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Wednesday, June 12th, 2024
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 34

The Biblical IllustratorThe Biblical Illustrator

Verses 1-5

Genesis 34:1-5

Dinah the daughter of Leah . . . went out to see

Dinah’s inglorious march




SHE WAS CONQUERED. (J. Henry Burn, B. D.)

Dinah’s dishonour

THAT THERE IS GREAT DANGER IN A VAIN CURIOSITY OF SEEING THE WORLD. Dinah was curious to know the ways and customs of the surrounding people. This led to a careless intimacy, which ended in accomplishing her ruin. She ought not to have wandered beyond parental control and supervision, nor disregarded the duty of separation from an idolatrous people, and their manners and habits. “Evil communications corrupt good manners.” The inhabitants of that country were to the family of Jacob what the present world is to the Christian. It is dangerous to the interests of the soul to indulge in the vain curiosity of knowing the evil ways of the world. What is called “ seeing life” may prove, in many cases, to be but tasting death. Familiarity blunts the sense of things sinful, and increases the danger of temptation.

THAT SOME SENTIMENT OF VIRTUE MAY REMAIN IN THOSE ADDICTED TO THE WORST SOCIAL VICES. Shechem, we are told, “loved the damsel, and spake kindly unto the damsel.” He was willing to make honourable amends, as far as could be, by an offer of marriage. In this he was generous and noble, for lust commonly ends in loathing. Amnon abhors Tamar as before he loved her. But this man desires to cover his fault by marriage, and promises low and fidelity. He had many of the vices of the great and powerful, but was not without some remains of virtue. The conduct of this heathen man is a rebuke to many who dwell in Christian lands.

THAT INCREASING TROUBLES MAY FALL TO THE LOT OF GOOD MEN. Jacob now suffered one of the most dreadful calamities that can fall upon a household--the disgrace and ruin of his daughter. When he heard of it he “held his peace,” as if stunned by the blow (Genesis 34:5). (T. H. Leale.)

Dinah’s curiosity

As her mother Leah, so she hath a fault in her eyes, which was curiosity. She will needs see, and be seen; and whilst she doth vainly see, she is seen lustfully. It is not enough for us to look to our own thoughts, except we beware of the provocations of others. If we once wander out of the lists that God hath set us in our callings, there is nothing but danger. Her eyes were guilty of the temptation; only to see is an insufficient r arrant to draw us into places of spiritual hazard. If Shechem had seen her busy at home, his love had been free from outrage; now the lightness of her presence gave encouragement to his inordinate desires. Immodesty of behaviour makes way to lust, and gives life unto wicked hopes. (Bishop Hall.)

The eyes a source of danger

By those windows of the eyes and ears sin and death often enter. See to the cinque ports if ye would keep out the enemy. Shut up the five windows if ye would have the house, the heart, full of light, saith the Arabian proverb. (J. Trapp.)


1. Sad occurrences may be ordered to saints while they sit by God’s altar. Worship is not without trial.

2. Religious care of God misplaced doth not exempt parents and children from sad temptations. Jacob worshipped by Shalem, not at Bethel.

3. Mothers’ sins Providence may hit in daughters’ miscarriages.

4. The children of saints, and specially daughters, may be occasion of great affliction to parents.

5. Wilfulness and wantonness urge on young souls to their own mischief, and grief of parents.

6. Unruly appetites to know the fashions and vain courses of others bring many souls into grievous snares.

7. Vain sights and spectacles in revels and wanton garbs may occasion loss of purity (Genesis 34:1). (G. Hughes, B. D.)


1. Great men’s children are not usually the best; but vile and debauched. So Shechem the son of a prince.

2. Sons of great men are apt to think they may sin by authority; being not restrained.

3. It is a dangerous thing for an innocent damsel to come under the eye of lascivious men.

4. Lustful sight of beauty moveth hearts to take hold of opportunities to enjoy 2:5. Lust holds fast of its prey, will certainly close with it, humble, and afflict it (Genesis 2:2).

