|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
34:1-19 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 13-17. - And the sons of Jacob (manifestly without the knowledge of their father) answered Shechem and Humor his father deceitfully, and said, - the object of the verb said is to be found in the next verse, "we cannot do this thing," the clause commencing "because" being parenthetical (Rosenmüller, Furst), so that it is unnecessary either to take דְבֶּר in the unusual sense of doles struere (Schultens, Gasenius, Keil), or to supply after said "with deceit" from the preceding clause (Onkelos, Ainsworth, Murphy, et alii) - because he had defiled Dinah their sister (to be taken parenthetically, as already explained): and they said unto them (these words revert to the preceding verse), We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one that is uncircumcised (vide Genesis 17:11); for that were a reproach unto us. The ground on which they declined a matrimonial alliance with Shechem was good; their sin lay in advancing this simply as a pretext to enable them to wreak their unholy vengeance on Shechem and his innocent people. The treacherous character of their next proposal is difficult to be reconciled with any claim to humanity, far less to religion, on the part of Jacob's sons; so much so, that 'Jacob on his death-bed can offer no palliation for the atrocious cruelty to which it led (Genesis 49:6, 7). But in this (i.e. under this condition) will we consent unto you: If ye will be as we be, that every male of you be circumcised (literally, to have circumcision administered to you every male); then will we give our daughters unto you, and we will take your daughters to us (i.e. to be our wives), and we will dwell with you, and we will become one people. This proposal was sinful, since
(1) they had no right to offer the sign of God's covenant to a heathen people;
(2) they had less right to employ it in ratification of a merely human agreement; and
(3) they had least right of all to employ it in duplicity as a mask for their treachery. But if ye will not hearken unto us, to be circumcised; then (rather, sc. then we will not consent to your proposal, and) we will take our daughter, - who was still in Shechem s house (ver. 26) - and we will be gone.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor deceitfully,.... Proposing the marriage of their sister on terms after mentioned, when they never intended it should ever be: Onkelos, Jonathan, and Jarchi interpret it, "with wisdom", as if they answered wisely and prudently, but the word is never used in a good sense; and if it was wisdom, it was carnal wisdom and wicked cunning, and was disapproved of by plain hearted Jacob:
and said: or spoke in this deceitful manner:
because he had defiled Dinah their sister; and therefore were filled with indignation at him, and fired with resentment against him, and vowed within themselves revenge upon him.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
13. The sons of Jacob answered—The honor of their family consisted in having the sign of the covenant. Circumcision was the external rite by which persons were admitted members of the ancient Church. But that outward rite could not make the Shechemites true Israelites; and yet it does not appear that Jacob's sons required anything more. Nothing is said of their teaching the people to worship the true God, but only of their insisting on their being circumcised; and it is evident that they did not seek to convert Shechem, but only made a show of religion—a cloak to cover their diabolical design. Hypocrisy and deceit, in all cases vicious, are infinitely more so when accompanied with a show of religion; and here the sons of Jacob, under the pretense of conscientious scruples, conceal a scheme of treachery as cruel and diabolical as was, perhaps, ever perpetrated.
Genesis 34:13 Parallel Commentaries
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