For Best Results, Stick to the Blueprint
Introduction: The 31 verses of chapter 34 will show us the impetuous nature of a man named Shechem. His actions failed to follow the right blueprint in how to handle his relationship with Jacob’s daughter Dinah. In the end, by not following the blueprint, he found only disaster.
The chapter also shows the brutal and unmerciful nature of two of the sons of Jacob. What they did was an offense and can in no way be condoned. I have to be honest though, like many times in the past until I prepared for this sermon, I had no idea why this passage was included.
Yes, it’s an interesting story, as they all are, but without having a purpose for its inclusion, it is just that – an interesting story. It doesn’t really give us anything to work with other than the story itself. What is God telling us? Why this story?
And the commentaries about this chapter didn’t really help with what is being pictured. So as I studied each verse, I was in prayer. Like the story on the two daughters of Lot, I realized that I had completely misunderstood this passage even on a basic level.
Unfortunately for you, until we finish the chapter, you’re not going to see the full picture. The reason is, unlike many other chapters which are divided into smaller sections, this story is a complete unit.
So, if you want to have an understanding of the chapter, you’ll have to stick it out through all 3 sermons. I will do my best to make it interesting each time, but the overall picture is both fascinating and very saddening at the same time.
What this is showing us became rather clear and it troubled me when I realized what it is. But this is the Lord’s word and therefore, I must present what I believe He intends for us to see.
As an advanced clue for you, and maybe to help you think this through as we go, it needs to be noted now that throughout this entire chapter, until the 30th verse, right at the end, Jacob is never quoted as say anything, in any way.
He’s mentioned 12 times as Jacob and once as Israel, but it’s always speaking about him, not quoting him until that 30th verse.
Jacob, as he has thus far, pictures the Lord. And therefore, the Lord is also certainly silent during the process of what this pictures.
And one more thing which is lacking… The Lord is never mentioned in this passage, nor is he prayed to for guidance. It is a passage devoid of what is needed in many ways. If these verses hurt my heart, how much more His…
Text Verse: For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2:8, 9
God has done great things for the people of the world through His Son, our Lord Jesus. What God offers is a gift. It can’t be earned nor can it be purchased. It is something that also comes not by man’s will but by an act of love from the Creator.
When we get things out of order with God, confusion ensues. Along with confusion comes unhappy results as we find ourselves stuck deeper and deeper in a theological quagmire. God makes it simple for us, but we… we muddy the waters.
In everything, there is to be an order and there is a right way and a wrong way to do things. For example, if we want to marry a lady, there is an order in how we handle the process. When we get those things out of order, only trouble can result. This is the way things are in most avenues we take.
If we want to build a house, we don’t build a roof before we lay the foundation. Instead, we lay the foundation, put up the walls, and then put on a roof. During the building, we make sure we’ve put in the electric wires, the plumbing, and the other necessary things, each in order.
God’s gift is just that, it is a gift. We need to make sure we receive it and then work on the relationship, not the other way around. In order to be saved, in order to build a house, or in order to marry a beautiful young lady, we need to follow the proper plan and use the right blueprint.
The Bible tells us how to be saved. The Bible shows us about the house that God is building. And the Bible gives us right instruction on how to handle relationships between men and women interested in getting married, or staying married. All of these are found in God’s word and so… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.
I. Shechem’s Love for Dinah
The story we’re about to look at is not a one-for-one comparison of what is being pictured. These pictures never are or what is told would simply say what is intended. Rather, God is using real events that happened to show us spiritual truths, and so we have to infer things.
When a young girl has physical contact with a man, it obviously doesn’t translate directly into the spiritual realm, but the outpouring of the love because of the act does. We need to remind ourselves of this as we go through the verses and when we see the overall picture of what is being presented.
1 Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land.
Dinah is the only recorded daughter of Jacob, but it’s an error to say she’s the only daughter. Elsewhere, the Bible mentions his daughters in the plural and so it’s likely that he had more. The sons are recorded because the name and inheritance travels through the males.
Dinah alone is recorded, certainly because the events of this chapter and what they ultimately picture. Here in the first verse, it notes that she is the daughter of Leah. Leah, as we have seen since her introduction, pictures the Old Testament law. Dinah’s name means “Vindicated.”
