Daily Devotional: Genesis 34:1-31

Jacob’s daughter is raped, and Jacob’s sons seek vengeance by killing all the males in Shechem and plundering their community. Moses is careful to explicitly state that rape is wrong (v. 7). It is evil and detestable. Though the response of Jacob’s sons seems an overreaction, Moses does not clarify explicitly whether it is right or wrong. I have a feeling it is a little of both. While some things are black-and-white. Rape is wrong. It’s always wrong. There are no exceptions. There are some grey areas that require much thought. Killing and plundering may not always be wrong—and the death penalty certainly seems just for someone who has forced a woman into sex or prostitution or the like.

The struggle we witness in the land of Canaan results from the curse in Genesis 3. Jacob and his family typify the seed of the woman. Shechem and his family typify the seed of the serpent. They struck Jacob’s heel. Jacob dealt a mortal blow to Shechem’s head. Such is the conflict between the kingdom of Christ and the kingdoms of the world. Satan’s children try to thwart the kingdom , but they will eventually meet their just, mortal end—not as a result of violence or trickery but as a result of the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary and the movement of the Holy Spirit in the world, convicting all people of sin.

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  • From my understanding, the reason Jacob calls out his sons for their actions against the Shechem and his family was because the latter offering to pay any Dowry price for Dinah and to marry her was the punishment for rape as detailed in the Torah(Deut. 22:28-29).

    Whilst Shechem was hardly innocent, he and his father were attempting diplomacy by approaching Jacob’s family, whilst Simeon and Levi’s revenge was performed under a false agreement and taking advantage of the religious ritual of circumcision. They also killed all the men of Shechem, whilst kidnapping the women and kids; hurting people whom had nothing to do with it, whilst committing the same crimes performed against Dinah.

    Like even back than, there was a point where vengeance can go too far. The modern day equivalent to Simeon and Levi’s response would be be responding to your sister’s rapist, apologizing and offering to do anything to make it up to your family by asking his family to perform a religious ritual, than murdering the attacker’s family and raping his sister.

    Basically don’t fight evil with more evil, especially when a non violent solution is presented.

    • I agree with you about fighting evil with evil, but it isn’t the point of the story. Torah wasn’t written yet—not until Moses wrote it for the Israelites going into Canaan 400+ years after this story takes place. Secondly, evil and violence are not synonymous in Scripture. God is sometimes violent but never evil.

      • In the version, I read, Jacob condemns Simeon and Levi for their actions against the city of Shechem on his deathbed, cursing their wrathfulness and deceptiveness. (genesis 49:5-7).

        So it seems whilst honor killing was sometimes allowed in the old testament, Simeon and Levi’s revenge was considered unjust.

        Besides the other things mentioned, circumcision was a holy ritual and by using it as a weapon of war, Simeon and Levi had given the practice and Jacob’s covenant a bad name among the people of land.

        There is another story in the Old Testament with honor killing that isn’t condemned and I think there are several reasons why it wasn’t criticized whilst Simeon and Levi’s revenge was.

      • Also later in the story, and not in this text. Jacob isn’t so exact in Chapter 49. I don’t like to add details that aren’t there.

        Again, I agree with your basic sentiments.

      • No problem and I like hearing your views.

        Jacob does mention that the brothers actions had given his covenant a bad name, I think thats what he meant.

        I think if Shechem had refused to make any kind of apology and the brothers hadn’t used misused religious rituals, diplomacy and had kept their revenge to Shechem, their vengeance wouldn’t have been looked on so badly by their father and the people of the land.

        Otherwise, they could’ve accepted the apology and compensation, whilst not accepting Dinah’s marriage to her attacker. One can be angry and not fully forgive someone, whilst realizing pursuing further vengeance would be detrimental to everyone. I doubt Dinah was pleased that they handed her over to Shechem’s house and than made witness to her brothers pillaging the town, its just piling more trauma on the poor girl, I think.

      • Probably, but not explicit. Jacob’s words to all his sons in 49 are general. That doesn’t exclude their specific actions here, but it doesn’t specifically refer to them.

        I just don’t like speculating so much. The point of the story is explicit and sets Judah up as the child of promise and forbearer of Christ—which is explicit. The story is not about what we need to do or not. It is about what God is working together to accomplish His own purpose in spite of human sin.

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