6. Lust layeth out the very soul of man upon its prey desired.

7. Unclean love is the usual fruit of violent and injurious lust.

8. Lust will speak to the heart of any whom it may tempt unto unclean enjoyment (Genesis 2:3).

9. Brutish lust cannot deny the parents’ right in ordering children unto marriage.

10. Lust itself will desire God’s ordinance of marriage for its own vile ends (Genesis 2:4). (G. Hughes, B. D.)


1. Sad tidings of children’s miscarriages and miseries may be brought to gracious parents.

2. Reports and hearing of evil, especially in dear children, strikes deep, through ears, to the hearts of parents.

3. Shechem’s violence upon Dinah, or of wicked me-, upon the daughters of the Church, is very sad.

4. Such evils may befall relations while they are honestly employed, and think not of it.

5. Silence in grieving, considering, and bearing such providences, becometh saints.

6. Silence of grieved spirits may well be broken off, when such are present whom they may consult for ease (Genesis 34:5). (G. Hughes, B. D.)

Dinah’s fall

It is a startling announcement; but it contains nothing more than might have been expected. Poor girl, a moth fluttering about a flame! A foolish fish nibbling at the bait! Was she lonely, being the only girl? Did she want to show off some piece of jewellery or dress? Did she long for more admiration, or fascinating society, than she could find at home? Was there a secret drawing to the young men of the place? She went along a path that seemed to her girlish fancy ever so much more attractive than the dull routine of home. She took no heed of the warnings that may have been addressed to her. And it all ended--as it has ended in thousands of cases since--in misery, ruin, and unutterable disgrace. She was kindly received. The world will always give a hearty welcome to those who bear a Christian name. Perhaps there is a sense of relief in feeling that it cannot be so bad after all, since Christians do not hesitate to take part with it. The welcome and “well-done” of worldly men should always put us on our guard. “What evil thing have I done,” said s shrewd observer, “that yonder worldling speaks so well of me?” She fascinated the young prince, and fell. It is the old, old story, which is ever new. On the one hand-rank, and wealth, and unbridled appetite; on the other--beauty, weakness, and dallying with temptation. But to whom was her fall due? To Shechem? Yes. To herself? Yes. But also to Jacob. He must for ever reproach himself for his daughter’s murdered innocence. But of what use were his reproaches, when the deed was done; and the honour of his house was gone; and his name stank among the inhabitants of the land?. Would that some Christian parents, reading these words, might take warning as to the end of a pathway:on which they are encouraging their children to tread! To stay now may save them tears of blood, and years of fruitless agony. (F. B.Meyer, B. A.)

Caution to young people

It is natural to suppose that the younger branches of the family, hearing everything that was going on among the youth of the place, would think it hard if they must not go amongst them. Whether the sons formed acquaintances among the Shechemites, we know not; but Dinah on a certain occasion must needs “go out to see the daughters of the land.” She wished no doubt to be acquainted with them, to see and be seen of them, and to do as they did. It might not be to a ball, nor a card party; but I presume it was to some merrymaking of this kind: and though the daughters of the land were her professed companions, yet the sons of the land must have assembled with them, else how came Shechem there? Young people, if you have any regard for your parents, or for yourselves, beware of such parties! The consequence was what might have been expected. Shechem was the son of the “prince of the country,” and men of rank and opulence are apt to think themselves entitled to do anything which their inclinations prompt them to. The young woman was inexperienced, and unused to company of this kind; she therefore fell an easy prey to the seducer. But could Dinah have gone without the consent or connivance of her parents, at least one of them? We should think she could not. I fear Leah was not clear in this matter. (A. Fuller.)

