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Bible Commentaries

Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Genesis 34

Verses 1-31

Genesis 34. Shechem’ s Outrage on Dinah Avenged.— It is generally agreed that two sources have been used, but much uncertainty prevails as to their identity and extent, while in view of the priestly phraseology in one of the narratives, it is probable that the compiler has left his mark rather deeply upon it, unless we assign it directly to P, who may have employed an earlier story. According to one story, perhaps J, Shechem seduces Dinah and keeps her in his house. Jacob announces the news to his sons on their return from the field, and they are greatly angered. Shechem offers to accept any financial terms they may impose if only he may marry her. They reply that his uncircumcision is a fatal barrier. He accepts their conditions (not now recorded). Simeon and Levi, however, enter the city, kill him, plunder the house, and take Dinah away. This action arouses Jacob’ s consternation as to the possible consequences, but they retort that Shechem deserved his fate for the outrage to their sister. The other story, whether E or P, represents Dinah as violated by Shechem, but not detained by him. He requests his father, Hamor, to secure her for him as his wife. Hamor, accordingly, offers general intermarriage and liberty to settle and trade. The sons of Jacob deceitfully demand, as a condition of acceptance, the circumcision of all the Shechemite males, then they will become one people with them. He persuades the Shechemites to accept, by enlarging on the advantages of the alliance. But when the inflammation was most acute, the sons of Jacob fell on the disabled Shechemites, killed all the males, and sacked the city. It is commonly assumed that Genesis 49:5-7 also refers to the same event; their excessive vengeance is severely reprobated, and the scattering of the tribes of Simeon and Levi said to be its punishment. Skinner, however, thinks (ICC, p. 516f.) that the habitual character of the tribes is denounced rather than any particular action. The incident is usually interpreted as tribal rather than personal history, Shechem being the city, Hamor the tribe inhabiting it, Simeon and Levi the tribes that conquered it, and their overthrow and dispersion ( Genesis 49:7) due to retaliation by the Canaanites. Dinah may then be a feeble tribe, in danger of subjection to Shechem; or her story may be the account of an actual outrage on a Hebrew maiden ( cf. the parallel story in Cent. B, pp. 318f.) for which the tribes of Simeon and Levi took vengeance. The date of the event is usually placed after the Conquest; some who accept the tribal interpretation take it to be pre-Mosaic, since Joseph held Shechem in the post-Mosaic period, while Simeon and Levi were at that time broken up. (See pp. 65, 248, 258.)

Genesis 34:3 . spake kindly: comforted her (see mg. and cf. Isaiah 40:2) in her distress at what had happened.

Genesis 34:7 . wrought folly: perpetrated a scandalous deed, here and in some other places of unchastity, sometimes of impiety.

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Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Genesis 34". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pfc/genesis-34.html. 1919.