These pictures continue in this passage. In Genesis 30, Leah, who pictures the law, had her final three recorded children. Issachar, Zebulun, and Dinah. Each of them pictured the final workings of Christ as He fulfilled the law for us. Issachar means “He is wages.” Zebulun means “Glorious dwelling place.” And Dinah as noted means “Vindicated.”
Paul tells us the fulfillment of her name in 1 Timothy 3:16 – “Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great: He appeared in the flesh, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.”
Jesus Christ prevailed over the law, He is our wages (Issachar) unto eternal life, He entered the glorious dwelling place (Zebulun) with His own blood, and He was vindicated (Dinah) by the Spirit – the proof is the resurrection.
The law was fulfilled and New Testament grace, pictured by Rachel could now be bestowed upon the people of the world. This is something we need to remember in the chapter ahead.
This girl, Dinah, is probably about 13 right now, and at the most no more than 15. Although this is considered young by our standards, the Jewish commentators of a later period fixed the earliest age of marriage for a female at 12 years and 1 day.
We can figure her age because she was born right around the same time as Joseph. Joseph will be 17 when he is sold by his brothers, which is seen in Genesis 37:2. So that means that Jacob has been living in this area and the place he came from, Sukkoth, for about six or seven years.
Here in this verse, it says that she “went out to see the daughters of the land.” The reason isn’t given, but the Jewish historian Josephus says that it was because it was a time of festival in the land and so she went out to see the finery of the women of the country.
If it is a festival time, then the ladies would be wearing their best outfits. Being a curious young lady, as most young ladies are, she took the opportunity to see the newest fashions. TV hadn’t been invented yet and so she had no choice except to go see for herself.
A lot of commentators find fault here because such a young lady is out alone, but this is no less common in today’s world and elsewhere in the Bible as well. After having lived in the area for some amount of time, the family would know the level of safety and would have known how to act concerning this.
We can’t find any real fault here. But the Geneva Bible still gives us a good thought on the matter – “This example teaches us that too much liberty is not to be given to youth.” I have to agree, having been that age myself and knowing all the things I did then, I think it would be good to keep youth locked up until at least 25 or 30.
2 And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her and lay with her, and violated her.
As has happened far too often in human history, what shouldn’t have been done has happened. Shechem who is the son of Hamor, the ruler of the surrounding area, saw what wasn’t his, took it, and brought about what will be a heap of trouble.
Here in this verse Hamor is identified as a Hivite. Way back in Genesis 10, the Hivite is identified as a son of Canaan, who is the son of Ham. Canaan was the one cursed by Noah when Ham did something perverse to his father Noah. These would be a gentile people as opposed to the Hebrews in Jacob’s clan.
I don’t want to go too far off base and introduce things that aren’t true, but one commentator, Pirke Eliezer says that Dinah in fact got pregnant because of what happened and that child was eventually taken to Egypt and was brought up by Potiphera’s wife as her daughter Asenath.
Asenath, eventually will become Joseph’s wife and bear two sons – Ephraim and Manasseh who will be included in the sons and tribes of Israel. The name Asenath is Egyptian, but if the story is true, it very well may have been adapted from a Hebrew word – ason.
Ason is a word used prior to and after the Egyptian years and it means mischief, evil, or harm. And this is exactly what occurred in order for Dinah to have born a child. Like I said, I don’t want you to think this is true, but it does reveal a pattern which makes sense.
Because certain names are given, I will explain their meaning here. We need to understand them to know later what is being pictured. The name Shechem comes from a verb which means to “rise early” and a noun which means “shoulder.” The two words indicate the wisdom and diligence of a person.
Shechem’s 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. So maybe this clue will help you think this chapter through.
Donkeys are beasts of burden, they have value, and under mosaic law the firstborn had to be redeemed by a clean animal – a lamb – or they were to have their neck broken. (Exodus 13:13)
Finally, Hamor is noted as a Hivite. The term Hivite probably means “villager.” It is related to the noun meaning village and the verb which means to prostrate oneself, or worship. These three names are given to connect us to Dinah and what will happen.
3 His soul was strongly attracted to Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the young woman and spoke kindly to the young woman.
Shechem was the son of the ruler and probably felt that he had the right to do what he wished. He saw a beautiful young lady and he took her. Whether he felt anything more than a passing fancy is unknown, but after he had been with her, he felt a strong attraction.
