Genesis 34. Rape and Slaughter.

Key Notes: The rape of Dinah by the Prince of Shechem. Simeon and Levi's revenge. Sexual anarchy. Diseases and consequences.

Many who study Genesis and write it about are inclined to skip over this chapter. The story of the rape of Jacob’s daughter and her brothers’ violent revenge makes us instinctively turn away. Compared to Jacob’s sons, the pagans acted like saints. Is there anything of “teaching, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness” here? (II Tim.3:16). If it were a movie, it would be rated R for sex and violence. But rather than write the chapter out of the canon of Scripture, let us take this bitter pill and get its medicine.

34:1–3. Dinah was Leah’s youngest child. (Gen.30:21). Her father, Jacob, had moved his tents near the Hivite town of Shechem and bought property from Hamor, father of Shechem, the prince of the city. (Gen.33:18–20). (The name of the city and its leader are the same.) Jacob’s move would signal that the Hebrew strangers were peaceful and interested in socializing--even intermarrying--with the local people. Dinah went by herself to Shechem to visit with the Hivite women, probably at the market. Prince Shechem saw her, carried  her off,  and raped her, but did not abandon her. Rather, he fell in love and was tender toward her. Humbled, Dinah did not appear to react against him or try to escape.

34”4–7 His father Hamor went out to meet Jacob in the field and negotiate the marriage of Dinah to Prince Shechem. Jacob said nothing, but when his sons came to the field, they were furious. Folly had been done in Israel. Dinah had been defiled by a Canaanite.

34:8–12 Hamor requested Dinah’s hand in marriage to his son, and Shechem joined in the plea. They offered to join families with the Hebrews, start trading and acquiring property together. Shechem offered to pay whatever they asked for the bride price.

34:13–24 Jacob’s sons said they could not consent to intermarriage unless every male in the town was circumcised. Hamor and Shechem persuaded all the men of the town to be circumcised, with intermarriage and cross-fertilization of cultures as an inducement. Circumcision was practiced by the Egyptians, so the practice would not be entirely strange.

34: 25–31 Three days later, when the men were weakened by their painful penile wounds, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, slaughtered all the males of the town. Then the other brothers joined in, sacking the town, and  enslaving the women and children.

Jacob rebuked Simeon and Levi. His clan was now hated by the Canaanites and Perizzites and their lives were in jeopardy. But their anger was still hot; Dinah had been treated like a prostitute.


In the annals of dirty tricks in war,  the sack of Shechem is unusual; sexual tactics were used to avenge a sexual crime. It was two taking on a town that they deceived with false promises. They never would have prevailed in a fair fight. Their sister was in the palace of the prince (34:26). No frontal attack would rescue her. They were 12 against at least a hundred. They resorted to cunning and lying as the only solution to their objective—to get their sister and get away.  The slaughter and sack of the city was unnecessary and the enslavement of women and children brutal.

This is an severe example of honor-killing, still practiced by tribal peoples today. However, the Law (later) insists that “eye for eye, tooth for tooth” be the standard for vengeance. (Lev.24:17–21). What Simeon and Levi did was vengeance out of bounds. They attacked people who were friendly and naive, courteous (after the fact), and trying to make things right. They had no mercy, cutting down the many innocent with the one guilty. They made themselves hated and will have to leave the country.

The next verse (Gen.35:1) is a shock. It is God’s word to Jacob: “Arise and go to Bethel."  God does not denounce their crimes. And Gen.35:5 goes on…” …as they journeyed, a terror from God fell upon all the cities that were round about them….”

My sources ignore the problem: God seems to condone gross sins.  Why does God not punish the sons of Jacob?   There are several clues to help us deal with this puzzle

Jacob made the mistake of setting up barns and buying land near Shechem.  God did not intervene, but it was obviously not His will.  Jacob and sons separated from the Canaanites by their action. The brothers said “He has wrought folly in Israel….” (Gen.34:7), as if they already thought of themselves as a nation with a name set over against the Canaanites.  
Four hundred years later in the desert, similar words were spoken of Israel: “…lo, a people dwelling alone, and not reckoning itself among the nations.” (Num.23: 9).
“God brings him out of Egypt; he has as it were the horns of the wild ox, he shall eat up the nations his adversaries, and break their bones in pieces, and pierce them through with his arrows.” (Num.24:8)

Moses later said “…the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession, out of all the peoples that are on the face of the earth.” (Deut.56).

Then we must consider the possibility that the sack of Shechem was providential. God makes use of bad conduct to accomplish His purposes. Exhibit A is Joseph in Egypt.
“As for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” (Gen.50:15–21).
The warrior psalm 76:10 says "Surely the wrath of men shall praise Thee; the wrath of men Thou wilt gird upon Thee."

If we are troubled that God should allow war to be used for His purposes, we need only recall the conquest of Canaan under Joshua, the sack of Samaria by the Assyrians (720BC), of Jerusalem by the Babylonians (587BC), and the second sack of Jerusalem by the Romans. (70AD). 

