Sunday, October 21, 2018

Genesis Post 53 - Unmixed (Chapter 34)

We now come to a tough chapter in the history of Israel.

It is interesting to note that chapter 33 ended with God, and chapter 35 will begin with God, but in this chapter, He is not mentioned.

Jacob has just withstood potential physical attacks, from Laban and from Esau.  The enemy of our souls now tries a different tactic with the covenant people:  spiritual attack.  Mixing.  The very definition of holy is to be set apartUnmixed.

Enter the story of Dinah.

The chapter starts out like this in verse 1:
Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land.

The Hebrew word for see, ro'eh, also carries the meaning of choosing.  She is probably a bored, curious teenager at this point, surrounded by brothers, and is looking for some excitement.  She begins hanging out with the young people of the land.  She isn't necessarily looking for trouble, but trouble finds her.

Dinah checks out the local scene

Shechem, the son of Hamor, sees (the same word as earlier, meaning that he also chooses) her and wants her.  Since he is a prince among his people, he simply takes her and defiles her.  We don't know if she resists or not.  My guess is not.

Look at the context of verse 3; it makes him sound like a nice guy:
His soul was strongly attracted to Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the young woman and spoke kindly to the young woman.

Shechem then speaks to his father, demanding that he arrange his marriage to Dinah.

Verse 5 tells us that Jacob hears what has happened, but we see no reaction from him.  Curious.  He holds his peace until his sons come in from the fields.

But when his sons hear about it, they flip out.  Their sister has been dishonored.  (Honor has been and remains today a very high value in the Middle East).

Hamor begs the house of Israel for a marriage between Dinah and his son Shechem.  He goes on to suggest that the two cultures merge, intermarry, and dwell together.  He promises the house of Israel anything they want.  (By the way, the name Hamor means ass - as in donkey).

Hmm.  Tempting.  The evil one, working behind the scene, wants them to become a mixed people.  He's trying to mess up the Abrahamic Covenant.

The same evil one is still at work today, tempting us to mix the profane with the holy.  And sadly, we do it without even thinking about it - so much pagan tradition has become so ingrained in our culture and our own traditions.

But Jacob's boys don't fall for it; however, they pretend that they do.  So now the sons of the deceiver create a plan of deception using the very sign of the covenant - circumcision.  The very sign that ironically sets them apart as a people.

They come up with a devious plan that involves all the men of Shechem submitting to circumcision.

Verse 19 actually tell us that young Shechem eagerly goes along with this, so great was his delight in Dinah.  And the verse tells us that he is more honorable than all the household of his father.  Does that sound like an accurate description of a rapist?  Remember the story of David's kids, Tamar and Amnon in 2 Samuel 13?  In that story, Tamar actively resists her half brother.  And after he defiles her, Amnon despises her.  This situation is different.  We see no resistance from Dinah and we see a declaration of love, as self-serving as that love might be on the part of Shechem.

So how in the world is Hamor going to convince a village-full of men to go along with circumcision?

Verse 23 tells us, and also reveals part of their true motive - greed.
Will not their livestock, their property, and every animal of theirs be ours? Only let us consent to them, and they will dwell with us.”

Face it, the Israelites were very wealthy at this point.  Appealing to their greed works, and all the men submit to surgery.

Then this happens in verse 25:
Now it came to pass on the third day, when they were in pain, that two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, each took his sword and came boldly upon the city and killed all the males.

The rabbis say that the pain of circumcision is at its worst on day three.  So the actions of Simeon and Levi are quite literally a low blow.

The city is plundered, the wealth, wives, and little ones are taken, and it is a bloodbath.

Jacob is mortified.  And terrified.  He tells his two sons that they have made him obnoxious (literally a bad smell or a stink in the nostrils) among the inhabitants of the land, and that the Canaanites will now rise up and destroy the entire family of Jacob.  

But they just say, “Should he treat our sister like a harlot?”

This whole episode is crazy, so you would think that the Israelites would get a giant rebuke from the LORD.  But they don't.  In fact, in the next chapter, we are going to see how He actually protects the family of Jacob as they depart the area.

What??  Didn't Levi and Simeon grossly overreact?  Where is the outrage?  What about an eye for an eye?

Let's look at a similar story and what the reaction of the LORD is.  In Numbers 25, the Israelites begin to mix with the Moabites, bowing down in worship to their gods in addition to their own.  One Israelite named Zimri (which means to celebrate in song) was joining together sexually with a Moabite woman named Cozbi (which means deception) right in the tent of meeting.  A priest by the name of Phinehas actually runs a sword through them.  Does he get in trouble for this violent act?  

No, thus says the LORD:
Behold, I give to him My covenant of peace; and it shall be to him and his descendants after him a covenant of an everlasting priesthood, because he was zealous for his God, and made atonement for the children of Israel.’ ”

The LORD is zealous for holiness!  He does not condone mixed worship.  I think of the seven biblical feasts that He has given us - His appointed times - and do we do anything with them?  No.  We are much more enthralled with the ones given to us by pagan Rome.

By the way, Dinah means judgment, as in acquitted or vindicated

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