Treachery of Dinah's Brethren. B. C. 1732.
6 And Hamor the father of Shechem went out unto Jacob to commune with him. 7 And the sons of Jacob came out of the field when they heard it: and the men were grieved, and they were very wroth, because he had wrought folly in Israel in lying with Jacob's daughter which thing ought not to be done. 8 And Hamor communed with them, saying, The soul of my son Shechem longeth for your daughter: I pray you give her him to wife. 9 And make ye marriages with us, and give your daughters unto us, and take our daughters unto you. 10 And ye shall dwell with us: and the land shall be before you dwell and trade ye therein, and get you possessions therein. 11And Shechem said unto her father and unto her brethren, Let me find grace in your eyes, and what ye shall say unto me I will give. 12Ask me never so much dowry and gift, and I will give according as ye shall say unto me: but give me the damsel to wife. 13And the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father deceitfully, and said, because he had defiled Dinah their sister: 14And they said unto them, We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one that is uncircumcised for that were a reproach unto us: 15 But in this will we consent unto you: If ye will be as we be, that every male of you be circumcised 16 Then will we give our daughters unto you, and we will take your daughters to us, and we will dwell with you, and we will become one people. 17 But if ye will not hearken unto us, to be circumcised then will we take our daughter, and we will be gone.
Jacob's sons, when they heard of the injury done to Dinah, showed a very great resentment of it, influenced perhaps rather by jealousy for the honour of their family than by a sense of virtue. Many are concerned at the shamefulness of sin that never lay to heart the sinfulness of it. It is here called folly in Israel (Genesis 34:7), according to the language of after-times for Israel was not yet a people, but a family only. Note, 1. Uncleanness is folly for it sacrifices the favour of God, peace of conscience, and all the soul can pretend to that is sacred and honourable, to a base and brutish lust. 2. This folly is most shameful in Israel, in a family of Israel, where God is known and worshipped, as he was in Jacob's tents, by the name of the God of Israel. Folly in Israel is scandalous indeed. 3. It is a good thing to have sin stamped with a bad name: uncleanness is here proverbially called folly in Israel, 2 Samuel 13:12. Dinah is here called Jacob's daughter, for warning to all the daughters of Israel, that they betray not themselves to this folly.
Hamor came to treat with Jacob himself, but he turns him over to his sons and here we have a particular account of the treaty, in which, it is a shame to say, the Canaanites were more honest than the Israelites.
I. Hamor and Shechem fairly propose this match, in order to a coalition in trade. Shechem is deeply in love with Dinah he will have her upon any terms, Genesis 34:11,12. His father not only consents, but solicits for him, and gravely insists upon the advantages that would follow from the union of the families, Genesis 34:9,10. He shows no jealousy of Jacob, though he was a stranger, but rather an earnest desire to settle a correspondence with him and his family, making him that generous offer, The land shall be before you, trade you therein.
II. Jacob's sons basely pretend to insist upon a coalition in religion, when really they designed nothing less. If Jacob had taken the management of this affair into his own hands, it is probable that he and Hamor would soon have concluded it but Jacob's sons meditate only revenge, and a strange project they have for the compassing of it--the Shechemites must be circumcised not to make them holy (they never intended that), but to make them sore, that they might become an easier prey to their sword. 1. The pretence was specious. "It is the honour of Jacob's family that they carry about with them the token of God's covenant with them and it will be a reproach to those that are thus dignified and distinguished to enter into such a strict alliance with those that are uncircumcised (Genesis 34:14) and therefore, if you will be circumcised, then we will become one people with you," Genesis 34:15,16. Had they been sincere herein their proposal of these terms would have had in it something commendable for Israelites should not intermarry with Canaanites, professors with profane it is a great sin, or at least the cause and inlet of a great deal, and has often been of pernicious consequence. The interest we have in any persons, and the hold we have of them, should be wisely improved by us, to bring them to the love and practice of religion (He that winneth souls is wise) but then we must not, like Jacob's sons, think it enough to persuade them to submit to the external rites of religion, but must endeavour to convince them of its reasonableness, and to bring them acquainted with the power of it. 2. The intention was malicious, as appears by the sequel of the story all they aimed at was to prepare them for the day of slaughter. Note, Bloody designs have often been covered, and carried on, with a pretence of religion thus they have been accomplished most plausibly and most securely: but this dissembled piety is, doubtless, double iniquity. Religion is never more injured, nor are God's sacraments more profaned, than when they are thus used for a cloak of maliciousness. Nay, if Jacob's sons had not had this bloody design, I do not see how they could justify their offering the sacred sign of circumcision, the seal of God's covenant, to these devoted Canaanites, who had no part nor lot in the matter. Those had no right to the seal that had no right to the promise. It is not meet to take the children's bread, and cast it to dogs: but Jacob's sons valued not this, while they could make it serve their turn.