Posts Tagged ‘Dinah’

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Unbelievable! © Ross Cochrane

Genesis 34:14-16 – WHY? UNBELIEVABLE! (Part 4)

Shechem has raped Dinah, Jacob’s daughter. He now wants to marry her as a child bride and has kept her at his house. Surprisingly, Jacob’s sons don’t respond by speaking of the disgrace of raping their young sister! They don’t speak of the disgrace of child kidnapping and child sex slavery! They don’t talk of the disgrace of what they are really thinking! Instead, they talk of Circumcision. “We won’t let you marry her…” they say, “… because you’re not circumcised.”

WHY?!

Why circumcision? … Random. Circumcision is a sign of the covenant given to Abraham. What has this got to do with anything? If you want to talk about a sign why not a sign like a tattoo on the arm or something similar? Or wear colors on their leather jackets. At least those are signs that can be seen. But Circumcision? Really?

Here’s how I understand it. It seems to me that the sign of circumcision has something to do with the promise of Abraham having many descendants, being fruitful and multiplying (see the last post). The sign reaffirms God’s promise right at the very place where the sexual act takes place. It marks the sexual act as set apart for God’s purposes.

God was looking for obedience, but not just obedience. He wanted Abraham’s heart. This was a covenant sign of fruitfulness but also a sign of complete faith in God. The ritual needed to speak of the relationship. The outside sign needed to reflect an inward change of the heart concerning marriage and family and faith.

Romans 2:28-29 (NLT) speaks of what it means to be a Jewish believer. It says “For you are not a true Jew just because you were born of Jewish parents or because you have gone through the ceremony of circumcision. No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by God’s Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people.”

The sign of Circumcision reminds the Jewish male believers that God has authority over them even in the most private aspects of their lives. He designed them and set them apart for sex within the context of their marriages, with their wives alone. It prompts them to remember, “As for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”

So what is going on in Genesis 34? Circumcision for someone like Shechem makes no sense at all! He is not part of the believing community. Shechem and the Hivite community have rejected faith in God. Now Jacob’s sons are also acting as if they have no faith … to the point of blasphemy. They are willing to desecrate a holy covenant ritual in order to amplify the intensity of their revenge?

DISCONNECTION

Twisting things around, Jacob’s sons say, in effect, that Circumcision is the only thing that separates them from the Hivite community. It’s a partial truth designed to achieve evil purposes. Circumcision is not the only reason for Jacob’s family to be separated from the Hivite community. What is? Hivite unbelief and a culture totally opposed to the things of God.

RELIGION AND REVENGE

Jacob’s son’s don’t mention anything about faith in God. Yet they want to use a holy sign of faith in Israel’s community as a means of revenge, the very opposite to the unifying sign of faith it was designed by God to be. Religion used as a means for murder. Nothing has changed. This is terrorism at its religious worst. Deceiving Shechem and themselves, they weave their evil trap further…

“… then we will give you our daughters, and we’ll take your daughters for ourselves,” they say, “We will live among you and become one people.” They have no intention of doing this.But if you don’t agree to be circumcised, we will take her and be on our way.” (Genesis 34:16 NLT). Are they really interested in Dinah or in revenge?

Are they really interested in Dinah or in vengeance?

Jeremiah 9:8 (NLT) mirrors what they are doing. It speaks of the deceit of religious people. “…their tongues shoot lies like poisoned arrows. They speak friendly words to their neighbors while scheming in their heart to kill them.”

The POSB commentary makes an interesting aside. “How many churches and ministers deceive people by leading them to put their trust in the church and its rituals instead of Christ Himself?”

Genesis 34 invites me to reflect upon being honest in how I respond to immorality. I am encouraged not to use religion as a means of manipulation or for indulging in revenge against those with whom I disagree. I am to be honest in expressing my faith and witnessing the change that has occurred in my heart because Christ died for my sins. I am to call for God’s justice in the world, even when depravity is an acceptable way of life in the community. I am to seek God’s heart and God’s promises, not simply fit in with cultural norms for my life and family.

Pastor Ross

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Unbelievable! © by Ross Cochrane

Genesis 34:7-10 – UNBELIEVABLE!