Caution to parents

If Jacob had not settled at Shechem, Dinah would not have been dishonoured, and the violence of his sons would not have been exhibited. We constantly see Christians getting into deep sorrow and trouble through their own unfaithfulness; and then, instead of judging themselves, they begin to look at circumstances, and to cast upon them the blame. Hew often do we see Christian parents, for instance, in keen anguish of soul about the wildness, unsubduedness, and worldliness of their children; and, all the while, they have mainly to blame themselves for not walking faithfully before God in reference to their family. Thus was it with Jacob. He was on low moral ground at Shechem; and, inasmuch as he lacked that refined sensibility which would have led him to detect the low ground, God, in very faithfulness, used his circumstances to chastise him. “God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap.” This is a principle flowing out of God’s moral government-a principle, from the application of which none can possibly escape; and it is a positive mercy to the children of God that they are obliged to reap the fruits of their errors. It is a mercy to be taught, in any way, the bitterness of departing from, or stopping short of, the living God. We must learn that this is not our rest; for, blessed be God, He would not give us a polluted rest. He would ever have us resting in and with Himself. (C. H. M.)


Inferences hence are various.

1. The most pious and faithful families may have most fearful mischiefs befall them, as Jacob’s had here and elsewhere, and David’s many afterwards. The worst miscarriages, through Satan’s malice, may happen in the best families.

2. The second inference is, such foul miscarriages fall not out in such godly families but usually there is some sin or other therein, which justly vindicates God’s righteousness in permitting such severe judgments to befall them. And it is apparent too in Jacob’s case, when this first miscarriage in his house came upon him. It was now some seven or eight years since the Lord brought him back from Haran or Padanaram, yet had he not all this time thought of paying that vow which he made to God when he was going thither (Genesis 28:20, &c.)

3. The third inference is, all needless gaddings abroad are of dangerous consequence to young people, who are unfit to be wholly at their own finding; especially the weaker sex, which may prove strong enough to provoke, but over-weak to resist a temptation.

4. The fourth inference is, if this mischievous miscarriage happened to Jacob’s house through the indulgence of the mother in too much cockering her dear and only daughter, this sounds a loud alarm to all over-fond mothers, whose over-strong affections will probably bring over-strong afflictions. And where they do love too much, they may possibly grieve too much; as Leah here, who might read her sin writ upon her punishment. (C. Ness.)


Not without reason had Dinah been mentioned previously among the children of Leah (Genesis 30:21); she was intended to be the first cause of her father’s sorrow. An interval of six or eight years elapsed between the departure from Mesopotamia and the event here narrated; Dinah had become a blooming maiden; she had reached that age when Oriental virgins attain the full charm of their beauty. During that tong sojourn in Shechem, she formed friendships with the daughters of the natives, and had entered with them into social intercourse. Was this conduct culpable? Was it an offence deserving punishment? It almost appears that it was regarded as such; for she became both an object of violence and the cause of massacre; and, in Biblical history, there exists no misfortune without corresponding guilt. Dinah had preserved in her mind the vocation of her family; she did not comprehend that a perfect separation was indispensable from idolatrous tribes, whose moral reformation could not be expected, whose pernicious example could only infect the Hebrews, and whose doom was sealed on account of their iniquity. She paid the full penalty of her carelessness. She suffered the fate which Sarah and Rebekah encountered in the land of Pharaoh and of Abimelech; she was seen and taken by the son of the prince; but no angel guarded her innocence; no Divine vision shielded her from disgrace; and she fell a victim to Shechem’s passion. She did not require that immediate protection which her ancestors had enjoyed; she was a maiden, no wife; her father possessed a piece of land within which he was safe; and she belonged to a numerous family well capable of defending their rights. But Shechem was neither licentious nor frivolous; though he had been ensnared by passion, his heart was not debased, and he was ready to make the only reparation which the circumstances permitted; he loved Dinah; his soul clung to her, and he spoke to her heart; he endeavoured to secure her affection, and wished to make her his legitimate wife; he therefore asked his father to treat for him, and to solicit the consent of her family. (M. M.Kalisch, Ph. D.)

Verses 6-31

Genesis 34:6-31

They slew Hamor and Shechem his son with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah out of Shechem’s house

The punishment of Dinah’s dishonour




1. Unjust and cruel. The punishment was far in excess of the fault, and the innocent were made to suffer with the guilty.