The Bible notes that he loved her and so he spoke kindly to the young woman. Every commentator of this verse notes the same thing. The original translation says that Shechem spoke to the heart of Dinah – in Hebrew v’daber al lev.
In other words, it seems to imply that he truly loved her and wanted her to love him. But it also seems to imply that he needed to do this because what he did to her was forced. He speaking to her heart was intended to get her to love him after the fact, not before the act.
In the fickleness of human relations, these things go wrong more often than they go right. Sometimes we do what’s wrong and then work to make it right, and sometimes we do what’s right and then turn around and make it wrong. This is because we put emotions above commitment.
Invariably, when we do this, we get it wrong. 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.
4 So Shechem spoke to his father Hamor, saying, “Get me this young woman as a wife.”
What this is implying is that he was looking to his father to get him out of any mess he’d gotten into and to use his authority to arrange a marriage between them. Several commentators note that this shows that even at early times and among pagans, it was right to get parent’s consent before getting married – both sets of parents.
That’s a pretty big leap for this one verse and it ignores the pre-marital sex which was forced on Dinah by Shechem. As you can see, if you have something in your head already because of your cultural surroundings, or if you hear something from an authority, then you’re more likely to believe it.
But both are, as I tell you every chance I get, the wrong way to approach the Bible. You leave what you already believe behind and you disregard commentaries until you have a reason to accept them. Shechem forced Dinah and now he is trying to get out of it because he has fallen in love with her and doesn’t want to lose her.
II. Hamor’s Offer
5 And Jacob heard that he had defiled Dinah his daughter.
There’s no note of how Jacob heard. It could have been from Dinah personally, but later it says that the brothers will come and take her from Shechem’s house, so maybe she never left there after she was violated. It could be one of Dinah’s friends found out and told him.
Or it could be that Shechem’s father came over and told him and waited around for the family to gather together to hold counsel. One way or another he found out and kept calm. Were this me, I would have flown off the handle, but Jacob was restrained.
5 (con’t) Now his sons were with his livestock in the field; so Jacob held his peace until they came.
If Dinah is about 13, that would make the oldest son Reuben about 19, give or take. If you go to Israel today, you can see really young children, no more than 15, tending to flocks in the middle of nowhere. They start early and it is as common as cucumbers.
By now all of the boys in the family are old enough to tend to flocks because Joseph is right around Dinah’s age. This is their job as shepherds and they are busy in the field’s attending to their duties. Jacob isn’t recorded as saying a word or showing any anger.
6 Then Hamor the father of Shechem went out to Jacob to speak with him.
If Hamor was the one to tell Jacob what happened, then Jacob probably told him he’d talk to the boys whenever they came home and then he’d call him. Because Jacob has four wives, it would be right to call the brothers of Dinah who were born to Leah and at least talk to them.
This would include Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun. Probably after such a meeting, then they called Hamor, Shechem’s father, to meet again and come to a decision in everyone’s presence.
7 And the sons of Jacob came in from the field when they heard it;
Apparently, there was no need to wait for them to return on their own timing. Someone sent a message to them in the field and as soon as they heard the news, they came in directly, probably stewing all the way home over what happened.
7 (con’t) and the men were grieved and very angry, because he had done a disgraceful thing in Israel by lying with Jacob’s daughter, a thing which ought not to be done.
After stewing all the way home, it says they were grieved and very angry. There is a time for anger, but in the process of anger, we need to step back and make sound judgments. It’s hard to disconnect the two, but when we let our anger take over, the battle – whatever battle – is already lost. Such will be the case here.
This is the fourth time the name Israel has been mentioned in the Bible, but it is the very first time it’s been used in the collective sense of the family of Jacob who is Israel and thus the people of Israel. In Hebrew the term used is b’Yisrael. Albert Barnes finds the translation “in Israel” hard to accept. He says –
“The land, afterwards generally called Israel, was not as yet so named; and the sons of Jacob were neither called Israel, Israelites nor Jews, till long after this. How then can it be said that Shechem had wrought folly in Israel?”
In order to resolve this, he says that b’Yisrael should be translated “against” Israel, not “in” Israel. Both Israel and Jacob are mentioned in the sentence and so he says it’s indicating an offense against God, and so Israel is named, and against Jacob as a father, and so that name is used.