That they committed an atrocity is not beside the point; the brothers were punished in various ways. Reuben and Simeon were essentially disowned by Jacob in his will. On his death-bed he said.

“Simeon and Levi are brothers;
               weapons of violence are their swords.
O my soul,  come not into their council;
                O my spirit, be not joined to their company;
For in their anger they slay men,
                And in their wantonness they hamstring oxen;
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.” (Gen.49:5–7)

The prophecy was carried out. The maps of Israel show territory for Simeon inside Judah, so his tribe was assimilated. l (Josh.’:1). Levi never had land of his own; the priestly clan was devoted to the service of the Tabernacle.

Jacob tricked his brother out of the blessing. Laban tricked Jacob out of his chosen bride. Simeon and Levi tricked Shechem out of existence. This cascade of treachery had to stop. God will put the brothers in isolation in Egypt, where their people would remain for 400 years.

The Hebrews remained distinct through four hundred years of slavery in Egypt although they worshiped the gods of the Egyptians. (Josh.24:14). They did not become absorbed by the Canaanites or the Philistines whose lands they invaded, although they adopted much of their culture and religions. They were not assimilated by the successive invasions by Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks or Romans. Warfare was the required means of their distinctiveness, as it is for nation-states generally. Like out own nation in 1776, Israel was born in blood. The Hebrews remain distinct to this day, while the Canaanites, Jebusites, Gergasities, etc. are long gone.

Another important message that we must take from this chapter is that parents must guard their children. Girls need chaperones more than ever, and boys are vulnerable as well. They must not be allowed  the freedom to play as children without supervision, to go wherever they please and do whatever they want if they are to thrive as adults. Children are not innocent. The streets are dangerous. Cell phones are part of the problem. Not everyone will fare as well as Dinah.

A woman in her doctor’s office mentioned an incidental problem. Her daughter had just turned sixteen and told her mother ”I am sixteen now and I am old enough to have sex with my friends.” Her mother, who was a lawyer,  said she did not know what to say to her daughter.

Where is the sense of outrage at the defiling of our young? How can a single mother tell her small group at 8PM that she does not know where her thirteen-year old daughter is? Since when does the Prom end up in one of the parents’ home with all the dates in pajamas? My grandson had to excuse himself from the invitation. Why is slavery and prostitution re-emerging on the streets of this Country?

See the appendix for a list of sixteen reasons to protect your children from loose social settings and “hookups”-- random sexual activity. To this list we could add a dozen more diseases for men who have sex with men. You Shall not Commit Adultery.”.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases are divided into several groups according to their pathogenic causes: (The source of this list is the  Internet). The information is not pleasant, but it must not be ignored. The advice is total abstinence.

BACTERIAL: (serious, deforming, dangerous)

# Syphilis (Treponema Pallidum);
# Gonorrhea (Neisseria gonorrhoeae);
# Chancroid (Haemophillius ducreyi);
# Chlamydia (Chlamydia trachomatis);
# Donovanosis (Granuloma inguinale);
# Lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) (Chlamydia trachomatis serotypes L1, L2, L3)
# Non gonococcal urethritis (NGU) (Ureaplasma urealyticum or Mycoplasma hominis); etc.

VIRAL: (sometimes fatal;  difficult to treat; increased risk of cancer)

# Cytomegalovirus;
# Hepatitis A, B and C.;
# Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV/AIDS);
# Human Papilloma Virus (HPV);
# Molluscum contagiosum (MC);
# Infectious mononucleosis;
# Herpes / HSV (Herpes simplex virus).

PARASITIC : (embarrassing)

# Pubic Lice or, more popular, "crabs" (Phthirius pubis);
# Scabies (Sarcoptes scabiei); etc.

FUNGAL: # Candidiasis (thrush) (Candida albicans) complicates HIV and can be sexually transmitted but not strictly an STD.

PROTOZOAN (embarrassing)

# Trichomoniasis (Trichomonas vaginalis)

How can I tell if I am infected with an STD?

# Most of the symptoms of STDs can be found either on the genitals or in and around the mouth. Some of the most common STD symptoms are:
# Itching around the vagina and/or discharge from the vagina in women;
# Discharge from the penis for men;
# Pain during sex, when urinating and/or in the pelvic area;
# Sore throats in people who have oral sex; # Pain in the anus for people who have anal sex;
# Chancre--sores (painless red sores) on the genital area, anus, tongue and/or throat;
# A scaly rash on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet;
# Dark urine, loose, light-coloured stools, and yellow eyes and skin;
# Small blisters that turn into scabs on the genital area;
# Swollen glands, fever and body aches; # Unusual infections, unexplained fatigue, night sweats and weight loss; # Soft, flesh-coloured warts around the genital area.

Since symptoms can vary from one person to another, the best way to know for sure whether you are infected or not with an STD is to have a medical examination.

Can STD infection be prevented? Of course! Chastity is not only Bible teaching, it is also practical wisdom.