The Gentiles Who are Turning to God
Introduction: God chose Abraham and through him Isaac and then Jacob. Jacob became Israel and his family became the covenant people of God. However, throughout their history, gentiles joined to them and became a part of this unfolding story.
Abraham was given directions for circumcision for anyone who would join them in the family, but in due time Christ came and fulfilled the law, which included circumcision – a rite which pictured His coming and His work. (Explain Colossian 2:11)
Circumcision as a rite is fulfilled in Him and this truth is seen in the story about Dinah. Although a tragic story, it is one which was included to show us pictures of things to come. I hope what you hear today will help you to understand a little more fully the truth that the work of Jesus is all sufficient for our salvation. Nothing else is needed and nothing is to be added to it.
Text Verse: But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods. But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? Galatians 4:8, 9
Paul calls the requirements of the law “beggarly elements” and “bondage.” Is that what Christ came to do – to give us things which are unsound and which will imprison us? No, He came to free us from the law and its weakness. Our faith in Him and His work is all-sufficient for us as we’ll see in today’s story and so… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.
I. Cursed Be Their Anger
25 Now it came to pass on the third day, when they were in pain, that two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, each took his sword and came boldly upon the city and killed all the males.
This is now the fourth time the term “third day” is mentioned in the Bible. It’s a very common theme and it carries through with the resurrection of Christ which came, as the Bible tells us numerous times, “on the third day.”
The third day after a bodily trauma is when inflammation is at its height and fever is often set in. This past week, I had a swollen finger from a splinter… this came on the third day.
It is at this time that two of the sons of Leah and Jacob, making them whole brothers of Dinah, killed all the males of the city. These two are Simeon and Levi. At this point, they would have been about 17 to 20 years old. They’re at the prime of their life and at the point where males are often the most violent.
This deception and violent outburst will have a lasting effect on their lives and will cost them favor with their father and the loss of the preeminent position in the family. Reuben is the oldest son of Jacob, but he will lose his position when he sleeps with his father’s wife Bilhah.
Simeon and Levi will also be passed over for the honored status because of what they have done here. Before his death, Jacob blessed the sons of Israel. When he did, he pronounced these words over Simeon and Levi –
“Simeon and Levi are brothers; Instruments of cruelty are in their dwelling place. 6 Let not my soul enter their council; Let not my honor be united to their assembly; For in their anger they slew a man, And in their self-will they hamstrung an ox. 7 Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce; And their wrath, for it is cruel! I will divide them in Jacob And scatter them in Israel.” Genesis 49:5-7
In fact, they were divided in Jacob and scattered in Israel. Levi, as the priestly tribe never had a land inheritance as the other tribes did. They were dispersed among the tribes. Simeon likewise was allocated to live within the borders of the land given to Judah and they became scattered among the tribe of Judah.
As a further testament to the sad consequences of their actions, Simeon is the only tribe who received no blessing from Moses when he blessed the tribes before his death. What they did, even if it was with the intent of protecting the name and honor of Dinah, is implicitly noted in the Bible as a cursed offense and one which lacks honor.
26 And they killed Hamor and Shechem his son with the edge of the sword,
Under the law, we read these words in Deuteronomy 24 –
Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall children be put to death for their fathers; a person shall be put to death for his own sin. (16)
Although what happened here was before the time of the law, the concept of what is morally right and wrong stands within the precept. Not only did they kill all the males of the land, but they killed Hamor for what Shechem did.
We can make suppositions and guesses about the nature of Hamor, and how he dealt with what Shechem did, and we can make suppositions and guesses about what Shechem himself did or didn’t deserve. However, there was no trial, there was no leniency, and there was no granting of mercy apart from these things.
The actions of Simeon and Levi are highlighted as without approval throughout the chapter. Neither Jacob nor God was consulted, there was lying and deception, and there was the intentional murder of innocent people in violation of God’s ruling that was given to Noah after the flood.
As a little side note to this verse and a squiggle for your brain if you like these types of things, the translation which says they killed with the “edge of the sword” comes from the Hebrew words
l’pi khareb – “the mouth of the sword.”
With the exception of Young’s Literal Translation, even the other most literal translations fail to convey the concept of the sword found which is found in the Bible. It is a devouring instrument. The edge, or mouth, of the sword is what steals away the soul of man, thus consuming it. The imagery in the Hebrew is outstanding.
26 (con’t) and took Dinah from Shechem’s house, and went out.