His idea, “against Israel” is possible, but this isn’t the intent at all. It is the sons who are angry in this verse. They carry the offense, not for their father, but for themselves. The offense is against the family, not just the man. b’Yisrael then is a standing phrase for the whole family, and thus the people, Israel. Albert Barnes, I believe, got this one wrong.
This term b’Yisrael will be used from this verse forward in connection with the unity of the people and family who come from Israel. Offenses may come from without or within the family, but the offenses are against the name and integrity of this special and select group of people formed by God for His purposes.
And so the entire term nebalah asah b’Yisrael is used here – “a disgraceful thing in Israel.” Nebalah is the word translated as “disgraceful act.” In Deuteronomy 22, it is used to identify a woman who was found to not be a virgin on her wedding night.
In Judges, it’s used to describe one of the most noted transgressions in Israel’s history when a man named Aachen took an accursed thing into his home that should have been destroyed as an act of devotion to God.
It is also used by Abigail, the future wife of King David, to describe her husband Nabal. She made a play on his name to indicate the type of man he was Nabal shemo u’nebalah immow – “Nabal is his name and folly is with him.”
When we read Shakespeare, we appreciate it as much for its style as its content. The same is true with Hebrew. It is tragic how much beauty is lost in translations, but believe it or not, I believe some things are actually gained in translation if it is done properly.
This is the wonder of God’s word. We can learn from it by understanding it in any of the languages that He created for us. Each will certainly carry something special to give us insights into His precious heart. Keep reading, keep learning, keep loving this precious word.
8 But Hamor spoke with them, saying, “The soul of my son Shechem longs for your daughter. Please give her to him as a wife.
This goes back to verse 4 which said, “So Shechem spoke to his father Hamor, saying, “Get me this young woman as a wife.” He could clearly see that his son was completely smitten with Dinah and so here he is asking in good faith for this to be worked out in a favorable way.
The implication is that even if he did something wrong, he’s willing to make it right and he’s doing it in love. She won’t just be vindicated, as her name Dinah implies, but she will be cared for in the process.
9 And make marriages with us; give your daughters to us, and take our daughters to yourselves.
In order to get the sons of Jacob to become more amenable to the proposal, he brings in a long standing agreement. The first part of which is that marriages would be welcome between them. Most, if not all, of the sons are neither married nor have children.
And yet he says that the giving of daughters between the two parties would be welcome. This tells us that Jacob does in fact have other daughters. As they have children, then their children would inter-marry and become one united group of people.
This might not sit well with Jacob. Abraham ensured that his servant got a bride for Isaac from his home and family, not from Canaan. Isaac and Rebekah in turn were unhappy with Esau’s Canaanite wives and Jacob was sent to get a wife from the family tribe as well.
However, there are now 11 sons, daughters, and servants in Jacob’s home. Things could no longer progress as they had in the past and all of this would probably be on Jacob’s mind. And as a demonstration of this, eventually Canaanites will marry into the family. Two noted Canaanite women – Tamar and Rahab – will both become ancestors of Jesus.
10 So you shall dwell with us, and the land shall be before you. Dwell and trade in it, and acquire possessions for yourselves in it.”
Hamor’s talking is the fanciful dream which will never happen, but his intent is good and his desire for his son’s happiness is evident. Every word he’s spoken has been one which desires peace and harmony between the two parties. He cannot change what has happened, but he can ensure that the future will be different.
He’s offered everything as if they were family – daughters, the land, trading, and livelihood. Everything necessary to be established and prosper in a land is made available to Jacob’s clan.
III. A Dowry is Offered
11 Then Shechem said to her father and her brothers, “Let me find favor in your eyes, and whatever you say to me I will give.
The father finished his petition and it included everything one would expect between members of a family united. But now the offer of a husband for a wife has be made. Shechem’s words are directed to the father who has ultimate say and to the brothers who were both offended by his actions and who have the right of input concerning their sister.
He says, let me find favor, or grace, in your eyes. The word is khen and it is the same word, for example, that speaks of God’s favor on Noah in Genesis 6:8 – “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” Where there could be wrath, Shechem asks for reconciliation.
