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Bible Commentaries

Matthew Poole's English Annotations
on the Holy Bible
Genesis 34

 

 

Verse 1

GENESIS CHAPTER 34

Dinah going forth to see the daughters of the country, is abused and defiled by Shechem, son of Hamor, Genesis 34:1,2; who loves her, Genesis 34:3; desires to marry her, Genesis 34:4. Jacob hears it, Genesis 34:5. Hamor treats with Jacob and his sons, Genesis 34:6-12. They answered him deceitfullly, making a condition that all the males of the Shechemites should be circumcised, Genesis 34:13-17. They and their citizens consent to it, Genesis 34:18-23; are circumcised, and, when sore, surprised and murdered by Simeon and Levi; the city is plundered by Jacob’s sons; the women and children are carried away captive, Genesis 34:24-29. Jacob is exceedingly troubled and afraid, Genesis 34:30. They justify themselves, Genesis 34:31.

cir. 1732 From her father’s house into the city, out of curiosity, there being then, as Josephus reports, a great concourse of people to a feast. Thus she put herself out of her father’s protection, and merely out of a vain humour exposed both herself and others to temptation; which was the worse, because it was amongst them that had no fear of God to restrain them from the most enormous crimes. She was now fourteen or fifteen years old.


Verse 3

Perceiving her to be exceedingly enraged and perplexed at this horrid violence, he endeavours to appease and sweeten her, and to get her consent to marry him.


Verse 4

He desires both his father’s consent and assistance herein.


Verse 5

Being unable to punish the delinquent, and not knowing what to do, he waits for his sons’ coming and advice.


Verse 7

Because he had wrought folly; that is, wickedness; which howsoever vain men many times esteem their wisdom, by the sentence of the all-wise God is accounted and commonly in Scripture called folly, as Deuteronomy 22:21 Joshua 7:15 Jude 19:23 20:6, &c.

In Israel, or, against Israel; either,

1. Against the person, and in or against the family of Israel, a person near and dear to God, and highly honoured by him, and in covenant with God; who therefore esteems the injuries done to Israel as if they were done to himself. See Genesis 12:3 Exodus 23:22 Zechariah 2:8. Or,

2. In or against the church of God, which then was in a manner confined to that family, and which is oft called by the name of Israel. See Deuteronomy 22:21 Joshua 7:15. And Moses may here vary the phrase from what was used in Jacob’s time to what was usual in his time, the sense being in both the same, and therefore not altered by such a change.

Which thing ought not to be done; Heb. shall not be done, i.e. should not, &c. But in the Hebrew language words of the future time oft signify duty and decency, as Malachi 1:6 2:7.


Verse 8

Hamor communed with them; with Jacob’s sons, to whom Jacob committed the business, being himself oppressed with shame and grief, and fear for his daughter.

Your daughter, the daughter of your family; or he thus speaketh to her brothers, because they transacted all in their father’s name.


Verse 10

Before you, i.e. in your power, to dwell where you please, and to have the same rights and privileges in it which we enjoy. See Genesis 20:15.

Get you possessions therein; or, take possession in it, i.e. in any vacant part of it; use it for pasture or tillage, as you think good, and take the benefit to yourselves.


Verse 12

Dowry to her for her portion, according to the ancient custom of men’s buying their wives; of which see Exodus 22:17; and

gift to you, either for reparation of the past injury, or in testimony of my respect to you, and desire of her, as Genesis 24:53.


Verse 13

Deceitfully; pretending and promising marriages with them upon that condition which they never intended.


Verse 14

There was no such law yet in force, as the examples of Isaac and Jacob show, who married the daughters of uncircumcised persons; and therefore they do not here reject it as simply unlawful, but only as dishonourable and reproachful.


Verse 20

The gate of their city, the place where all public affairs were debated and concluded. See Poole on "Genesis 22:17"; see Poole on "Genesis 23:10".


Verse 23

Shall not their substance be ours? Either for our use and benefit in the way of commerce and trade; or because they will descend to the issue of our children as well as theirs; or because we being more numerous and potent than they, can easily overrule them, and when we think meet, dispose all things to our own advantage. Thus they cover their private design with the specious show of public good.


Verse 24

They yielded to circumcision, partly in compliance with their young prince, whom they either loved or feared; and partly for the prospect of their own advantage, for which men are frequently willing to expose themselves to great pains and hazards.

All that went out of the gate of his city; all the citizens that went out of the gate, & c., or came in at the gate, as they are described Genesis 23:10 Jeremiah 17:20. For when the chief persons had consented, they could easily persuade or overrule others to comply with them.


Verse 25

On the third day, when the pain and grief of wounds is the greatest, as physicians note,

when they were sore, and therefore not well able to defend themselves; for circumcision caused great pain in children, which was the ground of that exclamation, Exodus 4:25, much more in grown men. See Joshua 5:8.

Simeon and Levi: these two only are mentioned, because they were authors of the counsel, and conductors of the rest in the execution; but it is probable, from Genesis 34:27, that most of their brethren were confederate with them, and that they had a considerable number of their servants with them, who would be ready enough to revenge their masters’ quarrel, and to punish so great a villany; but all that was done is justly ascribed to them two, as it is common for all writers to say this or that was done by such a captain or general, when in truth it was done by his soldiers.

Dinah’s brethren; so they were both by the father and mother, which made them more forward and zealous than the rest.

All the males; such of them as were grown up, by comparing Genesis 34:29, for these, or some of them, seem to have been the abettors of the injury against their sister and family. Their sin in this act was manifold; that they did it without sufficient authority, and against their father’s mind, as appears from Genesis 34:30, and Genesis 49:6, which they well knew; and without all bounds, rashly, unjustly, and cruelly punished the innocent and the guilty together, and ushered in this fact with horrible deceit and lying, and that under pretence of friendship and show of religion.


Verse 27

They, i.e. one of them, as ofttimes that which is done by one man is imputed to the whole body. See Joshua 7:1,11,12 22:20 Matthew 2:20. Or they impute Shechem’s fact to all, either invidiously and cunningly to take off from themselves the reproach of this cruel action; or because they made themselves guilty of it, either by not discouraging and hindering that filthiness as far as they might, or by their being instrumental in it, or by their approbation of it and complacency in it.


Verse 28

Thus they add to their cruelty theft and robbery, which doubtless Jacob disowned when they brought the spoil home, and returned back both the surviving people and their goods, though it be passed over in silence, as many other things are. See Poole on "Genesis 33:14".


Verse 29

Either in the prince’s house, or in their several houses; or within doors, as the word signifies.


Verse 30

You have not only discomposed my mind, but perplexed my affairs, and brought me into such troubles and dangers as I am never likely to escape. You have made me odious to

the inhabitants of the land, who will impute this perfidious and bloody fact to my contrivance.

Few in number; Heb. men of number, i.e. few; for such can easily be numbered. So this phrase is used Deuteronomy 4:27 33:6, opposite to which are men without number, 2 Chronicles 12:3.

They shall slay me: he could expect no other in human reason, and they were hindered from so doing only by the hand of the great God smiting them with terror, Genesis 35:5.


Verse 31

Shall we express no more resentment of this abominable abuse of our sister, than if she had been some common harlot, whose abuse no man either regardeth or revengeth? Thus they excuse one fault by committing another, and defend themselves by accusing their father of stupidity, and insensibleness of so great an indignity and injury.

 


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Bibliography Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Genesis 34:4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/genesis-34.html. 1685.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
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