What an ugly chapter, Genesis 32. It starts so innocent and ends so violent…and yet it is a story of many lives, starting out innocent but ending very badly.
Dinah went to visit some of her friends who lived in a different neighborhood. One of the local boys saw her, desired her and raped her. He was a prince, and maybe had an inflated ego about himself and his position. He may have rationalized his behavior by “speaking tenderly” to her afterwards. Whatever it was, it was devastating to her and her family. And to make it worse, he kidnapped her, keeping her from returning to her family (34:26)
To cover his tracks, Shechem told his father and asked him to buy off Dinah’s father, Jacob. Hamor made an appealing offer to Jacob, but when Dinah’s brothers heard of it, they wanted nothing to do with it.
What had happened to one, felt like it had happened to all.
Sometimes it’s hard to understand a minority community’s response to injustice from a majority position. We don’t know what it was like for Dinah’s brothers to be newcomers to this land. But when Dinah was taken by force, it triggered intense feelings by her brothers as “they were very angry because he had done a disgraceful thing in Israel by lying with Jacob’s daughter, for such a thing ought not to be done.” In fact, their response is greater than the response of their own father who was strangely silent.
And just as Jacob had been the master of deceit with his brother Esau, his sons followed the family legacy. They convinced Shechem, Hamor and all their people to be circumcised. I would have loved to have heard that conversation! You want me to do what? But amazingly, the people went along with the deal as Jacob’s sons lied to make it happen, knowing the violence that would come out of the lie.
25 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…
28 They took their flocks and their herds and their donkeys,
and that which was in the city and that which was in the field;
29 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 bloodshed and horror! Talk about vengeance! Two men being able to do that much destruction – it blows any perception of reason!
Jacob didn’t approve of what they did afterward the fact, but was strangly silent when they struck the deal with Hamor. Was he blind to the compromise? Was he blind to the scheme?
And what about those wives and little one who were taken, who saw the bloodshed? They were as much damaged goods as Dinah was. Taking the possessions was greed. And what about Dinah? She’s never mentioned again.
This chapter makes my heart so sad. Sin is out of control outside of Jacob’s family, and inside Jacob’s family.
I think of racism, out of control outside of minority communities, producing calls for vengeance inside minority communities, that lead to more calls of vengeance. I think of racism outside Christian circles as well as inside Christian circles, going round and round.
Jacob’s family, and our Christian family, needs a touch from God to stop the cycle – it’s the only solution…