He also adds in that he will meet whatever their demand is for a dowry. However, by offering it after the fact, his brothers will take it in a completely different way than he intends. He’s violated their sister and he’s hoping that payment will appease them.
In essence, and as we’ll see in the very last verse of the chapter, to them it would be as if they sold her as a whore. The impetuous act of violating her and the words he has used in an attempt to pacify the brothers will carry a high price. Grace is the last thing he will find. However, the lack of grace by the brothers will cost them too.
Ecclesiastes 7:9 says this – “Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, For anger rests in the bosom of fools.”
12 Ask me ever so much dowry and gift, and I will give according to what you say to me; but give me the young woman as a wife.”
In his zeal to have Dinah, Shechem tells them that whatever bride-price they asked, he would be willing to pay it. He could probably see on their faces that they were still unhappy, even after the father’s offer and he was willing to add any amount to it.
Without going through all the details of what these 12 verses picture, let’s review a few things for you to think about. When we go through the next sermons, keep thinking about them and how they all fit into New Testament theology concerning our relationship with Christ.
Dinah, means “vindicated” and was used to picture the power of the Spirit as evidenced by the Lord’s resurrection. She is the daughter of Leah who pictures the Law. Hamor and Shechem are gentiles who are looking to become united to the family of Jacob through marriage.
Hamor has offered the two clans be united and Shechem has offered to pay for the girl he has experienced and now wants as his own. Next week we’ll continue through this chapter and see new conditions brought in by the sons of Jacob.
Remember as we go on that Jacob has said nothing yet, nor will he until the account is over. Also, the Lord hasn’t been invoked by name or in prayer during the account as well. We’ll see where it all leads in the sermons ahead.
Before we leave today though, as I always do, I want to make at least one petition with clarity instead of in the veiled pictures we’re looking at. I’d like just a couple more minutes to talk to you about Jesus – why He came, why it’s truly important to you, and how you too can be a part of His family and reconciled to God through Him.
Closing Verse: 19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. Ephesians 2:19, 20
Next Week: Genesis 34:13-24 (Blueprint? We Don’t Need No Blueprint!) – 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.
Not Following the Blueprint
Now Dinah the daughter of Leah
Whom to Jacob she had borne
Went out to see the daughters of the land
Maybe to see the fashions that they had worn
And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite
Prince of the country, saw her
He took her and lay with her, doing what was not right
He violated her, something that would bring trouble for sure
His soul was strongly attracted to Dinah
For the daughter of Jacob he yearned
And he loved the young woman
And spoke kindly to her, as his love burned
So Shechem spoke to his father Hamor, saying,
“Get me this young woman as a wife.” For this I am praying
And Jacob heard that he had defiled Dinah his daughter
Now his sons were with his livestock in the field
So Jacob held his peace until they came
Then together the matter would be revealed
Then Hamor the father of Shechem
Went out to Jacob to speak with him
And the sons of Jacob came in from the field
When they heard it, their attitude was quite grim
And the men were grieved and very angry
Because he had done a disgraceful thing in Israel
By lying with Jacob’s daughter
A thing which ought not to be done, as you can tell
But Hamor spoke with them, saying,
“The soul of my son Shechem for your daughter longs
Please give her to him as a wife
Instead of anger, let there be wedding songs
And make marriages with us
Give your daughters to us as well
And take our daughters to yourselves
Let there be not just one wedding bell
So you shall dwell here along with us
And the land shall be open before you
Dwell and trade in it, you shall do thus
And acquire possessions for yourselves – this you can do
Then Shechem said to her father and her brothers
“Let me find favor in your eyes
And whatever you say to me I will give
She to me is the greatest prize
Ask me ever so much dowry and gift
And I will give according to what you say to me
But give me the young woman as a wife
I love her deeply, even more so, as you can plainly see
There are right ways and wrong ways
To do the things we do in life
Following the blueprint all our days
Will keep us from unhappiness and from strife
In our relationship to God we have been given a plan
It is our guide and our help to know Him better
It is the word of God a gift bestowed upon man
So let us cherish its words, and even each letter
The book as a whole tells us about our Lord
There we learn of our Savior, in His holy word
And so let us read it and follow it all of our days
Learning to love Him and to shower Him with all our praise
Hallelujah and Amen…