Genesis – Chapter 34

The Bible – Old Testament



Chapter 34


1 Dinah, the daughter whom Leah had borne to Jacob, went out to visit some of the women of the land.


2 When Shechem, son of Hamor the Hivite, who was chief of the region, saw her, he seized her and lay with her by force.


Since he was strongly attracted to Dinah, daughter of Jacob, indeed was really in love with the girl, he endeavored to win her affection.


Shechem also asked his father Hamor, «Get me this girl for a wife.»


Meanwhile, Jacob heard that Shechem had defiled his daughter Dinah; but since his sons were out in the fields with his livestock, he held his peace until they came home.


Now Hamor, the father of Shechem, went out to discuss the matter with Jacob,


just as Jacob’s sons were coming in from the fields. When they heard the news, the men were shocked and seethed with indignation. What Shechem had done was an outrage in Israel; such a thing could not be tolerated.


Hamor appealed to them, saying: «My son Shechem has his heart set on your daughter. Please give her to him in marriage.


Intermarry with us; give your daughters to us, and take our daughters for yourselves.


Thus you can live among us. The land is open before you; you can settle and move about freely in it, and acquire landed property here.»


Then Shechem, too, appealed to Dinah’s father and brothers: «Do me this favor, and I will pay whatever you demand of me.


No matter how high you set the bridal price, I will pay you whatever you ask; only give me the maiden in marriage.»


Jacob’s sons replied to Shechem and his father Hamor with guile, speaking as they did because their sister Dinah had been defiled.


«We could not do such a thing,» they said, «as to give our sister to an uncircumcised man; that would be a disgrace for us.


We will agree with you only on this condition, that you become like us by having every male among you circumcised.


Then we will give you our daughters and take yours in marriage; we will settle among you and become one kindred people with you.


But if you do not comply with our terms regarding circumcision, we will take our daughter and go away.»


Their proposal seemed fair to Hamor and his son Shechem.


The young man lost no time in acting in the matter, since he was deeply in love with Jacob’s daughter. Moreover he was more highly respected than anyone else in his clan.


So Hamor and his son Shechem went to their town council and thus presented the matter to their fellow townsmen:


«These men are friendly toward us. Let them settle in the land and move about in it freely; there is ample room in the country for them. We can marry their daughters and give our daughters to them in marriage.


But the men will agree to live with us and form one kindred people with us only on this condition, that every male among us be circumcised as they themselves are.


Would not the livestock they have acquired – all their animals – then be ours? Let us, therefore, give in to them, so that they may settle among us.»


3 All the able-bodied men of the town agreed with Hamor and his son Shechem, and all the males, including every able-bodied man in the community, were circumcised.


On the third day, while they were still in pain, Dinah’s full brothers Simeon and Levi, two of Jacob’s sons, took their swords, advanced against the city without any trouble, and massacred all the males.


After they had put Hamor and his son Shechem to the sword, they took Dinah from Shechem’s house and left.


Then the other sons of Jacob followed up the slaughter and sacked the city in reprisal for their sister Dinah’s defilement.


They seized their flocks, herds and asses, whatever was in the city and in the country around.


They carried off all their wealth, their women, and their children, and took for loot whatever was in the houses.


Jacob said to Simeon and Levi: «You have brought trouble upon me by making me loathsome to the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites and the Perizzites. I have so few men that, if these people unite against me and attack me, I and my family will be wiped out.»


But they retorted, «Should our sister have been treated like a harlot?»

1 [1] Every able-bodied man in the community: literally «all those who go out at the gate of the city,» apparently meaning the men who go out to war. By temporarily crippling them through circumcision, Jacob’s sons deprived the city of its defenders.
2 [2] Hivite: The Greek text has «Horite»; the terms were apparently used indiscriminately to designate the Hurrian or other non-Semitic elements in Palestine.
3 [24] Behind the story of the rape of Dinah and the revenge of Jacob’s sons on the men of the city of Shechem there probably lies a dimly recollected historical event connected with an armed conflict between the earliest Israelite tribes invading central Canaan and the Hurrian inhabitants of the Shechem region.