Genesis 34
Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary
And Dinah the daughter of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land.
During their stay at Shechem, Dinah, Jacob's daughter by Leah, went out one day to see, i.e., to make the acquaintance of the daughters of the land; when Shechem the Hivite, the son of the prince, took her with him and seduced her. Dinah was probably between 13 and 15 at the time, and had attained perfect maturity; for this is often the case in the East at the age of 12, and sometimes earlier. There is no ground for supposing her to have been younger. Even if she was born after Joseph, and not till the end of Jacob's 14 years' service with Laban, and therefore was only five years old when they left Mesopotamia, eight or ten years may have passed since then, as Jacob may easily have spent from eight to eleven years in Succoth, where he had built a house, and Shechem, where he had bought "a parcel of a field." But she cannot have been older; for, according to Genesis 37:2, Joseph was sold by his brethren when he was 17 years old, i.e., in the 11th year after Jacob's return from Mesopotamia, as he was born in the 14th year of Jacob's service with Laban

(Note: This view is generally supported by the earlier writers, such as Demetrius, Petavius (Hengst. Diss.), etc.; only they reckon Dinah's age at 16, placing her birth in the 14th year of Jacob's service.)

(cf. Genesis 30:24). In the interim between Dinah's seduction and the sale of Joseph there occurred nothing but Jacob's journey from Shechem to Bethel and thence to Ephratah, in the neighbourhood of which Benjamin was born and Rachel died, and his arrival in Hebron (Genesis 35). This may all have taken place within a single year. Jacob was till at Hebron, when Joseph was sent to Shechem and sold by his brethren (Genesis 37:14); and Isaac's death did not happen for 12 years afterwards, although it is mentioned in connection with the account of Jacob's arrival at Hebron (Genesis 35:27.).

And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her.
And his soul clave unto Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the damsel, and spake kindly unto the damsel.
Shechem "loved the girl, and spoke to her heart;" i.e., he sought to comfort her by the promise of a happy marriage, and asked his father to obtain her for him as a wife.

And Shechem spake unto his father Hamor, saying, Get me this damsel to wife.
And Jacob heard that he had defiled Dinah his daughter: now his sons were with his cattle in the field: and Jacob held his peace until they were come.
When Jacob heard of the seduction of his daughter, "he was silent," i.e., he remained quiet, without taking any active proceedings (ex. Gen 14:14; 2 Samuel 19:11) until his sons came from the field. When they heard of it, they were grieved and burned with wrath at the disgrace. טמּא to defile equals to dishonour, disgrace, because it was an uncircumcised man who had seduced her. "Because he had wrought folly in Israel, by lying with Jacob's daughter." "To work folly" was a standing phrase for crimes against the honour and calling of Israel as the people of God, especially for shameful sins of the flesh (Deuteronomy 22:21; Judges 20:10; 2 Samuel 13:2, etc.); but it was also applied to other great sins (Joshua 7:15). As Jacob had become Israel, the seduction of his daughter was a crime against Israel, which is called folly, inasmuch as the relation of Israel to God was thereby ignored (Psalm 14:1). "And this ought not to be done:" יעשׂה potentialis as in Genesis 20:9. - Hamor went to Jacob to ask for his daughter (Genesis 34:6); but Jacob's sons reached home at the same time (Genesis 34:7), so that Hamor spoke to them (Jacob and his sons). To attain his object Hamor proposed a further intermarriage, unrestricted movement on their part in the land, and that they should dwell there, trade (ἐμπορεύεσθαι), and secure possessions (נאחז settle down securely, as in Genesis 47:27). Shechem also offered (Genesis 34:11, Genesis 34:12) to give anything they might ask in the form of dowry (מהר not purchase-money, but the usual gift made to the bride, vid., Genesis 24:53) and presents (for the brothers and mother), if they would only give him the damsel.

And Hamor the father of Shechem went out unto Jacob to commune with him.
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.
And Hamor communed with them, saying, The soul of my son Shechem longeth for your daughter: I pray you give her him to wife.
And make ye marriages with us, and give your daughters unto us, and take our daughters unto you.
And ye shall dwell with us: and the land shall be before you; dwell and trade ye therein, and get you possessions therein.
And 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.
Ask 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.
And the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father deceitfully, and said, because he had defiled Dinah their sister:
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.

And 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:
But in this will we consent unto you: If ye will be as we be, that every male of you be circumcised;
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.
But if ye will not hearken unto us, to be circumcised; then will we take our daughter, and we will be gone.
And their words pleased Hamor, and Shechem Hamor's son.
The condition seemed reasonable to the two suitors, and by way of setting a good example, "the young man did not delay to do this word," i.e., to submit to circumcision, "as he was honoured before all his father's house." This is stated by anticipation in Genesis 34:19; but before submitting to the operation, he went with his father to the gate, the place of public assembly, to lay the matter before the citizens of the town. They knew so well how to make the condition palatable, by a graphic description of the wealth of Jacob and his family, and by expatiating upon the advantages of being united with them, that the Shechemites consented to the proposal. שׁלמים: integri, people whose bearing is unexceptionable. "And the land, behold broad on both sides it is before them," i.e., it offers space enough in every direction for them to wander about with their flocks. And then the gain: "Their cattle, and their possessions, and their beasts of burden...shall they not be ours?" מקנה is used here for flocks and herds, בּהמה for beasts of burden, viz., camels and asses (cf. Numbers 32:26). But notwithstanding the advantages here pointed out, the readiness of all the citizens of Shechem (vid., Genesis 23:10) to consent to be circumcised, could only be satisfactorily explained from the fact that this religious rite was already customary in different nations (according to Herod. 2, 104, among the Egyptians and Colchians), as an act of religious or priestly consecration.

