Genesis 34:23
Shall not their cattle and their substance and every beast of their's be our's? only let us consent to them, and they will dwell with us.
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Genesis 34:23. Shall not their cattle and substance be ours? — Either for our use and benefit in the way of trade and commerce, or because they will descend to the issue of our children as well as theirs. Thus they cover their private designs with the specious show of public good.34:20-31 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.Hamor and Shekem accept the terms, and immediately proceed to carry them into effect. It is testified of Shekem, that he delayed not to do the thing, and that he was more honorable than all his house. They bring the matter before their fellow-citizens, and urge them to adopt the rite of circumcision, on the ground that the men are peaceable, well-conducted, and they and their cattle and goods would be a valuable addition to the common wealth of their tribe. Hence, it appears that the population was still thin, that the neighboring territory was sufficient for a much larger number than its present occupants, and that a tribe found a real benefit in an accession to his numbers. The people were persuaded to comply with the terms proposed. There is nothing said here of the religious import of the rite, or of any diversity of worship that may have existed between the two parties. But it is not improbable that the Shekemites were prepared for mutual toleration, or even for the adoption of the religion of Israel in its external forms, though not perhaps to the exclusion of their own hereditary customs. It is also possible that the formal acknowledgment of the one true God was not yet extinct. Circumcision has been in use among the Egyptians, Colchians (Herodotus ii. 104), and other eastern nations; but when and how introduced we are not informed. The present narrative points out one way in which it may have spread from nation to nation.20. Hamor and Shechem … came unto the gate of their city—That was the place where every public communication was made; and in the ready obsequious submission of the people to this measure we see an evidence either of the extraordinary affection for the governing family, or of the abject despotism of the East, where the will of a chief is an absolute command. Shall not their substance be ours? Either for our use and benefit in the way of commerce and trade; or because they will descend to the issue of our children as well as theirs; or because we being more numerous and potent than they, can easily overrule them, and when we think meet, dispose all things to our own advantage. Thus they cover their private design with the specious show of public good. Shall not their cattle, and their substance, and every beast of theirs, be ours?.... Which would in course come into their families in process of time, by intermarrying with them, or, being more numerous and powerful than they, could seize upon them when they pleased, and take all they had: thus they argue from the profit and advantage that would accrue to them by admitting them among them, upon their terms; and this argument, taken from worldly interest, they knew would have great influence upon them:

only let us consent unto them; in the affair of circumcision:

and they will dwell with us; and what by trading with them, and marrying among them, all their wealth and riches will come into our hands.

Shall not {h} their cattle and their substance and every beast of theirs be ours? only let us consent unto them, and they will dwell with us.

(h) Thus they do not lack any form of perversion, who prefer their own convenience before the common good.

23. cattle … substance] It would be a good business transaction.Attractive as these offers of the Hivite prince and his son were, they were declined by Jacob's sons, who had the chief voice in the question of their sister's marriage (vid., Genesis 24:50). And they were quite right; for, by accepting them, they would have violated the sacred call of Israel and his seed, and sacrificed the promises of Jehovah to Mammon. But they did it in a wrong way; for "they answered with deceit and acted from behind" (וידבּרוּ בּמרמה: דּבּר) is to be rendered dolos struxit; דּברים דּבּר would be the expression for "giving mere words," Hosea 10:4; vid., Ges. thes.), "because he had defiled Dinah their sister." They told him that they could not give their sister to an uncircumcised man, because this would be a reproach to them; and the only condition upon which they would consent (נאות imperf. Niph. of אוּת) was, that the Shechemites should all be circumcised; otherwise they would take their sister and go.
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