth has armed itself to destroy it (the church), yet all these efforts have gone up in smoke. How could it, assailed so strongly from every side, have resisted if it had relied upon human protection alone? Rather, by this very fact it is proved to be from God, because, with all human efforts striving against it, still it has of its own power thus far prevailed.
Pride goeth before destruction. Proverbs
Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles. Proverbs
Even as Adam lived and was an active creature, not in or before his being created, but by virtue of this marvelous work of God, so the sinner lives, and becomes positively active, so that he wills to be saved and embraces Christ, not in cooperation with God who saves him, but as a result of the wonder of grace performed upon him.
Rev. H. Hoeksema
God reconciled us unto Himself while we were yet sinners! God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself…This is the meaning of the cross: God reconciled us to Himself through the death of His Son! There God reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them. There God Himself, through His Son in the flesh, satisfied His own justice. The Son of God brought the sacrifice that was required to blot out the guilt of sin, and to clothe us with an everlasting righteousness… And so, the Gospel is the ministry of reconciliation. It proclaims that reconciliation is an accomplished fact: the elect are surely reconciled to God. He reconciled us! We are reconciled by grace, by pure, free, sovereign grace!
Rev. H. Hoeksema
A spiritual union must be established between Christ and our soul, before we can receive any fruit of Christ’s death and resurrection. This union is absolutely first.
Rev. H. Hoeksema