And the young man deferred not to do the thing, because he had delight in Jacob's daughter: and he was more honourable than all the house of his father.
And Hamor and Shechem his son came unto the gate of their city, and communed with the men of their city, saying,
These men are peaceable with us; therefore let them dwell in the land, and trade therein; for the land, behold, it is large enough for them; let us take their daughters to us for wives, and let us give them our daughters.
Only herein will the men consent unto us for to dwell with us, to be one people, if every male among us be circumcised, as they are circumcised.
Shall not their cattle and their substance and every beast of theirs be ours? only let us consent unto them, and they will dwell with us.
And unto Hamor and unto Shechem his son hearkened all that went out of the gate of his city; and every male was circumcised, all that went out of the gate of his city.
And it came to pass on the third day, when they were sore, that two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah's brethren, took each man his sword, and came upon the city boldly, and slew all the males.
But on the third day, when the Shechemites were thoroughly prostrated by the painful effects of the operation, Simeon and Levi (with their servants of course) fell upon the town בּטח (i.e., while the people were off their guard, as in Ezekiel 30:9), slew all the males, including Hamor and Shechem, with the edge of the sword, i.e., without quarter (Numbers 21:24; Joshua 10:28, etc.), and brought back their sister. The sons of Jacob then plundered the town, and carried off all the cattle in the town and in the fields, and all their possessions, including the women and the children in their houses. By the sons of Jacob (Genesis 34:27) we are not to understand the rest of his sons to the exclusion of Simeon, Levi, and even Reuben, as Delitzsch supposes, but all his sons. For the supposition, that Simeon and Levi were content with taking their murderous revenge, and had no share in the plunder, is neither probable in itself nor reconcilable with what Jacob said on his death-bed (Genesis 49:5-7, observe שׁור עקּרוּ) about this very crime; nor can it be inferred from ויּצאוּ in Genesis 34:26, for this relates merely to their going away from the house of the two princes, not to their leaving Shechem altogether. The abrupt way in which the plundering is linked on to the slaughter of all the males, without any copulative Vav, gives to the account the character of indignation at so revolting a crime; and this is also shown in the verbosity of the description. The absence of the copula is not to be accounted for by the hypothesis that Genesis 34:27-29 are interpolated; for an interpolator might have supplied the missing link by a vav, just as well as the lxx and other ancient translators.

And they slew Hamor and Shechem his son with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah out of Shechem's house, and went out.
The sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and spoiled the city, because they had defiled their sister.
They took their sheep, and their oxen, and their asses, and that which was in the city, and that which was in the field,
And all their wealth, and all their little ones, and their wives took they captive, and spoiled even all that was in the house.
And Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, Ye have troubled me to make me to stink among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites: and I being few in number, they shall gather themselves together against me, and slay me; and I shall be destroyed, I and my house.
Jacob reproved the originators of this act most severely for their wickedness: "Ye have brought me into trouble (conturbare), to make me stink (an abomination) among the inhabitants of the land;...and yet I((with my attendants) am a company that can be numbered (lit., people of number, easily numbered, a small band, Deuteronomy 4:27, cf. Isaiah 10:19); and if they gather together against me, they will slay me," etc. If Jacob laid stress simply upon the consequences which this crime was likely to bring upon himself and his house, the reason was, that this was the view most adapted to make an impression upon his sons. For his last words concerning Simeon and Levi (Genesis 49:5-7) are a sufficient proof that the wickedness of their conduct was also an object of deep abhorrence. And his fear was not groundless. Only God in His mercy averted all the evil consequences from Jacob and his house (Genesis 35:5-6). But his sons answered, "Are they to treat our sister like a harlot?" עשׂה: as in Leviticus 16:15, etc. Their indignation was justifiable enough; and their seeking revenge, as Absalom avenged the violation of his sister on Amnon (2 Samuel 13:22.), was in accordance with the habits of nomadic tribes. In this way, for example, seduction is still punished by death among the Arabs, and the punishment is generally inflicted by the brothers (cf. Niebuhr, Arab. p. 39; Burckhardt, Syr. p. 361, and Beduinen, p. 89, 224-5). In addition to this, Jacob's sons looked upon the matter not merely as a violation of their sister's chastity, but as a crime against the peculiar vocation of their tribe. But for all that, the deception they practised, the abuse of the covenant sign of circumcision as a means of gratifying their revenge, and the extension of that revenge to the whole town, together with the plundering of the slain, were crimes deserving of the strongest reprobation. The crafty character of Jacob degenerated into malicious cunning in Simeon and Levi; and jealousy for the exalted vocation of their family, into actual sin. This event "shows us in type all the errors into which the belief in the pre-eminence of Israel was sure to lead in the course of history, whenever that belief was rudely held by men of carnal minds" (O. v. Gerlach).

And they said, Should he deal with our sister as with an harlot?
Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch [1857-78].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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