Genesis (Part 152)

Welcome back to my study/review of Genesis. If you missed the previous parts of this study, you can find them HERE.

Genesis 34: 8-17

But Hamor spoke with them, saying, “The soul of my son Shechem longs for your daughter. Please give her to him to be his wife. Make marriages with us. Give your daughters to us, and take our daughters for yourselves. 10 You shall dwell with us, and the land shall be open to you. Dwell and trade in it, and get property in it.” 11 Shechem also said to her father and to her brothers, “Let me find favor in your eyes, and whatever you say to me I will give. 12 Ask me for as great a bride-price and gift as you will, and I will give whatever you say to me. Only give me the young woman to be my wife.”

13 The sons of Jacob answered Shechem and his father Hamor deceitfully, because he had defiled their sister Dinah. 14 They said to them, “We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one who is uncircumcised, for that would be a disgrace to us. 15 Only on this condition will we agree with you—that you will become as we are by every male among you being circumcised. 16 Then we will give our daughters to you, and we will take your daughters to ourselves, and we will dwell with you and become one people. 17 But if you will not listen to us and be circumcised, then we will take our daughter, and we will be gone.”


After raping Dinah, Shechem and his father Hamor go to meet with Jacob and Dinah’s brothers and propose not only that Shechem marry Dinah but that a wider agreement between their people also occur – inclusive of marriage, trade, and land purchases. Specifically as it relates to Dinah, though, Shechem offers to pay any bride price that they ask.

Picking up with The Pulpit Commentary‘s notes at verse 8:

Genesis 34:8-10

And Hamor communed (literally, spake) with them (i.e. the whole family, or Jacob and his sons), saying, The soul of my son Shechem longeth for—the root (חָשַׁק) signifies to join together, intrans; to be joined together, hence to cleave to another in love (cf. Deuteronomy 7:7Deuteronomy 7:10Deuteronomy 7:15Deuteronomy 21:11); of similar import to the word (דָּבַק) employed in Genesis 34:3, which means to be devotedly attached to any one, as, e.g; to God (Deuteronomy 10:20), to a king (2 Samuel 20:2), to a wife (1 Kings 11:2)—your daughter. The words are addressed to Jacob’s sons as well as Jacob himself, the brothers equally with the father being regarded as the natural guardians of a sister. I pray yon give her him to wife. The absence of any apology for Shechem’s atrocious outrage against Dinah need not be regarded as indicating some measure of consent on the part of Dinah, but may be explained on the supposition that Hamor’s proposal was considered by himself as a practical admission of his son’s guilt. And make ye marriages with us,—literally, contract affinity with us by marriage, the verb chathan being spoken of the father-in-law (chothen)who makes the alliance (vide Furst, ‘Lex.,’ sub voce)and give your daughters unto us,—from this it has been inferred that Jacob had other daughters besides Dinah, which is not improbable (Genesis 46:7), but the words may not imply more than that Humor thought he had—and take our daughters unto you. And (as an inducement to form this alliance) ye shall dwell with us: and the land shall be before you; dwell and trade ye therein, and get you possessions thereini.e. he offers them the privilege of unrestricted movement throughout his dominions, with the right of establishing settlements, carrying on trade, and acquiring property.

As the note states, though Jacob and his sons are not given a specific apology, the offer from Hamor is itself a tacit admission of Shechem’s guilt.

Ellicott’s Commentary makes a point of emphasizing the gravity of Hamor’s offer with a note for verse 10:

(10) Ye shall dwell with us.—Hamor proposes that Jacob’s family shall abandon their nomad life, and settle among the Hivites. and trade with them, and get possessions, not merely of cattle and movable goods, but of immovable property. He wished the two clans to coalesce into one community.

In the place of an apology, Hamor provides what in his eyes is likely a generous and far-reaching proposal that Jacob’s community fully integrate into their own community.