They took Dinah from Shechem’s house. Do you remember what Dinah means? Do you remember what Shechem means? Do you remember that Shechem thought what he was doing was right? If you can piece those together, then you may have an idea what this story is detailing.
God doesn’t waste words, and He pulls snippets of true life out for His word when it will show us an important truth or a coming picture. This chapter is no different.
27 The sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and plundered the city, because their sister had been defiled.
Simeon and Levi did the killing, but now it says that the sons of Jacob joined in the aftermath. With all the people dead, they strip the bodies bare. This was done “because their sister had been defiled.” The price was high for the passionate lusts of one man who then fell in love with the object of his lust.
28 They took their sheep, their oxen, and their donkeys, what was in the city and what was in the field,
I want to take you back to verse 23 and the words of Hamor and Shechem – “Will not their livestock (meaning Jacob’s), their property, and every animal of theirs be ours? Only let us consent to them, and they will dwell with us.”
The very thing that they bribed the townspeople with is the thing that this verse describes as having been taken after they were killed. Their agreement to the circumcision was a hypocritical profession for the sake of worldly advantage and the pleasing of their own prince.
What has come upon them, although undeserved from the hands of man, is a just and appropriate retaliation from the hand of Providence. Everything they desired and lusted after from Jacob has become a prey to the house of Jacob from them.
29 and all their wealth. All their little ones and their wives they took captive; and they plundered even all that was in the houses.
All the wealth of the town was assimilated into the people and family of Israel through this incident. The word here for wealth is the Hebrew word khelam. It indicates more than just possessions, but that which makes one powerful.
This would have included the gold, jewels, and weapons. All of this is now added to the wealth of Israel. Jacob was already wealthy on his own accord, but now more so. Eventually, he will also receive all the wealth of Isaac too.
And so when Jacob moves to Egypt in his later years, although it only records the immediate family members, along with them will go all of these people and possessions. Amazingly and as is often overlooked in our evaluation of the wars and captivities of the Old Testament, the people who are subdued by Israel often actually become a part of the people of Israel.
What seems a catastrophe, and which indeed it was in the killing of these people, is also a point of grace. The women and children and their children after them will be assimilated into God’s covenant people. Out of strife comes peace; out of death comes salvation. It is a picture of God’s election in a way. Great stuff that’s often overlooked.
II. Cursed Among the Gentiles
30 Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have troubled me by making me obnoxious among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites; and since I am few in number, they will gather themselves together against me and kill me. I shall be destroyed, my household and I.”
Jacob directs his anger and disappointment at the two original perpetrators. It was these two who killed without cause and it was they who deceived before doing so. His words to them now will only be reinforced on his deathbed when he gives his final words to them.
In this verse, he uses a term that says he will stink like a bad oder to the Canaanites and Perizzites. This can only lead to trouble and it has been caused by these two sons. And what is troubling him is that because of his small numbers, the local residents will be able to overcome and kill him.
This is the first time that Jacob has spoken in the entire chapter and his words truly are words lacking faith. God has promised his protection and continuance, but he has forgotten this. It may be that he believes God will abandon him because of what has happened.
Whatever he is thinking, it is lacking any faith in the greater promises which were handed down through Abraham and Isaac. And also it is ignoring the promises at both Bethel and Mahanaim. It is, in a way, a picture of Israel as they were scattered among the nations and even now that they are returned to the land, not trusting in God for their protection.
31 But they said, “Should he treat our sister like a harlot?”
In an attempt to justify the unjustifiable, they introduce their defense. “If we hadn’t acted, it would be as if we had sold Dinah as a whore.” This mindset may come from Shechem’s offer of any sized dowry for Dinah, but it would be twisting even that.
He was offering the dowry for her as a wife, not payment for a whore. On top of that were the lies and the wholesale slaughter of those not even involved in the incident. From the human perspective, the entire situation is wreaked with wrongdoing.
But now we need to step back and look at this chapter as a whole and see why it’s included at all. If it’s not telling us a spiritual truth, then it is no different than a Shakespearian tragedy. There must be, and there are truths for us to find if we look closely.
III. Explaining the Dinah Incident
This story is showing us about those who are willing to follow wrong avenues to be a part of God’s kingdom. Several are noted, such as being circumcised and trying to buy entrance into the kingdom – something which is offered without cost.
The actors need to be listed once again. Dinah, means “vindicated” and is a picture of the resurrection found in Christ. She is the daughter of Leah who pictures the law. Shechem comes from words which indicate the wisdom and diligence of a person.