Was it while they were on their way, that anger erupted, and they plotted their plan for vengeance?

“Jacob’s sons had come in from the field as soon as they heard what had happened. They were shocked and furious that their sister had been raped. Shechem had done a disgraceful thing against Jacob’s family, something that should never be done” (Genesis 34:7 NLT).

Jacob sends a messenger to his sons and they come immediately. Shocked and angry, at least they recognize that pedophilia and rape was something that should never be done; a disgrace! Finally, someone actually cares about what happened to Dinah and they are concerned for her personal well-being. Taking it as an offense to them as a family, they identify with her. Where is Jacob in all this?

JACOB, where is your leadership?

Jacob doesn’t say anything! Not a word. He doesn’t seem to take part in any of the proceedings until later, when murder gets in the way of his reputation and standing in the community.

“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).

Why is Dinah still at Shechem’s house? Perhaps if Hamor had brought Dinah back to Jacob, humbly apologized for his son’s criminal actions, spelling out an agreement for terms of discipline, offered a huge amount of compensation and an assurance that he would not tolerate such actions in his community, it might have gone down a little better. Hamor, if only…

HAMOR, what are you thinking?

Hamor speaks nothing of his son’s behavior and instead points to the economic and community benefits of intermarriage. Unbelievable!

A child marriage is Hamor’s way of turning an awkward situation into an equitable arrangement. Wanting to put the whole incident behind him, Hamor just wants to carry out the wishes of his son and get a good trade deal along the way. Win-win, … except for Dinah.

It annoys me that some commentaries actually agree with Hamor’s suggestion! What kind of planet are they on?

Hamor is on-a-roll. He says, “In fact, let’s arrange other marriages, too. You give us your daughters for our sons, and we will give you our daughters for your sons. And you may live among us; the land is open to you! Settle here and trade with us. And feel free to buy property in the area.”  (Genesis 34:9-10)

The economic advantages are significant. But still, not once is any consideration for Dinah taken into account. He wants friendly relations with Jacob, but Dinah’s rape is just a catalyst for his business transactions.

Settle down, trade, be partners with us, assimilate.

Abraham and Isaac had encouraged their children not to intermarry with the Canaanites. Xenophobia? Obviously not. Jacob had settled in the area, bought land, traded. He had set up an altar as a witness to his faith in God. It was not a hatred of other people groups, but a healthy disgust of their wicked cultural and religious influences which would put them in danger of compromising and defiling the heritage of their faith in God.

This story is so unsettling and so is the Christian commentary I have been reading on this chapter of the Bible.

I am left with so many questions. How do I show leadership when I am needed the most? What kind of compromises to my faith am I willing to make that may put the Christian heritage of my family at risk? How much do I water down my sinful attitudes and actions? Am I willing to call out evil for what it is? When it comes to the crunch, do I treasure the welfare of those around me or my own interests?

There is no wisdom here with Jacob, with Hamor and certainly not Shechem. Where is justice, leadership, wisdom and compassion when it is needed? The anger of Jacob’s sons proves later to have no God-given boundaries. 

Perhaps the author paints with a palette of black in Genesis 34 but the canvas is primed with light and gives me opportunity to clearly perceive the contrasts. Genesis 34 invites me to show compassion and love, especially to my own family, to apply wisdom, leadership and responsibility when I see evil, to treat people with respect and show repentance when I have wronged them, to be willing to pay the consequences and make reparation when needed, and not to compromise my faith. Most of all it invites me to ask for God’s wisdom, to include Him in my responses when confronted by those who accept the defiling influences of the world in which we live. Some serious things to think about here.

James 1:21 (NLT) says So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.”

Pastor Ross

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Genesis 34:3-4 – AT RISK

Genesis 34:2-3 speaks of a sexual predator, a pedophile, parading as a prince. “But when the local prince, Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, saw Dinah, he seized her and raped her. But then he fell in love with her, and he tried to win her affection with tender words. He said to his father, Hamor, “Get me this young girl. I want to marry her.” 

Shechem, prince of the Hivites, who has just violated a little girl, Dinah, now demands a child marriage arrangement! Unbelievable! It is still happening in our world so I shouldn’t be so surprised, but I am sickened by this man who I can understand being described as a sleazy creep.

