THURSDAY, AUGUST 31
SCRIPTURE: Genesis 34
The chapter we have before us today is most unusual, traumatic, and telling. It is unusual in that the story it tells is raw. We are repelled by what we read. It is also unusual in that God is not mentioned anywhere in the chapter. (But remember God is not mentioned in the entire book of Esther. The absence of God’s name does not necessarily equate with the absence of God.) The story is traumatic because of how Dinah was treated. It is also traumatic in the way that Simeon and Levi took incredible vengeance on the entire city. And it is telling in that it reveals the sinful nature of all men.
There are many places this story could have taken a different turn. One of those is if Jacob had kept his family on the right path to get to where God told him to go, this would not have happened. Jacob was supposed to be headed back to where he grew up, where his dad still lived. Instead Jacob led his family off to Succoth and eventually Shechem where this happened. When God has directed our path, any detour that we choose to take seldom works out for good. We must always be cognizant of keeping our family in the path God has chosen.
Another place this story could have taken a different turn is if Dinah had traded her carelessness for caution. What I mean by that is if she hadn’t let curiosity about the country and the people that lived there get the better of her, she wouldn’t have been vulnerable to attack. If she really wanted to see what the place and people were like, she could have taken others with her which might have prevented the attack from occurring.
Of course, I am not blaming Dinah for the attack. A woman should never be blamed for being sexually assaulted or attacked by a man. There is never an excuse for that. Never. Schechem was wrong. End of conversation. His desire to marry the girl after assaulting her makes nothing better. In fact, it just makes it worse.
In verse 13, we read where the sons of Jacob were being deceitful in the conversation with Hamor and Schechem. The apple really doesn’t fall too far from the tree. Jacob grew up being a master deceiver and now we see his children going down the same path. I realized that we probably want to give the boys a little leeway because of what happened to their sister. But even in that we find an important lesson. Most of us have some desire for our children to be like us. The problem with that is although we want to see our good characteristics passed down to them, too often we see our flaws and failures in them. We need to be careful about what our children see in us.
As the chapter closes, Jacob is once again terrified that he and his family are going to be destroyed. I know fear is real for those who are afraid. I know that even unfounded fear is real for those who are afraid. But at some point, you have to believe that Jacob is going to figure this deal out. God has made great promises to Jacob. And when God makes a promise, He always fulfills it. Always. Even our greatest enemies cannot thwart those promises.
As we close the chapter, remember that vengeance in our hands never plays out well. Even when we have been obviously wronged, our vengeance is not a good thing. The Bible says vengeance is the Lord’s responsibility. We are always better to leave that with Him.