Bible Commentary

Genesis 34

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

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(Read all of Genesis 34)

Verse 1

[1] And Dinah the daughter of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land.

Dinah was then about fifteen or sixteen years of age when she went out to see the daughters of the land - Probably on some public day. She went to see; yet that was not all, she went to be seen too: she went to see the daughters of the land|, but it may be with some thoughts of the sons of the land too.

Verse 7

[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.

It is called folly in Israel - According to the language of after-times, for Israel was not yet a people, but a family only.

Verse 8

[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.

Hamor communed — That is, talked. He came to treat with Jacob himself, but he turns them over to his sons. And here we have a particular account of the treaty, in which it is a shame to say the Canaanites were more honest than the Israelites.

Verse 18

[18] And their words pleased Hamor, and Shechem Hamor's son.

Hamor and Shechem gave consent themselves to be circumcised. To this perhaps they were moved not only by the strong desire they had to bring about, this match, but by what they might have heard of the sacred and honourable intentions of this sign, in the family of Abraham, which it is probable they had some confused notions of, and of the promises confirmed by it; which made them the more desirous to incorporate with the family of Jacob.

Verse 23

[23] Shall not their cattle and their substance and every beast of theirs be ours? only let us consent unto them, and they will dwell with us.

Shall not their cattle and their substance be ours? — They observed that Jacob's sons were industrious, thriving people, and promised themselves and their neighbours advantage by an alliance with them: it would improve ground and trade, and bring money into their country.

Verse 25

[25] And it came to pass on the third day, when they were sore, that two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah's brethren, took each man his sword, and came upon the city boldly, and slew all the males.

They slew all the males — Nothing can excuse this execrable villainy. It was true Shechem had wrought folly in Israel, in defiling Dinah: but it ought to have been considered how far Dinah herself had been accessary to it. Had Shechem abused her in her mother's tent, it had been another matter; but she went upon his ground, and struck the spark which began the fire. When we are severe upon the sinner, we ought to consider who was the tempter. It was true that Shechem had done ill; but he was endeavouring to atone for it, and was as honest and honourable afterwards as the case would admit. It was true that Shechem had done ill, but what was that to all the Shechemites? Doth one man sin, and must the innocent fall with the guilty? This was barbarous indeed. But that which above all aggravated the cruelty, was the most perfidious treachery that was in it. The Shechemites had submitted to their conditions, and had done that upon which they had promised to become one people with them. Yet they act as sworn enemies to those to whom they were lately become sworn friends, making as light of their covenant as they did of the laws of humanity. And these are the sons of Israel? Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce.

Verse 27

[27] The sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and spoiled the city, because they had defiled their sister.

Tho' Simeon and Levi only were the murderers, yet others of the sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and spoiled the city - And so became accessary to the murder.

Verse 30

[30] And Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, Ye have troubled me to make me to stink among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites: and I being few in number, they shall gather themselves together against me, and slay me; and I shall be destroyed, I and my house.

Ye have troubled me, to make me to stink among the inhabitants of the land — That is, You have rendered my family odious among them. And what could be expected but that the Canaanites, who were numerous and formidable, would confederate against him, and he and his little family would become an easy prey to them? I shall be destroyed, I and my house - Jacob knew indeed that God had promised to preserve his house; but he might justly fear that these vile practices of his children would amount to a forfeiture, and cut off the entail. When sin is in the house, there is reason to fear ruin at the door.

Verse 31

[31] And they said, Should he deal with our sister as with an harlot?

Should he deal with our sister as with an harlot? — No, he should not; but, if he do, Must they be their own avengers? And nothing less than so many lives, and the ruin of a whole city, serve to atone for the abuse.

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