He “fell in love with” a child, … after raping her! He tries “to win her affection with tender words”, … after abusing her! There is no evidence of any kind of consent. How could there be with someone so young?

HAMOR, you should have…

Shechem then commands Hamor, his father, to arrange a marriage, anyway. He orders his father around and Dinah is a commodity of trade. He doesn’t even use her name. It seems his father is willing to overlook his son’s “indiscretions” and give him anything he wants. Does his father know of the rape and do nothing? Is this all Hamor’s fault for letting his son run wild and have no boundaries.

Does his father simply condone Shechem’s behavior? Is sex before marriage and blatant child abuse so rampant in our society that I must simply accept it as normal?

Dinah is not returned home (Genesis 34:26). Is she held captive in his house until the marriage is arranged? What kind of depraved distortion of a marriage is this? Why doesn’t Hamor step in?

The law in Australia says it allows parents to bring up their children according to their own values and beliefs. This means that they have the right to make decisions about how they bring up their children without interference unless there are very good reasons and their child’s well-being is at risk. This all depends on what the law considers to be a risk.

In Australia what is considered a risk for children and parental responsibilities is often being determined by fringe groups whose lobbying voices are loud or by politicians with liberal moral agendas, or by educationalists who seek to impose radical philosophies which are at odds with Biblical values and morality. Nothing has changed.

As a father, Jacob is no example of moral purity either. He has two wives and two concubines. He has chosen to live in a district known for its wickedness. What hope is there for Dinah?

Yet there is a glimmer of faith burning in Jacob’s heart. He has heard from God. Jacob has built an altar to declare his faith in God and no doubt sought to teach his children about God’s promises to him and the faith heritage they have from Abraham’s time to the present. Now he is confronted with a moral dilemma. What will he do? What standards can he employ? What is my gauge?

In 1 John 2:15-16 followers of Christ are told, “Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions.” This is certainly true of Shechem and Hamor, and Hivite society, but John goes on to say, “These are not from the Father, but are from this world.”

Galatians 5:19-25 (NLT) says, “When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, … (the list goes on). Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to His cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.” 

Genesis 34 invites me to reflect upon my own life and attitudes; the heritage and example I am passing down to my children and grandchildren in terms of the Biblical model for relating to women and to my own marriage. I am constantly urged by the Bible to have my thinking re-adjusted and renewed.

Romans 12:1-2 (NLT) says, “… do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

Pastor Ross

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Blame and Excuse – © Ross Cochrane

Genesis 34 – IF ONLY …

Genesis 34:1 says, “One day Dinah, the daughter of Jacob and Leah, went to visit some of the young women who lived in the area.” 

Only one of Jacob’s daughters is ever mentioned in the Bible. Tracing the years from her birth, evidence suggests that Dinah is young, perhaps as young as 7-12 years old.

There is nothing to indicate that she is rebellious, naïve or ignorant as some have suggested. She is a normal little girl who obviously wanted to make friends. Did she leave her home that day without permission from her Mum or Dad? Why didn’t her brothers accompany her? Whatever the reason was for her to be alone that day in the neighborhood, she could not have foreseen what would happen.

It was a dangerous neighborhood. The Hivites were known historically for social and religious customs which cut across God’s purposes. Their cultural norms made them so detestable to God that later he would tell Moses to conquer them and destroy them completely. Racial cleansing? Nothing would cleanse the extent of their sin. This was a people group who were so wicked the wages of their sin was war. Nothing has changed.

MOSES, you should have…

If only Moses had been around. Moses would later say to the Hebrew tribes, You must completely destroy the Hittites, …, just as the Lord your God has commanded you. This will prevent the people of the land from teaching you to imitate their detestable customs in the worship of their gods, which would cause you to sin deeply against the Lord your God.” (Deuteronomy 20:17-18).

The Hivites were to be judged for the nature of their depravity, such was their evil influence. Moses can’t be held to blame for what happened to Dinah. There are certainly consequences for such blatant wickedness, but this evil rears it’s ugly head long before Moses appears on the scene.

Genesis 34:2 speaks of a sexual predator, a pedophile, parading as a prince. “But when the local prince, Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, saw Dinah, he seized her and raped her.”

