Genesis 34

The Rape of Dinah and the Massacre at Shechem

1 Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land.
2 And Shechem, the son of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of the land, saw her. And he took her and lay with her and raped her.
3 And his soul clung to Dinah, the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the girl and spoke {tenderly} to the girl.
4 So Shechem said to Hamor his father, saying, "Get this girl for me as a wife."
5 And Jacob heard that Dinah his daughter had been defiled, but his sons were with his flocks in the field. And Jacob kept silent until they came.
6 And Hamor, father of Shechem, went out to Jacob to speak with him.
7 And the sons of Jacob came in from the field when they heard [it]. And the men were distressed and very angry because he had done a disgraceful thing in Israel by having sexual relations with the daughter of Jacob--{something that} should not be done.
8 And Hamor spoke with them saying, "Shechem my son {is in love with} your daughter. Please give her to him for a wife.
9 Make marriages with us. Give us your daughters and take our daughters for yourselves.
10 You shall dwell with us and the land shall be before you; settle and trade in it, and acquire [property] in it."
11 Then Shechem said to her father and to her brothers, "Let me find favor in your eyes, and whatever you say to me I will do.
12 {Make the bride price and gift as high as you like}; I will give what you say to me. But give me the girl as a wife."
13 Then the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and his father Hamor speaking deceitfully, because he had defiled Dinah their sister.
14 And they said to them, "We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to a man who [is] uncircumcised, for that [is] a disgrace for us.
15 Only on this [condition] will we give consent to you; if you will become like us--every male among you to be circumcised.
16 Then we will give our daughters to you, and we will take for ourselves your daughters, and we will live with you and become one family.
17 But if you will not listen to us, to be circumcised, then we will take our daughters and we will go."
18 And their words were good in the eyes of Hamor and in the eyes of Shechem, the son of Hamor.
19 And the young man did not delay to do the thing, for he wanted the daughter of Jacob. Now he [was] the most honored of his father's house.
20 Then Hamor and his son Shechem came to the gate of their city, and they spoke to the men of their city, saying,
21 "These men [are] at peace with us. Let them dwell in the land and let them trade in it. Now, behold, the land is {broad enough for them}. Let us take their daughters as wives, and let us give our daughters to them.
22 Only on this [condition] will they give consent to us, to live with us [and] to become one family--when every male among us [is] circumcised as they are circumcised.
23 Will not their livestock and their property and all their animals [be] ours? Only let us give consent to them so they will live among us."
24 And all those who went out of the gate of his city listened to Hamor and Shechem. Every male was circumcised, all those who went out of the gate of his city.
25 And it happened [that] on the third day, while they were in pain, two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, the brothers of Dinah, each took his sword and came against the unsuspecting city and killed all the males.
26 They killed Hamor and his son Shechem with the edge of the sword, and they took Dinah from the house of Shechem and went out.
27 The [other] sons of Jacob came upon the slain and plundered the city, because they had defiled their sister.
28 They took their flocks and their cattle and their donkeys, and whatever [was] in the field.
29 They captured and plundered all that [was] in the houses--all their wealth, their little ones, and their women.
30 Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, "You have brought trouble on me, making me stink among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites! I [am] few in number! If they gather against me and attack me, I will be destroyed--I and my household!"
31 But they said, "Shall he treat our sister like a prostitute?"

Genesis 34 Commentary

Chapter 34

Dinah defiled by Shechem. (1-19) The Shechemites murdered by Simeon and Levi. (20-31)

Verses 1-19 Young persons, especially females, are never so safe and well off as under the care of pious parents. Their own ignorance, and the flattery and artifices of designing, wicked people, who are ever laying snares for them, expose them to great danger. They are their own enemies if they desire to go abroad, especially alone, among strangers to true religion. Those parents are very wrong who do not hinder their children from needlessly exposing themselves to danger. Indulged children, like Dinah, often become a grief and shame to their families. Her pretence was, to see the daughters of the land, to see how they dressed, and how they danced, and what was fashionable among them; she went to see, yet that was not all, she went to be seen too. She went to get acquaintance with the Canaanites, and to learn their ways. See what came of Dinah's gadding. The beginning of sin is as the letting forth of water. How great a matter does a little fire kindle! We should carefully avoid all occasions of sin and approaches to it.

Verses 20-31 The Shechemites submitted to the sacred rite, only to serve a turn, to please their prince, and to enrich themselves, and it was just with God to bring punishment upon them. As nothing secures us better than true religion, so nothing exposes us more than religion only pretended to. But Simeon and Levi were most unrighteous. Those who act wickedly, under the pretext of religion, are the worst enemies of the truth, and harden the hearts of many to destruction. The crimes of others form no excuse for us. Alas! how one sin leads on to another, and, like flames of fire, spread desolation in every direction! Foolish pleasures lead to seduction; seduction produces wrath; wrath thirsts for revenge; the thirst of revenge has recourse to treachery; treachery issues in murder; and murder is followed by other lawless actions. Were we to trace the history of unlawful commerce between the sexes, we should find it, more than any other sin, ending in blood.

Footnotes 5

  • [a]. Literally "to the heart"
  • [b]. Literally "and thus"
  • [c]. Literally "his soul longs for"
  • [d]. Literally "Increase upon me very bride price and gift"
  • [e]. Literally "broad on sides before them"

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO GENESIS 34

This chapter gives an account of the ravishment of Dinah by Shechem, Ge 34:1-5; of his father Hamor and him treating with Jacob and his sons about the marriage of her, Ge 34:6-12; of the condition proposed by Jacob's sons, circumcision of all the males in Shechem, which was agreed to by Shechem and his father, Ge 34:13-19; of the men of Shechem being persuaded to yield to it, Ge 34:20-24; and of the destruction of them on the third day by Simeon and Levi, and of the plunder of their city and field, and of the captivity of their wives and children by Jacob's sons, which gave Jacob great offence, and in which they justified themselves, Ge 34:25-31.

Who is supposed to be at this time about fourteen or fifteen years of age: for that she was but about nine or ten years old is not to be credited, as some compute it {z}: she is observed to be the daughter of Leah, partly that the following miscarriage might bring to mind her forwardness to intrude herself into Jacob's bed, and be a rebuke unto her; and partly to account for Simeon and Levi being so active in revenging her abuse, they being Leah's sons: of Dinah it is said, that she

\\went out to see the daughters of the land\\; of the land of Canaan, to visit them, and contract an acquaintance with them; and she having no sisters to converse with at home, it might be a temptation to her to go abroad. According to the Targum of Jonathan, she went to see the manners, customs, and fashions of the women of that country, to learn them, as the Septuagint version renders the word; or to see their habit and dress, and how they ornamented themselves, as Josephus {a} observes; and who also says it was a festival day at Shechem, and therefore very probably many of the young women of the country round about might come thither on that occasion; and who being dressed in their best clothes would give Dinah a good opportunity of seeing and observing their fashions; and which, with the diversions of the season, and shows to be seen, allured Dinah to go out of her mother's tent into the city, to gratify her curiosity. Aben Ezra's note is, that she went of herself, that is, without the leave of either of her parents: according to other Jewish writers {b} there was a snare laid for her by Shechem, who observing that Jacob's daughter dwelt in tents, and did not go abroad, he brought damsels out of the city dancing and playing on timbrels; and Dinah went forth to see them playing, and he took her, and lay with her, as follows.

{z} R. Ganz. Tzemach David, par. l. fol. 6. 2. {a} Antiqu. l. 1. c. 21. sect. 1. {b} Pirke Eliezer, c. 38. fol. 42. 2. 08940-950104-0921-Ge34.2

Genesis 34 Commentaries