2. IT was committed under the hypocritical pretence of religion.

3. It was perilous to the true interests of the kingdom of God (Genesis 34:30). (T. H.Leale.)

Sinful policy

The execution of this project was marked--

1. By the vilest hypocrisy. They pretended to have scruples of conscience about connecting themselves with persons who were uncircumcised.

2. By the grossest profaneness. They knew that if the Shechemites were persuaded to submit to circumcision it would be a mere form, leaving them as to their relation to God just where they were before. They propose that the males should receive the seal of God’s holy covenant, not in order to obtain any spiritual benefit, but solely with a view to carnal gratification.

3. It was conceived in the spirit of the most savage cruelty. What amazing depravity does it argue, first to form such a horrid purpose, and then to cover it with the cloak of religion. (W. Bush.)

Sin begets sin

Alas, how one sin leads to another, and like flames of fire, spreads desolation in every direction! Dissipation leads to seduction; seduction produces wrath; wrath thirsts for revenge; the thirst of revenge has recourse to treachery; treachery issues in murder; and murder is followed by lawless depredation! Were we to trace the history of illicit commerce between the sexes, we should find it, more perhaps than any other sin, terminating in blood. We may read this warning truth not only in the life of David and his family, but in what is constantly occurring in our own times. The murder of the innocent offspring by the hand of the mother, or of the mother by the hand of the seducer; or of the seducer by the hand of a brother, or a supplanted rival--are events which too frequently fail under our notice. Nor is this all, even in the present world. Murder seldom escapes detection: a public execution therefore may be expected to close the tragical process! (A. Fuller.)


1. Sad news of misery on relations calling for help may take men off from their employments.

2. Grief is a duty for evil done to, or by, any of our relations.

3. Anger against sin committed is but due, if it be expressed orderly.

4. Men, though in the Church, are apt to be transported in wrath beyond bounds.

5. Uncleanness acted is the greatest folly that can be expressed Proverbs 7:22).

6. Pollution of any members in the Church of God is an aggravated folly.

7. Jacob’s daughter to be defiled; it is a sad and grievous reproach.

8. The law of God expressly forbids such unclean actings. Therefore are they exceeding sinful in the Church (verse 7). (G. Hughes, B. D.)


1. Sinful indulgent parents cover the foul enormities of rebellious children with fair pretences.

2. Wicked offenders love to be silent as to the confession of their villanies.

3. Lustful love is given out with the very soul, and may continue after violence done, the object abiding.

4. Injurious, violent men may entreat compliance with the afflicted and oppressed ones.

5. Marriage may be desired by wicked adulterers to hide their uncleanness (Genesis 34:8).

6. General overtures of kindness may be made by wicked men of power for their special ends.

7. The world have desired affinity with the Church of God upon design (Genesis 34:9).

8. Worldly powers may court the pilgrim Church to sit down with them for their own advantage.

9. Territories of princes are opened to the sons of the Church to engage them to evil.

10. Free trade, commerce, and possessions, are the baits wherewith worldly powers allure God’s servants unto their lusts.

11. Kingdoms and all will lust, part with all, to enjoy its pleasure (Genesis 34:10). So Herod (Mark 6:22-23). (G. Hughes, B. D.)