His father Hamor means “he-ass”, a male donkey which is a beast of burden. It gets its name from its reddish color. A donkey is an unclean animal, just as gentiles are considered unclean to the Jews.
They are from the group of people known as Hivites.
This name Hivite may mean “Villagers” but it also could come from a verb which means to prostrate as in worship. In Hebrew it bears an amazing resemblance to the name Eve. It was Eve who was deceived in the Garden of Eden; it is the Hivites who are deceived in this chapter.
The inclusion of their name is certainly tying the two together. In the Garden, the serpent deceived Eve resulting in death, in this account these two sons of Leah do the same, they deceive the Hivites which results in death. The two sons by name are Simeon which means “He who hears” and Levi which means “attached.”
In one way, this chapter’s explanation is that it pictures rejecting the gospel for the sake of legalism. Dinah, picturing the resurrection, which is Christ’s vindication by the Spirit, goes out into the land.
Shechem sees Dinah and takes her. He falls in love with who she is and wants to be united to her in marriage. In order to woo her, it says he “spoke to her heart.” In other words, he intended to get her to love him after the fact, not before the act.
This is the person who gets their faith out of order and suffers for it. Emotions are to be a result of commitment, not a basis for it. If we get this wrong, when the emotions change, there is no support for the commitment. This is the case with Shechem and it is seen again later in the Bible as well.
This is the type of person who sets his emotions on salvation and tries to have a meaningful relationship based on that, but without correct knowledge concerning the matter. When this happens in a person, he invariably does things incorrectly to get what he wants.
Shechem is a son of Hamor the Hivite, a gentile. He wants to be united with Dinah, and so the first thing he does is go to his father and ask him to get her for him. He erred first by sleeping with her before proposing. He now errs by expecting someone else to make the relationship happen.
This is the person who is confused about religion and thinks that it is something which is obtained through family or through some type of deeds. This will lead to others falling into the same pit.
The sons of Jacob picture the people of Israel as they have in previous stories. It’s important to remember here that this story actually happened and rape was involved. This is not, just like all the other pictures, a 1 for 1 account. It is showing a panorama of a spiritual truth realized in the work of Christ.
The overall message is what we’re to see and God is using the real story to show us a spiritual truth. We see several times in the New Testament that when the Jewish people hear that gentiles want to participate in this new life, which came through Jesus’ work, they become upset.
I told you a week ago to read Acts 15 and the book of Galatians and it would help you understand what is going on. Remember, that in the entire account until the end, Jacob never speaks, nor is he consulted. Neither is God mentioned – all the way through.
Shechem wants Dinah in the story; the gentiles want to participate in Christ in the New Testament. The sons of Israel are upset about gentiles wanting what they feel they alone should have. Dinah is theirs to wield as they wish. In the same way, the Jews felt that the resurrection and the vindication is theirs, not for the gentiles.
This attitude is seen in Acts when Peter went to Caesarea to speak to the house of Cornelius. After he did, we read this –
“Now the apostles and brethren who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. 2 And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those of the circumcision contended with him, 3 saying, ‘You went in to uncircumcised men and ate with them!'” Acts 11:1-3
Hamor the father of Shechem spoke on behalf of his son for Dinah. He offered peace between the two clans and a sharing of all the wealth. After this, Shechem offered a dowry of any size in order to get Dinah. This is a marvelous picture of a man named Simon who is found in Acts 8:18-21 –
18And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! 21 You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God.
Hamor and Shechem are trying to deal with the sons of Israel for Dinah when they should have dealt directly with Jacob. They are offering to buy her through dowry. In the same way, Simon thought he could buy the gift of the Spirit from Peter, a son of Israel, rather than going directly to the Lord.
Are you seeing the parallel? Dinah pictures Christ’s vindication in the Spirit. Shechem asked for grace in conjunction with the dowry, but the two are mutually exclusive. One cannot buy grace.
After the offers, came the deceit. Just as Eve was deceived, the Hivites will now be deceived. As it says, “… the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father, and spoke deceitfully.” Their deception was that they said wanted these gentiles to be circumcised as they were.
The pattern is seen in the Jewish people known as Judaizers. They are those who demand that one must obey the Law of Moses and be circumcised in order to be saved. In Acts 15:1, we read this –
“And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, ‘Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.'”
They held salvation up as a carrot in order to deceive them. It is the misuse of the gift of grace in order to bring about the very bondage that they were freed from in the cross of Jesus. It is the greed of religion rather than the gift of life.
