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Bible Commentaries

Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible

Genesis 34

CHAP. XXXIV.

Dinah is ravished by Shechem, who sueth to marry her. The sons of Jacob consent, on condition of the Shechemites being circumcised: they accept the condition; when Simeon and Levi come armed upon the city, and destroy the inhabitants.

Before Christ about 1739.

Verse 1

Genesis 34:1. And Dinah the daughter of Leah, &c.— See note on Gen 34:18 of the preceding chapter. Though we cannot ascertain the exact time of this fact, it must have been at least seven or eight years after Jacob's return to Canaan, as his sons were grown up to manhood. It has been supposed that Dinah's curiosity to see the daughters of the land was raised, especially by a festival which they were celebrating: Josephus asserts this. See Ant. lib. l. c. 20. The word rendered defiled in Gen 34:2 intimates his violence as well as her dissent, says Bishop Kidder; as in Gen 34:3 his speaking kindly shews his desire not only to comfort her, but to repair, as far as possible, the injury he had done.

REFLECTIONS.—Dinah was young, probably about sixteen, an only daughter, and therefore perhaps too much indulged, and, as is too often the case, proves a great trouble to her parents. She went out to see the daughters of the land at some entertainment, perhaps to learn their fashions and join in their amusements, not without some little vanity to figure as a stranger, and be seen of the sons of the land, as well as to visit the daughters. Note; Young people's vanity is generally their first snare; pleasure then opens the door of temptation, and passion, in some way or other, undoes them. Such was Dinah's case. How dangerous those places, and how pernicious those pleasures, where dance and song warm the passions, and nothing but opportunity and importunity are wanting for the ruin of every thoughtless maid? But though most wicked the deed, he does not, as many do, barely abandon the injured fair; he would repair the offence by marriage, and solicits his father's consent. Note; Though sin cannot be recalled before God, it is our duty to our utmost to make reparation to man. Tidings of it reach afflicted Jacob; he smothers his indignation, and waits to inform his sons of the dishonour done the family. Note; Let not a godly father think his lot hard or singular if such an unhappy step disturbs his family-quiet.

Verse 12

Genesis 34:12. Ask me never so much dowry, &c.— See ch. Genesis 29:11. Thevenot, in his Travels, tells us, that the same custom of men's giving dowries for their wives prevails at this day among the Turks and Persians. See his Travels, book i. c. 41.

Verse 13

Genesis 34:13. The sons of Jacob, &c.— The sons of Jacob means here Simeon and Levi, who were the actors in this affair, as being the uterine brothers of Dinah. Jacob seems to have referred the matter to them, of whose deceitful and hypocritical conduct and design he appears to have been utterly unsuspicious. See Genesis 34:30.

REFLECTIONS.—We have here,

1. The resentment of Jacob's sons; highly provoked at the dishonour done the family, and, like many others, more incensed at the shame than grieved at the sin. They call it folly. Sin deserves that name. What so foolish as to offend the Holy God for a bestial indulgence, and wound not our own souls only, but every friend and relation? And how much more scandalous in a house where religion is professed? O did we know all the miseries of sin before we commit it, which we feel afterwards, nothing could tempt us to it!

2. Hamor's proposal to heal the breach by marriage, with the most generous offer of any dowry. Jacob's sons, under a pretence most specious, but with hearts panting for revenge, consent to the proposal, on condition of the Shechemites being circumcised. They cannot, they say, intermarry with the uncircumcised; that would be a reproach to them. Note; The most bloody designs have been often covered with the cloak of religion; but God seeth and judgeth; hypocrisy with him will be counted the deadliest of crimes.

Verse 18

Genesis 34:18. Their swords pleased Hamor The father, for the love he had to his son, and from his desire to gain him the object of his affection; and Shechem his son, for the great love he had to Dinah. It is a proof that Hamor was well beloved by his people, in that they consented so readily for his sake, and for what appeared to them the public good, to an operation so painful. They were not, however, it is probable, a very numerous or a very wealthy people; if they had, they could not have been so easily destroyed, nor would they have been so readily induced to incorporate with Jacob's family.

But the argument which Hamor uses to persuade his subjects is almost as wrong, as the design of Jacob's sons in their proposal. To profess religion on worldly motives is abominable, and never like to prosper: however, they consent, and without informing themselves of the reasons and design of circumcision, submit to it. Note; How many baptised persons among us, it is to be feared, know as little of the religion they profess as the circumcised Shechemites.

Verse 25

Genesis 34:25. Two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi Though Simeon and Levi only are mentioned, there can be no doubt but their servants accompanied and assisted them in the destruction they wrought. I apprehend that, in Gen 34:27 the sons of Jacob means only Simeon and Levi, as it does not appear that any other of the sons were engaged in this enterprize; nor does Jacob condemn any other than Simeon and Levi, Gen 34:30 and surely we should be slow in involving too many in so guilty a deed. One cannot believe that so just a man as Jacob would suffer the spoil of the city to remain in his family, Genesis 34:28-29. When he knew the case, doubtless he returned it to the widows and orphans, after reproving his sons, as in the following verse, for their perfidy, injustice, and cruelty.

Verse 30

Genesis 34:30. Jacob said, &c.— We can be under no hesitation to condemn this assassination, when we find Jacob himself expressing his abhorrence of it in the strongest terms. And we conceive that no arguments can justify Simeon and Levi, especially since Shechem was desirous of repairing the injury done to Dinah in the most honourable manner possible.

REFLECTIONS.—We have here,

1. The cruel and treacherous murder of the men of Shechem. However just it was in God to punish them for their profane abuse of the seals of his covenant, or perhaps for their connivance at the detention at least of Dinah in Shechem's house, or because they had filled up the measure of their iniquities, yet it takes nothing from the guilt of these murderers. Inflamed with passion, and spurred on by revenge, they sally forth to perpetrate the horrid deed. Though Shechem had made every possible reparation, though restrained by the most solemn engagement, and doubly bound by that holy ordinance they had proposed, no considerations can bind their cursed anger. Hamor and Shechem bleed under their swords. Treacherously surprized, all the male inhabitants of the city fall the victims of their unrelenting cruelty. Not content with the rescue of Dinah, they rush upon the spoil; and, while the men lie weltering in blood, their wives are captives, and their substance devoured.
2. Jacob's displeasure at the deed. They had cast the highest scandal on his religion: the very Canaanite might justly loath it if this was their way. And how great was their danger also, when surrounded by those who might so justly avenge this shocking action. Note; (1.) Wicked children are a bitter grief and reproach to their parents. (2.) Sin and ruin are nearly allied. The prodigal son fears no consequences, but the wiser father trembles for him.

3. Their insolent reply: no acknowledgment of their fault, but rather a reflection on the tameness of their father. Note; They who are violent themselves are ever ready to reproach the gentle as mean-spirited.

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Genesis 34". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tcc/genesis-34.html. 1801-1803.