Shechem for his part does not send his father alone to make amends. He comes also. While Hamor makes an offer to Jacob and his sons to join their community, and essentially become one homogenous community, Shechem specifically makes an entreaty regarding Dinah. He offers to pay anything that they ask for her. Returning to The Pulpit Commentaries:

Genesis 34:11Genesis 34:12

And Shechem said unto her father and unto her brethren (speaking with becoming deference and earnestness, and manifestly prompted by fervent and sincere love), Let me find grace in your eyes,—i.e. let my suit be accepted (vide Genesis 33:15)—and what ye shall say unto me I will give. Ask me never so much dowry and gift,—literally, multiply upon me exceedingly dowry and gift; the dowry (mohar) being the price paid for a wife to her parents (cf. Exodus 22:161 Samuel 18:25), and the gift (mathan) the presents given to the bride (Gesenius, Furst, Rosenmüller, Gerlach, Alford); or the dowry being the bride’s present, and the gift the wife’s price (Michaelis, Keil, Murphy); or the dowry being given to the parents, and the gift to the kindred (Patrick); or the two being the same thing, vie; the compensation offered to the relatives of the bride (Lange)—and I will give according as ye shall say unto me: but give (or, and ye will give) me the damsel to wife.

Ellicott makes a clarifying note regarding “dowry” and “gift.”:

(12) Dowry and gift.—The word rendered dowry (mohar) is the price paid to the parents and relatives of the bride, though taking the form of a present. The gift (matthan) was the present made by the bridegroom to the bride herself. Besides this, her relatives were expected to give her presents, and with some tribes of Arabs it is usual even to make over to her the dowry.

bride-price / dowry = מֹהַר môhar, mo’-har; from H4117; a price (for a wife):—dowry.

gift = מַתָּן mattân, mat-tawn’; from H5414; a present:—gift, to give, reward.

The Pulpit Commentaries provides a long summation note regarding verses 13-17, wherein Jacob’s sons reply deceitfully. The note explains in detail why their actions are wrong.

Genesis 34:13-17

And the sons of Jacob (manifestly without the knowledge of their father) answered Shechem and Humor his father deceitfully, and said,—the object of the verb said is to be found in the next verse, “we cannot do this thing,” the clause commencing “because being parenthetical (Rosenmüller, Furst), so that it is unnecessary either to take דְבֶּר in the unusual sense of doles struere (Schultens, Gasenius, Keil), or to supply after said “with deceit” from the preceding clause (Onkelos, Ainsworth, Murphy, et alii)—because he had defiled Dinah their sister (to be taken parenthetically, as already explained): and they said unto them (these words revert to the preceding verse), We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one that is uncircumcised (vide Genesis 17:11); for that were a reproach unto us. The ground on which they declined a matrimonial alliance with Shechem was good; their sin lay in advancing this simply as a pretext to enable them to wreak their unholy vengeance on Shechem and his innocent people. The treacherous character of their next proposal is difficult to be reconciled with any claim to humanity, far less to religion, on the part of Jacob’s sons; so much so, that ‘Jacob on his death-bed can offer no palliation for the atrocious cruelty to which it led (Genesis 49:6Genesis 49:7). But in this (i.e. under this condition) will we consent unto you: If ye will be as we be, that every male of you be circumcised (literally, to have circumcision administered to you every male); then will we give our daughters unto you, and we will take your daughters to us (i.e. to be our wives), and we will dwell with you, and we will become one people. This proposal was sinful, since

(1) they had no right to offer the sign of God’s covenant to a heathen people;

(2) they had less right to employ it in ratification of a merely human agreement; and

(3) they had least right of all to employ it in duplicity as a mask for their treachery. But if ye will not hearken unto us, to be circumcised; then (rather, sc. then we will not consent to your proposal, and) we will take our daughter,—who was still in Shechem’s house (Genesis 34:26)—and we will be gone.

The note makes a reference to Genesis 49 and Jacob’s pronouncement on Simeon and Levi resulting from this action:

“Simeon and Levi are brothers;
    weapons of violence are their swords.
Let my soul come not into their council;
    O my glory, be not joined to their company.
For in their anger they killed men,
    and in their willfulness they hamstrung oxen.
Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce,
    and their wrath, for it is cruel!
I will divide them in Jacob
    and scatter them in Israel.

Clearly the actions of Jacob’s sons, in this next section, are to be remembered negatively.

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