It should be noted that the narrative in this chapter does not make any mention of God. Could it be that Jacob had neglected to live close to his God, did he neglect to guide his family in the daily worship of God. What was the reason for this terrible situation that had overtaken Jacob’s family? The scriptures do not elaborate, but we can surely draw out of this passage some pitfalls applicable to any family. “Dinah, ….. went out to visit the women of the land.”
• Living in close proximity to an ungodly city and people soon brought its problems to Jacob’s family.
• Jacob had only one daughter.
• Young people need companionship with others of their own age.
• Dinah soon sought such companionship, which caused an immense problem for Jacob and his family.
Thus follows a set of circumstances that could have led to disaster for Jacob’s family. Some of these situations still face us as Christian families today.
“Intermarry with us; give us your daughters and take our daughters for yourselves. You can settle among us; the land is open to you. Live in it, trade in it, and acquire property in it.”
This was a constant threat to the ancient people of God, and one that they had to be constantly warned about. Abraham had made sure that Isaac did not intermarry with the people of the land in which he sojourned. Isaac in turn did the same for Jacob. Did Jacob make his children aware of God’s directive in this matter? Was this directive only applicable to the sons and not to the daughters? Was Dinah aware of this? Was Jacob guilty of not teaching his children this important directive of God?. Again we do not know and can only speculate.
How do we as Christians today address this important subject with our children? Do we make them aware of the seriousness of the matter of marriage? Do we teach them that marriage must be “in the Lord”? . Do we teach them about the consequences of the “unequal yoke”? . We as Christian parents should never fail God and our children in this regard and leave such an important matter to chance!
What could Jacob and his family do faced with this situation? Social customs at that time would dictate that Dinah should become Shechem’s wife, she would have to go and live in Hamor’s community, and live among ungodly people. This was not acceptable to Dinah’s brothers, who seemed to have taken charge of the situation, so they decided to take matters into their own hands.
“Because their sister Dinah had been defiled, Jacob’s sons replied deceitfully as they spoke to Shechem and his father Hamor. They said to them, “We can’t do such a thing; we can’t give our sister to a man who is not circumcised. That would be a disgrace to us. We will give our consent to you on one condition only: that you become like us by circumcising all your males. Then we will give you our daughters and take your daughters for ourselves. We’ll settle among you and become one people with you.”
With these words of deceit, Dinah’s brothers waited until the men of the city were in “sore pain” as a result of their circumcisions, and “took their swords and attacked the unsuspecting city, killing every male” . This caused Jacob to intervene but only too late. “Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought trouble on me by making me a stench to the Canaanites and Perizzites, But they replied, “Should he have treated our sister like a prostitute?”
By now whatever testimony Jacob and his family might have had to their neighbours was gone. Instead of being a witness for truth and love, they had now become associated with deception and cruelty, rather than an example of God’s holiness and mercy. Where was Israel, the strong prince who had power with God, when action was needed. He had indeed failed.
Though scripture does not indicate this, it seems very likely that Jacob went quickly to his altar to cry to God for forgiveness and instruction. A gracious and longsuffering God answered him once again.
The question to us today is: What would (could, should) we do as a Christian family when (if) faced with such a situation? Let us not wait until it happens, let us be faithful to God and our children and teach them God’s ways.