Genesis 34:8-15 – WHAT?! WHY? UNBELIEVABLE! (Part 3)

Posted: July 24, 2017 in Genesis, Genesis 34
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Unbelievable! © Ross Cochrane

Genesis 34:8-15 – WHAT?! WHY? UNBELIEVABLE! (Part 3)

“Hamor tried to speak with Jacob and his sons. “My son Shechem is truly in love with your daughter,” he said. “Please let him marry her” (Genesis 34:8 NLT).

Shechem, Hamor’s son, the pedophile, kidnapper, and rapist, can see the shocked looks on the faces of Dinah’s brothers. This deal is going south so he steps in and cuts to the chase.

“Please be kind to me, and let me marry her,” he begs, “I will give you whatever you ask. No matter what dowry or gift you demand, I will gladly pay it—just give me the girl as my wife” (Genesis 34:11-12 NLT).

Jacob’s sons reply, “We couldn’t possibly allow this,…  (Genesis 34:14 NLT)

They tell Shechem and his father, “It would be a disgrace for our sister to marry a man like you!” Finally, someone willing to call this a disgrace. This is a slap in the face to someone who is used to getting his own way, the man who is respected in his community.

But where is this conversation going?

Jacob’s sons don’t talk of the disgrace of rape and pedophilia! They don’t talk of the disgrace of child kidnapping! They don’t talk of the disgrace of child marriage! They don’t talk of the disgrace of their own evil thinking! Of all things, they talk of Circumcision. They say “We won’t let you marry her…

“… because you’re not circumcised.”

WHAT?!

“But here is a solution. If every man among you will be circumcised like we are,” (Genesis 34:15 NLT). What are they thinking?

This is a curve ball and a half. Unbelievable! What are they thinking? Why doesn’t Jacob step in?

To get a handle on what is happening here, I time-travelled back to the days of Abraham and realized how ludicrous their proposal is.

Back then, everything is going along smoothly when one day God tells Abraham he will have many descendants. Abraham laughs in amazement. He reminds God that he is 100 years old and Sarah is 90 – improbable, if not impossible, that they would have a child at this age. God is not at all deterred. He says “The covenant will come through the child you have with Sarah. His name will be Isaac”, (which incidentally means “laughter”). When will Sarah conceive and have a child? God says “Next year!”

You can’t get better than this. Abraham can add this to the list of God’s promises – wealth, name change, descendants from whom the world will be blessed (Genesis 12:1-3). Apparently, each generation will have the covenant reaffirmed, forever. And if that wasn’t enough they had a land package thrown in with the deal. It was a permanent covenant concerning this land so nothing Israel or any other nation can do will ever take it from them. God gave it to them, permanently throughout their generations, forever. The promise is still true today and causing quite a bit of trouble.

But then, just when everything sounds great, God throws a curve ball! He chooses a sign for the covenant, one which was a little unusual, to say the least. Sometimes God’s plans are not all that easy to follow. You have to be really sure that God spoke before you act on this one – each male has to be circumcised for generations to come. That was the sign of the Covenant, even for Abraham’s servants. This was the mark of the everlasting covenant. At around about this time I would have been saying to God, “Can you choose a different sign? Please!”

Abram doesn’t waste time. The first thing Abraham does when God has finished speaking is to circumcise Ishmael and every other male around the place, even himself.

I don’t know about you but I would not have liked having this enforced on me. You would have to have a very convincing argument to get me to agree to this as an adult. Abraham obviously had a lot of authority and respect. Still, I wonder how he broke the news to all the males in his household? Ishmael was 13 years old. Did he get circumcised willingly? Nothing is said about this.

Were they forced to do so or given a choice to leave? If you refused, God said you would be “cut off” from the promises to Israel. That could mean exile or even the death penalty. The death penalty would be quite a convincing argument and incentive to agree, I guess.

WHY?!

Why not a tattoo on the arm or something similar? Circumcision, after all, was a hidden sign. Who would see this sign but the person to whom it was given and his marriage partner? This sign is incredibly important (find out why in the next post).

Pastor Ross

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