If the Australian classification board was issuing ratings on Genesis then today's passage is clearly an 'R' rated passage. This is a story of rape and revenge and as the last two weeks has shown, that is nothing new. Repeated allegations of rape in Parliament and largescale sexual abuse in Private schools. The bible is a window into our broken world.
This awful story begins with a young girl Dinah, daughter of Jacob, who goes out to visit the women of the land. Dinah, probably 15 years old, would tragically pay a heavy price for her innocent curiosity.
Now Dinah, the daughter Leah had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the women of the land. When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, the ruler of that area, saw her, he took her and raped her. ~Genesis 34:1-2 (NIV)
The name of the rapist is Shechem, he is a prince from one of those nations. He sees vulnerable Dinah and takes advantage of his power, literally it reads
..the prince of the land, saw her, he seized her and lay with her and humiliated her. ~Genesis 34:2 (NASB)
This shameful and degrading rape is viewed as evil. We are told that such a thing should not be done, I know for a number of you this is a painful reminder of how you have been grossly sinned against. Our heart goes out to you and please take up the offer to call Kim or someone you can trust.
If you follow Jesus, any consensual sex outside of marriage violates God purposes, any attempt to arouse another, by touching, sexting, foreplay, oral or anal sex is off limits.
But how much worse when sexual advances are not consensual. No is No whether outside of marriage or inside of marriage. Remember, a drunk or drugged person is not able to give consent and the law will show no mercy.
Dinah was no ordinary women, a daughter of Jacob whom God promised to protect. The promise is that God will curse those who curse his people. But the strange twist is that Shechem falls in love with the woman he rapes
His heart was drawn to Dinah, daughter of Jacob; he loved the young woman and spoke tenderly to her. ~Genesis 34:3 (NIV)
This cruel man forces himself on this young woman and then tries to speak tenderly to her. It rings of the cycle of abuse which swings from rape to romance. Shechem is used to getting what he wants as the favoured son of the ruler, he is constantly indulged. We don’t love our kids if we don’t say No to them, everyone pays the price for bad parenting.
To be fair there is a law given later to Israel, (Deuteronomy 22:28-29) that if a man rapes a woman, he is to marry her. It sounds horrendous but the purpose was for men to assume full responsibility for their sexual sin, to take care of the women they have abused and to protect her from the shame he caused her.
Isn't it good we live in the New Testament.
Some think Shechem is trying to right a wrong but he is a spoilt brat, he doesn’t confess his sin and he still treats Dinah like she is an object
And Shechem said to his father Hamor, “Get me this girl as my wife.” ~Genesis 34:4
Shechem does not know the God of Abraham, he has no sense that every person (male and female) is made in God's image.
But we do friends, the world unloads tons of porn and it objectifies humans, especially women, reducing them to objects.
If you drink from these stagnant pools long enough it feeds a spirit of demandingness. Pressure is put on loved one to engage in unwanted sexual experiences. When they refuse there are threats to withhold affection, they are manipulated by sulking until you get what you want and they even engage in spiritual abuse.
Disgraced evangelist Ravi Zacharius told his victims they should have sex with him because it’s a reward for him doing God's work.
Don’t let your sex life in marriage be driven by porn. We now run porn groups for men and women and it has helped so many be set free. Here is one lady’s story: "This small group of women allowed me to feel safe, and completely open on where I was and how I was struggling. I was no longer alone, and God had graciously provided me with a safe community to finally break down the root of my sins. For the first time in my life, I felt fully liberated to really embrace the beauty I was called for. To lean into the mercy found in Christ, and rid myself of all the guilt and shame the devil had deceived me to believe. Leading me into a more intimate relationship with the only person that should have had a throne in my heart, God."
Shechem's Dad asks Jacob and his Sons for his son to marry Dinah with not a hint of apology for raping Jacob’s daughter, just manipulative promises of land, trade, intermarriage and wealth.
With the promise that they could be ONE, WIN - WIN
Little did they know that God has repeatedly promised that Jacobs family will inherit the land and provide descendants and blessing without the help of one nations in that land. Then Shechem, who has no sense of self control raises the stakes.
Make the price for the bride and the gift I am to bring as great as you like, and I’ll pay whatever you ask me. Only give me the young woman as my wife.” ~Genesis 34:12 (NIV)
He can't even mention her name. Everyone is going to have to pay the price for his sin and greed. His lack of self control is driving this whole story. How often does it happen that one person's manipulation holds a whole community to ransom? If you feel taken advantage of by anyone at church, let us know.
I want to look at the response of Dinah's Father and then Dinah’s brothers. Dinah's father, Jacob, failed to act, his silence is deafening and he does nothing. I wonder, was it in part that Dinah was the daughter of the unloved wife, was Jacob prone to the ugly sin of favouritism.
His sons were furious because Jacob shows no emotion, why is he not angry? Remember: Dinah is held hostage by Shechem.
Jacob’s silence was certainly due to fear, he does not act like a man who has God on his side. First, he exposed his daughter to danger and now he is doing nothing to defend his daughter. I think Jacob was prepared to go ahead with the deal to give his daughter in marriage to her rapist.