1. Lustful men may crouch to such as they have offended to get favour from them.

2. Lust is willing to buy out favour where it hath provoked (Genesis 34:11).

3. Lust maketh men profuse and prodigal to have their pleasure, though to their own undoing.

4. Lustful creatures would buy out their offences, though not confess or bemoan them.

5. Lust agreeth to give men their demands that it may enjoy its own.

6. Lust acquiesceth only in the enjoyment of its desired evil (Genesis 34:12). (G. Hughes, B. D.)


1. Overflowing sorrows may cause wise and good fathers to entrust young children too much with great affairs.

2. Management of such great affairs wants good success usually, because acted by such hands.

3. Brethren under fathers may have a right as to disposing their sisters, wherein they may give counsel.

4. The sons of Jacob may be guileful, though he be plain.

5. Corruption and thoughts of revenge may move the sons of the Church to deal deceitfully (Genesis 34:13).

6. The children of the Church cannot do justly what God forbids them.

7. It is unlawful for Church members to mingle themselves in marriages with God’s enemies (1 Corinthians 7:39).

8. It is a reproach unto the Church to act contrary to God’s ordinances.

9. The sons of the Church may urge God’s truths to wicked purposes (Genesis 34:14).

10. Visible professors in the Church may wickedly offer God’s sacraments to be vilified by men.

11. Church-members may possibly err in annexing God’s seals to men’s covenants.

12. Hypocrisy makes religion a cloak to iniquity.

13. Foolish men may consent to what God forbids for their wicked ends (Genesis 34:15).

14. Marriages between the Church and God’s enemies hypocrites may admit upon design.

15. Wickedness may persuade men of the Church to become one people with the world (Genesis 34:16).

16. Hypocrisy seems resolute to take its course where its conditions are refused.

17. Subtilty suggests men’s denials and departure to make adversaries follow after them (Genesis 34:17). (G. Hughes, B. D.)


1. Sinful lust maketh like father like son.

2. Lust is pleased with the hardest terms for self-enjoyment.

3. Lust makes men yield to their own ruin without deliberation. The greatest evil seemeth good (Genesis 34:18). (G. Hughes, B. D.)


1. Childish fools hasten to the stocks and slaughter, and consider it not.

2. Lust needs no spurs, but hastes all it may to enjoy its pleasure.

3. Lust made honourable in persons, becomes most exemplary to lead others into the snare (Genesis 34:19). (G. Hughes, B. D.)


1. Lustful rulers bring all under them into evils with themselves.

2. Judicatures, or gates of cities, are perverted and seduced by wicked rulers; they are made places to plead for lust.

3. Evil rulers use their tongues and speeches to deceive their people (Genesis 34:20).

4. Lust will commend any by whom it may be gratified, though it find the contrary.

5. Self-seeking princes will persuade people to anything for their own ends.

6. Wicked powers pretend lawful affinity to be made when they aim at sinful lust (Genesis 34:21).

7. Lustful rulers do not only submit to hard conditions themselves, but press them on their people.

8. Lust is content to symbolize in the hardest duty external of religion, to enjoy its desire.

9. Lust desires to unite with any people who gratify its desires (Genesis 34:22).

10. Pretence of gain, and spoil, and advantage, is a fit bait to bring seduced souls to consent to lust.

11. Rulers in sin will never leave until they bring their people to consent with them to evil (Genesis 34:23). (G. Hughes, B. D.)


