Saturday, February 4, 2017

Genesis 34:6-17 comments: an attempt to nullify revenge

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. 11  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. 12  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. 13  And the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father deceitfully, and said, because he had defiled Dinah their sister: 14  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: 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.

Shechem’s father, Hamor, meets with Jacob to try to work out a marriage agreement with him. Jacob’s sons, Dinah’s brothers, were filled with wrath at the offense done to the family. Verse 7 is interesting in that the statement is made that what has happened is wrong.

Let’s remember an important point here, that God did not create culture, not yours, not theirs. Culture and civilization’s existence is part of God’s permissive will, not necessarily His direct will. Remember, God does have a will where He wants something to happen, prefers it to happen, indeed even ordains it which the Christian should always be seeking.

Romans 12:1 ¶  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

God, though, often accomplishes His desired ends in a different than a preferred way, by allowing man to have the desires of his heart, even if the consequences are painful to man. This happens in everyday life as well as in the bigger events of history. No one would argue that it would not have been better for mankind if he and she had stayed as husbandmen in God’s garden having eternal fellowship with Him but those who believe and trust Him will eventually have that eternal fellowship, only with a much longer way around to get there.

In God’s will there were previous incidents where He did not permit rape and murder to happen, in the previously mentioned cases involving Abraham and Sarah, and Isaac and Rebekah. But, God did not prevent Shechem from assaulting Dinah. Here, He allows something which reveals character, behavior, and the nature of a people; vengeful, capable of wrath and great violence, as well as duplicitousness. Like we Gentiles the Hebrews, the family of Israel, were not righteous in themselves. They needed God’s hand but, as we do, often went their own way.

Rape, sexual violence, in the degradation of the ancient world, was viewed differently than we do today, at least today in the more sophisticated contemporary countries and cultures. It was less a crime against a woman than it was against her family in a context such as this. In primitive, abased cultures rape is either the woman’s fault or a means by which a more physically or politically powerful man may have his way with a woman who is not protected by the men of her family or husband.

This sin falls under the very same thought processes as many sins of unregenerate man. “I can do it because I want to do it and I can do it because it is within my power to do it.” It is only after the fact that people might have second thoughts. Think of the many couples in today’s world who committed fornication and then, finding that the woman was pregnant, decided to, “do the right thing,” and get married.

This is the same type of thinking, as well, that goes into the Ayn Rand type of, “whatever I want is good,” or, “whatever I perceive to be in my own self-interest is the greatest good.” There is little difference in the sinner’s heart whether he or she commits a violent interpersonal act or simply a non-violent, selfish act. The feeling is the same as in the RocknRoll song, “Kinda I want to.”

Hamor is going further. He is trying to make peace with Jacob’s family by reciprocation, offering his own daughters and women of their tribe to Jacob’s sons. Whether this is an attempt to prevent revenge or, in acknowledging guilt a political ploy to cover over the evil we cannot know. Jacob’s sons, as crafty as old Jacob once was, say that they will only consent to this peace treaty if Hamor’s people accept circumcision, their own sign of unity and obedience to God, and they will become one people. That, of course, is not their intention at all. Revenge is their intention.

This ancient city, as mentioned before, would have had family worship around idols, gods, and city worship as a singular religious entity. There is the danger, of course, at this early time, if Jacob’s sons had truly agreed with Hamor, of the Hebrews as a separate people being a dead issue. The coming act of violence will keep them separate from those around them. The important thing is that God permits it to happen. His chosen people will do it and He will use it for His purposes while revealing their character and true nature. But, we Christians are admonished;

Romans 12:19  Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

I recently read a news article about a man “beating up” a 13 year old boy who offered his 13 year old daughter a key chain for her virginity and going to prison for the beating he administered. Can any father out there honestly blame that father for his rage? Don’t think too harshly of Dinah’s brothers. Examine yourself.

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