Beware of old men who Pursue Peace without Justice. Right now Parliament has been exposed as having a culture that is complicit in sexual abuse. In response the government has come out guarding a very important principle “Innocent until proven guilty” but friends, it’s not the only principle. Power is given to leaders for them to make a way for the powerless to speak up for those who can't speak up for themselves. I'm not saying it’s always easy to know where to land but it must begin by giving a voice to the victims of sexual abuse.
Jacob’s backroom deals seek to cover up the rape of his daughter. Justice demands a response, with no Government to appeal to in the land of Canaan, Jacob’s grandfather, Abraham, went to battle to protect his nephew Lot. Jacob does nothing because he was afraid, don’t let fear stop you from doing what is right. Make sure you speak up.
Jacob has created a vacuum of leadership for his sons to overreact to this sin. Remember: these are young men whose ages are 16-22 years. As someone put it like a cast from Hunger Games, Jacob’s sons take up where he failed to lead. The first reaction from the brothers was exactly right, both shock and anger.
Meanwhile, Jacob’s sons had come in from the fields as soon as they heard what had happened. They were shocked and furious, because Shechem had done an outrageous thing in Israel by sleeping with Jacob’s daughter—a thing that should not be done ~Genesis 34:7 (NIV)
With all the sins that are listed in Genesis and there have been many, it stands out as particularly evil. Shechem had done a disgraceful thing in Israel as the brothers say to their Dad "he treated our sister like a prostitute".
Sometimes we are just not angry enough! Whether its abortion or racism.
But there is an offer on the table, tf the marriage goes ahead then these 2 clans can live together, trade, and intermarry. The sons of Jacob raise one objection, all the men of Shechem must be circumcised, the same organ that was used to rape Dinah will be cut back.
But his sons have another agenda, the real reason for circumcision is to revenge a rape, but Shechem and his Father don’t know that, they are just thrilled that they brokered a deal. But how do you persuade every man in your clan to go through the pain of circumcision?
We can’t get every Australian taking the COVID vaccine, so how do you persuade a whole town of men to get circumcised. Very simple greed, like any good politician, sweeten the deal, they make them an offer they can’t refuse. This marriage will bring wealth and women, proving that stupidity knows no limits.
And the plan seems to work, while the men of Shechem are in pain from the snip in the days before pain killers.
Three days later, while all of them were still in pain, two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, took their swords and attacked the unsuspecting city, killing every male. ~Genesis 34:25 (NIV)
Apparently, the pain after circumcision is at its worst after 3 days.
It was then that Dinah's two blood brothers kill every male including the rapist and his father, they loot the City, they seize the flocks and herds, they carry off the women and children and they take back their sister, Dinah.
This was not justice, this was revenge, that is why the rule of law is so important. The sons of Jacob have way, way, way, over reacted. This is mass slaughter for one rape. I heard on the news how a woman's dog was killed by a burglar. Her response was “Life for Life” did she really want the burglar to die for killing her dog? No sense of proportion.
Robert Zimmerman once wrote It took a stranger to teach me to look into justice beautiful face and to see an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Proportional justice, an eye for an eye to stop matters from escalating.
I was talking to a single parent who just heard that her son was badly bullied that day at school. She said “if I get hold of that kid who did it I will kill him.” Its so easy to over react to injustice, I warned her to not over react or something worse will happen.
Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought trouble on me by making me obnoxious to the Canaanites and Perizzites, the people living in this land. We are few in number, and if they join forces against me and attack me, I and my household will be destroyed.”But they replied, “Should he have treated our sister like a prostitute?” ~Genesis 34:30-31 (NIV)
Jacobs whole life was lived in fear and his fear fed his lies. He was terrified of his brother Esau for 20 years, his fear stopped him from protecting his daughter and now he lives in fear of pay back from other nations. Fear driven by a failure to trust in Gods promises
I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you I will curse ~Genesis 12:3 (NIV)
The people of Shechem found that out, you mess with God's people and you mess with God. This is not to justify what the brothers did and later Jacob issues a curse on his two sons.
“Simeon and Levi are brothers— their swords are weapons of violence.…Cursed be their anger, so fierce, and their fury, so cruel! ~Genesis 49:7 (NIV)
These brothers turned an injustice as an excuse for wicked revenge and they became worse than the man who raped their sister.
I have come to understand that “My anger is worse than the thing I'm angry at.” I remember a counsellor asking me the question
‘What would happen if you said goodbye to angry Ray?’ I then shared that to a guy at church and he said ‘If I say goodbye to angry me (sinful anger) who will protect me in the face of injustice?’
We both knew the answer: The Lord Jesus Christ
One of those promises we trust is that “Vengeance is mine says the Lord I will repay”
It frees us up to not be afraid at home, at work, with friends or at school
In this passage the voice of God and of Dinah are silenced. When we stop listening to God’s word we will stop listening to the cries of those who can’t speak for themselves. Don't be part of the silent majority, act like God is on your side.