This isn’t just a message for the first century only. There are groups to this day by the bowlful who still teach this. Many Messianic groups do so as do many cults and sects. They add in legalism to the grace which is found in Christ – apart from the law.
I know. I encounter them continuously on my videos and posts. They are deceivers and are exactly who is being pictured here in this incident. They promise life and dwelling in harmony, but they only bring strife and death with them.
After the proposal, Shechem went right out and got himself circumcised because he was, as the Bible says, “more honorable that all of the household of his father.” He naively believed that he would get what he wanted. He thought he was pursuing Christ, but instead he was destined for death.
The next thing we saw was Hamor and Shechem meeting with the townspeople at the gates of the city. This is the spot where legal matters and important business is transacted. They, having been deceived, now turned to deceive the rest.
At the gates, the people were told, “Let us take their daughters to us as wives, and let us give them our daughters. 22 Only on this condition will the men consent to dwell with us, to be one people: if every male among us is circumcised as they are circumcised. 23 Will not their livestock, their property, and every animal of theirs be ours? Only let us consent to them, and they will dwell with us.”
As I said at that time, “A person is never more unwilling to see the truth than when he follows someone who is already deceived.” This is the cult mindset, this is religion without reason, and faith without direction. It is trusting that which should never be trusted.
Their deception came in the exact same way that Eve’s deception came – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.
The lust of the flesh was seen in the mentioning of the daughters for the men. The lust of the eyes was seen in Jacob’s wealth, and the pride of life was seen in the boasting in the flesh – the circumcision. “We will be circumcised and we will be a part of the covenant people because of it.”
It caused Eve to fall and it brought low the Hivites as well. They decided to be circumcised because they didn’t check. Abraham’s circumcision wasn’t meant for them then, and it isn’t meant for us now. It was a particular sign for a particular reason which was fulfilled in Christ.
You can almost hear it though – “See all of these great things will be ours and all we need to do is just be circumcised. Such a small thing, right? Just think of all the great stuff that will go along with it though.” But Paul warns us against this in Galatians 6:12, 13 –
12 As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these would compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. 13 For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh.
As you can see both sides are wrong in what happens here. The sons of Israel are wrong in their deception, and the Hivites are wrong in not doing their due diligence. There is no record of speaking to Jacob, nor is there a record of God being asked.
They have failed to follow the blueprint, just as far too many fail to follow the record given in the Bible. They fail to seek Jesus personally. It is the standard operating procedures of cults, charismatic churches, legalistic groups, and even entire societies.
Once the deceit took root
The people partook of the forbidden fruit
And the record states, “Now it came to pass on the third day, when they were in pain, that two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, each took his sword and came boldly upon the city and killed all the males. And they killed Hamor and Shechem his son with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah from Shechem’s house, and went out.”
The third day is when Christ was resurrected. They thought they would obtain Dinah, the vindication of the Spirit, as Jesus did, but instead, while Christ was being resurrected on the third day, they were going to their deaths. They inserted the law where the law was fulfilled. They had rejected Christ.
As Paul writes in Romans, “I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. 10 And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death.” Romans 7:9, 10
Interestingly, Hamor, is mentioned 10 times in this story and his name means, “he-ass” a male donkey. He pictures the gentiles. Under the law, the firstborn donkey was to be redeemed by a lamb or it was to have its neck broken. It was the first for all. Hamor, instead of being redeemed by the Lamb, Jesus, went to his death and all of his followed after him.
You see, every name that’s given, especially one mentioned 10 times in a story – like Hamor, is given to show us the work of Christ and what will result if it is accepted or rejected. Hamor rejected it and received his just due.
Once the slaughter was complete, the other sons of Israel joined in the plunder. The wives and children who should have been united to Christ, were stolen away from Him. This is the state of countless women and children throughout the ages who have followed the head of their family into captivity.
The man is the spiritual head of the family. When he misdirects them, they normally follow him into the same trap of bondage. This is the sadness of not checking what one is told and not verifying the message that is given. Far too often, it affects more than just the one soul.
After the plunder and the spoil taking, Jacob, picturing Jesus, who has allowed man to make his own free will choices without interference, speaks directly to Simeon and Levi – the perpetrators of the crimes. Unlike any of the other sons of Israel, they are both mentioned by name, and they are mentioned twice.
Simeon means, “He who hears.” His name is given because he pictures what is said by Paul in Romans 2 –
“For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law 13 (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified.”