This is the first recorded rape in the Bible, the first example of pedophilia, carried out by a man with social standing, the local prince of the Hivites.

Yet, strange attitudes of blame and excuse have persisted concerning this event. Calvin, the great theologian intimates that Dinah is the one responsible for her own rape. He writes, “…not less danger hangs over weak virgins at this day, if they go too boldly and eagerly into public assemblies, and excite the passions of youth towards themselves.”

DINAH, you should have…

Many people suggest a cautious approach when it comes to women walking alone, and suggest that if Dinah ignored the danger of walking alone, she was asking for it. It becomes the victims’ responsibility entirely and so to Dinah, they shout…

“Stay safe! – Don’t walk alone, especially at night, ask someone to accompany you, work out the safest route to where you want to go, keep to well-lit streets, avoid parks, be hyper-aware of your environment; all escape routes, all doorways and obstacles. Better still – take a cab, don’t travel on the train, wear clothes to run in, dress as a man, don’t wear flimsy clothing, short skirts or anything that exposes the breasts. Scream “Fire!” if you are attacked.” If only Dinah had been more careful …

Others intimate that Dinah should have carried a sword, responding to violence with violence – “buy a gun or pepper spray, take self-defense classes and walk where you want.” If only Dinah was taught to fight …

Feminists would talk to Dinah about a rape culture. They would say it is not a matter of teaching young women how to avoid rape by not going anywhere on their own. They would declare to educators and parents, “Don’t tell us to restrict our freedom. Tell them not to rape!” N Fitzsimmons says, “The safety of women is not just about women having to always be fearful, and it’s not her fault if she’s attacked. It’s about teaching children from an early age to be respectful of all people. And that means the adults setting an example by always being respectful of all people.” If only Shechem had been taught not to rape Dinah …

Even in between all these views there is no real answer and these are not the insights that can adequately be directed towards a little girl. Was Dinah responsible for being raped? Obviously not! Was she able to defend herself? No! Did she live in a lawless culture who regarded women as commodities for sexual exploitation? Yes! Was she too young to really appreciate the danger? Yes.

IF ONLY…

If only her parents or brothers had been aware of her wandering away that day. If only Moses had been on the scene long before this had happened. If only Jacob and Leah had shown a little more foresight and care for a little girl in the family. If only her brothers had accompanied her that day.

If only, if only, if only! … then this tragic situation could have been averted. Living in regret for what we could have done is living in the “If only’s” and “What if’s”. Who’s to blame? Moses, Dinah, her parents or her brothers? Or all of the above? Who will take responsibility for Shechem’s behavior and shield the perpetrator from blame?

Should we lobby governments for better lighting in the parks, security cameras everywhere, laws to make parents transport their children everywhere, curfews at nightclubs, mass rallies to protest against rapists? Longer jail sentences? Less personal rights?

Should we bubble wrap our children? Cocoon them in cotton wool? Shield them from any of the harsher edges of reality? Never let them walk in the park in case something will happen? Even Jesus said to His disciples, Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16).

Fear of harm and “If only…” and “What if…” mentalities will never be enough to solve the real problem of sin in our world. Oh, yes, let’s do what we can to protect our children, but let’s be aware that they are at best band-aid solutions.

Not legislation or even education could ever be enough to deal with the problem of sin. Yes, I will take measures to protect our children and grandchildren, but I hope not to forget or fail to include the only real answer for this world – the life-changing transformation only Christ can make in a person’s life. Only the message of Christ has the capability to adequately solve the problem of sin. In Romans 1:16 (NLT) Paul says, “For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes …”

Ephesians 2:1-22 (NLT) says, “Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, … All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. … God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. … For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago. … In those days you were living apart from Christ…. You lived in this world without God and without hope. But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to Him through the blood of Christ. For Christ Himself has brought peace to us. …You are members of God’s family.”  

Genesis 34 invites us not to whitewash the tombstone, but know Christ and make Him known, so that resurrection life will arise and true love for God and each other can be extended.

And by the way, when it all comes down to it, only Shechem himself can bear the blame for his perverted and abusive actions.

Something to think about.

Pastor Ross