Epistles to the Cyberchurch - Su Min

To: en & more
From: Su Min
Subject: Genesis 34

My dearly beloved,

As I see this week will end with En Yu being home for Christmas, (yippee) I will round up this series of sharing by tomorrow, and resume with Genesis 37 in January. In the meanwhile (for the intervening 4 weeks) I will probably think aloud and share on the E-mail, some meditations on Christmas, so that those who are actually reading all of this can have something to continue on with.

Today's reading is rather dismal, depressing rather than uplifting, but the word of God, is true yesterday today and forever so let us persist, for surely God has something to teach us today.

Dinah Gen 34:1, is daughter of Leah and Jacob, and innocently goes to visit the women of the land. The city is called Schem, as is the son of the ruler. The people are called Shechemites. Shechem, son of Hamor saw Dinah, desired her deliriously, and let his hormones run riot:

Look at the sequence of action words: SAW her, TOOK her, RAPED her, LOVED her, SPOKE tenderly to her, then WANTS to marry her (Gen 34:2-4). So he was not an absolutely rotten fellow, just lacked the common decency of wooing her and marrying her first before all the other bits. Bad. And we have quite a number of Prince Sechems these days too.

Going through the cast one by one we see each of them have made mistakes, some more terrible than others. God's word is here for us to learn. Let us measure ourselves to God's standards and see if we have followed too closely any of these characters...

Dinah. Poor Dinah. Innocent and unsuspecting. The anti-rape psychologists teach us that most rape victims do not provoke the rape, even though they know the rapist in 50% of cases. They do not dress provocatively. But they are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Although she was going to visit women, Dinah was exposing herself to the gaze of lusty middle eastern men... should she not have gone? should she have taken a chaperone? The vulnerable and innocent must take upon themselves the responsibility of protection and education. Learn about the ways of the world on order to avoid the pitfalls.

Sechem, paid with his life for his impetuous act. All males are seething cauldrons of testosterone, but unless they stop their gonads from ruling their heads, they are in for nothing but trouble.

Hamor, offers to make good of a bad deed. Wishes Dinah to be made an honourable woman by marrying her to Schem. Submits to circumcision. Gets killed. Hamor may have encouraged Shechem by example a rakish promiscuous behaviour. Fathers take note. Your sons are watching you. Should we not all follow after Noah's example (Gen 6:6) and be righteous, blameless and walk with God? Hamor failed in his duty to raise his son properly.

Jacobs' sons, all, especially Simeon and Levi, all were very loving and protective of their sister Dinah. But it was not only her disgrace that they felt but their own. Filled with grief and fury, it was their own pride that was more damaged than their care for the ravaged sister. And in their rage and fury they obliterated the unsuspecting city of Shechem, killing every male. Even the ancient law recognises an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. But their fury knew no bounds. Surely the price they exacted from Shechem was much more than one careless act of passion was due. So they erred in vengeance and wrath. They erred in self pride. They erred in dishonouring family name. They erred in making themselves unwelcome amongst the Canaanites.

Last, but not least, Jacob. While he was not the prime mover of this tragedy, he was at least a silent partner, and as head of household it must be willingly, with his consent that all these goings on occurred. So Jacob was guilty of not raising Dinah properly and not providing sufficient guidance and protection for her as she went out to visit the women of the land. More important, Jacob failed to raise his sons properly so that their anger was tempered with love and justice: Simon and Levi were his sons born to Leah (Gen 29:33-34), and it may well be that with 4 mothers (two sisters Rachel and Leah and their two maids, Bilhah and Zilpah) Daddy Jacob did not have much to do with child rearing. So part of the blame of the hot tempered boys must lie with the lack of discipline from Jacob their father. Furthermore as the plot to zap the enemies while they recover from circumcision unfolds, surely Jacob as Patriarch supreme must get a wind of this.. Either he ignores it or is so out of touch with his family that he does not know. Either way he is wrong. He openly speaks out after the event, not to say it is wrong, but that the action has brought trouble and dispute.

Enough fault finding. We are not here on a nit picking exercise. But, as an example of how wrong things can go if we do not constantly turn to God for guidance, this chapter is lesson numero uno. If we want to know what mistakes not to make, just dwell on what each of these part players has done.

Let us close in prayer with a declaration from Titus 3: 3-7

Love dad

For any comments or enquiries please write to Dr. Lim Su Min

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