Simeon, “He who hears” was just that, one who heard but did not do. Levi means “Attached.” The sons of Levi were the administrators of law. They were attached to it. Of all the people who should have known the freedom from the law found in Christ, it should have been them. But Levi pictures those who would impose the law on the people seeking grace.
This is the reason why neither was given an inheritance in the land of Canaan, but instead were dispersed in Israel. It is also the reason why Simeon wasn’t blessed by Moses before his death. They are a picture of those who, even to this day, attempt to insert the law where the law doesn’t belong. “You have no inheritance among Me.”
They picture works-based salvation, reintroducing the law, which can only lead to condemnation. To introduce works beyond the work of Christ is to say that the work of Christ isn’t good enough. It is a repeated warning in the New Testament.
Just as they killed the people with their swords, Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 3:6 that the law brings the same effect –
“who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”
It couldn’t be clearer and yet we muddy the waters. Paul is adamant, and time and time again he tells us the same thing –
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. 2 Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. 3 And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. 4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.” Galatians 5:1-4
This is the rebuke of Jacob to Simeon and Levi. It is the dishonoring of God by imposing the law by those who, in fact, break the law which they are imposing. Again, to Romans 2 –
You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? 24 For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” as it is written. Romans 2:24
These are the things being pictured in this tragic story. It really did happen to Dinah, but God has used the details to show us what is even more tragic. Dinah was violated physically, but her life went on. Others are violated spiritually and, like the Hivites of Shechem, they die eternally.
The outward rite could never make the Hivites Israelites, nor can it bring you any closer to Christ. Circumcision means nothing, nor does any other observance of the law – be it a Sabbath day or abstaining from pork. In Christ, the law is fulfilled.
Without the reality of worshipping God in Spirit and in truth, all our external rites mean diddly-doo. Don’t let those, who under the pretense of meticulous scruples, lead you down a path of treachery which is as malicious and as diabolical as any that could be perpetrated against you.
Rest in Christ, trust in Christ, live for Christ and be consumed in your thoughts, life, and actions for Christ. This is the place where heaven’s rewards are to be found. In our Lord, Jesus the Christ. Either His cross was sufficient or we are all doomed. As Paul says,
But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation. Galatians 6:14, 15
Our walk is all about grace. Just go to the last sentence of the Bible and you’ll see this.
If you’ve never come to the point in your life where you can say that you called on this wonderful Savior, please give me just another moment to explain how you can and why it’s so important.
Closing Verse: 14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. Ephesians 2:14-16
Next Week: Genesis 35:1-8 (Arise, Go Up to Bethel) (87th Genesis Sermon) Make sure to read and study those verses.
The Lord has you exactly where He wants you and He has a good plan and a purpose for you. So call on Him and let Him do marvelous things for you and through you.
Dying By the Law or Living in Christ
Now it came to pass on the third day
When they were in pain
That two of the sons of Jacob came their way
Simeon and Levi, their wrath they did not contain
Dinah’s brothers, each took his sword
And came boldly upon the city
And killed all the males, the entire hoard
They killed them all, showing no pity
And they killed Hamor and Shechem his son
With the edge of the sword, in this brutal way
And took Dinah from Shechem’s house when they were done
And went out on that very same day
The sons of Jacob came upon the slain
And plundered there the entire city
Because their sister had been defiled
They took everything, showing no pity
They took the animals, every sheep, ox, and donkey
What was in the city and what was in the field
And all their wealth their actions quite wonky
The wrongness of their ways couldn’t be concealed
All their little ones and their wives they took captive;
And plundered all that was in the houses, really quite adaptive
Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi
“You have troubled me by making me to stink
Among the inhabitants of the land, yes even I
The Canaanites and the Perizzites, will hate me I think
And since I am few in number as you already know
They will gather together against me and kill me as their foe
I shall be destroyed, my household and I, we are at death’s door
But they said, “Should he treat our sister like a whore?”
This story though brutal and filled with deceit
Contains a lesson to which we should pay heed
The work of Jesus is sufficient and complete
So to it we need not add any other deed
He has accomplished all for us, nothing is left undone
By our glorious Lord Jesus, God’s own Son
And so Lord help us to trust in and rest in Him alone
Give us wisdom to pursue Him all of our days
And remind us that His shed blood does for our sin atone
And as we remember we will give you all of our praise
Yes Lord, all majesty and honor belong to You
And so we offer you our praises, only to You they are due
Hallelujah and Amen…