1. Wicked people easily yield to wicked rulers to gratify their lusts.

2. It is usual for all to follow the example of rulers to sin.

3. Universal consent in evil is permitted where universal destruction is intended (Genesis 34:24). (G. Hughes, B. D.)


1. Treachery and cruelty watch their season exactly to effect their designs.

2. Guileful cruelty hath its method first to weaken men and then to kill them.

3. Anger and revenge ordered under Providence may make two prevail against thousands.

4. Corrupt nature meditates revenge to vindicate injury done unto relations.

5. Reverge goeth armed with instruments of cruelty to execute its designs.

6. Cruelty, uncontrolled by God, goeth out with security and confidence to ruin cities.

7. Bloody revenge spareth none that either have provoked, or may resist it.

8. God sometimes suffers ruin to befall subjects when they comply with rulers’ sins (Genesis 34:25).

9. Exemplary destruction for rapes God orders upon father and son, sometimes even by wicked hands.

10. Ordinances of God abused to men’s base ends, are made means to their own destruction.

11. Revenge is not quiet until it obtain its mark and carry back its desire (Genesis 34:26).

12. A few revengeful spirits are apt to gather many unto them.

13. Bloody minds are covetous as cruel, set upon spoil.

14. Injury and provocation is usually urged by oppressing spoilers as just ground for their actings (Genesis 34:27).

15. Rapine of goods God sometimes orders to avenge ravishing of innocents.

16. Unsatiable is covetous revenge when it comes to spoil at its will (Genesis 34:28).

17. Revenge spareth neither sex nor age under its power.

18. Wealth within doors, as without the sword, takes up when it hath commission (Genesis 34:29). (G. Hughes, B. D.)


1. Gracious parents are justly angry with the sins of ungracious children, and should express it.

2. The chiefest leaders into sin should chiefly be set upon in angry reproof.

3. Sins of wicked children cannot but trouble and vex the spirits of gracious parents.

4. Horrid enormities of sons may bring all vexation and trouble upon parents.

5. Sin, wherever it is, makes an ill savour, a filthy stink.

6. Children’s sins often make their parents stink in the nostrils of men.

7. Notorious crimes in the members of the Church make the best of men stink in the world.

8. Guilt in persons, families, and Church, giveth just cause to fear dangers from God’s hand.

9. Little strength in the arm of flesh is an occasion of fear to saints in respect of great enemies.

10. The combination of the wicked against the Church, provoked by its members, is a just ground for fear.

11. The strokes of the wicked unto death may be terrible unto God’s servants.

12. Destruction, usually sought by the wicked to the whole Church, may terrify the members of it.

13. Fear of danger may arise, under the promise of God’s protection, when souls obey not God (Genesis 34:30).

14. Outrageous spirits, though sons, regard not the honour of parents or God in their returns and replies to them.

15. Revenge seeks to justify outrage by pretence of sin, though men are not called to it.

16. Stupration of innocents hath exemplary returns of judgment from God.

17. Crimes of Church members are recorded for the Church’s instruction (Genesis 34:31). (G. Hughes, B. D.)

The second mischief and miscarriage in Jacob’s house was the massacre made upon the city Shechem, wherein Dinah had been deflowered, by his two sons, Simeon and Levi. This followed the first mischief, as the effect doth the cause, and as the thread doth the needle. This punishment is--

1. Projected.

2. Prosecuted.

3. Executed.

(1) For this intolerable affront done to this honourable family, wherein are considerable

(2) The inducement to; and

(3) the opportunity for some revenge.

(a) The inducement was twofold.

(b) Jacob’s silence (Genesis 34:5). (C. Ness.)

Marrying unbelievers

The Rev. S. Kilpin, of Exeter, had witnessed the awful consequences produced in the Church of Christ, and in families from those who professed to be the disciples of Jesus, forming marriages contrary to the command--“Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers,” “only in the Lord,” &c. As he never shunned to declare the whole counsel of God, this subject was presented to his congregation. The next day, a gentleman, whose name or residence he never knew, called to thank him for the discourse, adding that his state of mind, when he entered Exeter, was most distressing, as he was on the very point of complying with a dreadful temptation which would have embittered his future life. He had been a disciple of Christ, was anxious to consecrate his life to the service of his adorable Muster, and had sought a helpmate to strengthen his hands in serving God. A lady, whom he deemed pious, had accepted his addresses; but, when every customary arrangement was made, she had dishonourably discarded him. His mind was so exceedingly wounded and disgusted, that he had determined to choose a wife who made no profession of religion, and had fixed on another object for his addresses, with every prospect of success, although he had not as yet mentioned his intention to her. He added, “But the providence of God led me, an entire stranger in this city, to your meeting-house. You may suppose that your subject arrested my attention. You appeared to be acquainted with every feeling of my soul. I saw my danger, and perceived the temptation, and the certain ruin of my peace, if the dreadful snare had not been broken. You, sir, under God, have been my deliverer. By the next Sabbath I should have been bound in honour to an enemy of that Jesus whom I adore; for although she is moral and externally correct, yet she knows the Saviour only in name. I could not leave the city in peace until I had sought to make this communication.” They unitedly addressed Him who can deliver, and does deliver His people. Thus, while part of his congregation thought it an unfit subject for the pulpit, at least one person received it as a message from God, by whom it was no doubt sent. (Moral and Religious Anecdotes.)


Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Genesis 34". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tbi/genesis-34.html. 1905-1909. New York.
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