18 ¶ And their words pleased Hamor, and Shechem Hamor’s son. 19 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. 20 And Hamor and Shechem his son came unto the gate of their city, and communed with the men of their city, saying, 21 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. 22 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. 23 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. 24 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.
Now, Shechem, the man who assaulted Dinah, is said to be the most honorable man in his father’s family. This shows you how, by Christian standards, depraved the Canaanite culture was. He was very fond of Dinah, though, and wanted to ‘do the right thing’ because of his affection for her and not discard her like garbage as some cultures of men in America so easily do today. We understand and most of us accept today that rape is rape and a woman can say, “no,” at any time and it must be respected or the act is considered a crime. Offering to marry the girl doesn’t change anything.
Father and son encourage the men of their city to make this treaty of peace with Jacob’s sons and what must have been a rather large army of servants to care for their flocks. They would have been a formidable force. Hamor and Shechem, as part of their argument, say that this will signify a union between the family of Israel and themselves making them both one people.
Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews) are made one people at the Cross. Pay attention to Paul’s argument again.
Ephesians 2:14 ¶ For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. 18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
There is another hint here at self-interest. Hamor and Shechem want the men of their city to believe that with this union the wealth of Israel and his sons will be their wealth as well.
…all that went out of the gate of his city refers to the residents of the city, in context, the male residents who held political power. These are the men who could also defend the city. In this somewhat bizarre agreement based on questionable thinking on every side all of the men of the city consent to be circumcised.
It does not say that Jacob’s sons and servants did the circumcision but it is certain that Jacob’s sons would have been there to verify that it was done. This would not have been too strange, as we think of it.
Cultural standards were much different in the past than in the last century or two. My point is that people were must less concerned about such things between men in the past. For instance, the Greeks worked out in their gymnasiums naked and their athletic events were conducted in the nude. Presumably Hamor and Shechem did the circumcising as it was the custom for the leaders or priests to perform the act and we know the king of a city was also its high priest from past references. First, with Abraham, father to his children and master to his servants, to Joshua, leader of his people;
Genesis 17:23 And Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all that were born in his house, and all that were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house; and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the selfsame day, as God had said unto him.
Joshua 5:3 And Joshua made him sharp knives, and circumcised the children of Israel at the hill of the foreskins.
The very idea that the authority of governmental or even tribal leaders extends to our reproductive organs is appalling to us today. We cannot even imagine it. Imagine the local mayor or the patriarch of your extended family doing this. Imagine you letting them. We have relegated such things to doctors or, in the case of parts of the Jewish culture, a person called a ‘Mohel’ does this.
If by this point you don’t know what circumcision is you’ll have to look it up. I’m not going into the grisly details here.