This chapter pisses me off to no end. Dinah is raped by Shechem (“he seized her and lay with her by force”) and then he wants to take her as a wife. Not surprisingly, her brothers are quite upset about this and want nothing to do with Shechem or his father, Hamor. However, it’s not because of the act of the rape, but because Shechem was uncircumcised and the best solution that they could come up with is for all the men of the city to have their junk cut off.
This is all a ruse, however, for Levi and Simeon to get their revenge by killing Hamor and Shechem, rescuing their sister, and then killing all of the men in the city and taking their wives and kids, their cattle, and their wealth. Jacob’s response to this is to say that they brought trouble on him.
30Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought trouble on me by making me odious to the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites and the Perizzites; my numbers are few, and if they gather themselves against me and attack me, I shall be destroyed, both I and my household.” 31But they said, “Should our sister be treated like a whore?”Bibles, Harper . NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (p. 91). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
I’m saying anyone is right in this story. It’s a pretty barbaric story and the fact that Jacob seems not the least bit upset over his daughter being raped is pretty fucked up (excuse my language, but there is no other way to express myself). That’s all I have to say about this chapter.
God tells Jacob to hightail it back to Bethel, or Luz, or whatever it’s called, and build an altar to El, the god that appeared to him in what is now called Bethel. He gathers the family together and tells them to get rid of the foreign gods which Jacob hides under an oak tree near Shechem. God also made it abundantly clear to the cities around them that they are not to be followed. When they made it to Bethel, Jacob built the altar and called the place El-Bethel because El is the name of this particular god. And then Rachel’s nurse Deborah died, who we only ever heard of in this very story.
Was this story part of a larger story that was lost to time? It was just a couple chapters ago that Jacob wrestled with God who changed his name to Israel, and now we get a repeat here at Bethel. Did Jacob not hear him or believe him the first time?
9God appeared to Jacob again when he came from Paddan-aram, and he blessed him. 10God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; no longer shall you be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.” So he was called Israel. 11God said to him, “I am God Almighty: [El Shaddai] be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall spring from you.Bibles, Harper . NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (p. 92). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
So God gives the land that he had given to Abraham and Isaac to Jacob and it will be handed down through his generations. Once again, Jacob…err…Israel build a stone pillar and pours oil on it like he did a few chapters earlier.
Rachel dies in childbirth giving birth to Ben-oni, but Jacob called him Benjamin. So she’s buried on their way to what will be called Bethlehem, and Jacob set up a pillar on the grave. So, this can get a little confusing, but the paragraph uses Jacob in one sentence and Israel in the next. Anyway, Israel set up camp at the tower of Eder.
I can’t remember if it ever comes up again, but Reuben, firstborn of Jacob and Leah, got it on with Bilhah, who was his father’s concubine. Israel heard about it. I’m guessing this will come up again, but not here. Then, with the birth of Benjamin, that makes twelve sons for Jacob, or twelve tribes of Israel.
The chapter concludes with the death of Isaac, and Jacob and Esau bury him.
We find out that there has been another name change as Esau is now Edom. This whole chapter deals with the genealogy of Esau’s lineage. I am not going to bore anyone with the details. Not even the Oxford Bible Commentary has much of interest to say about this chapter.
I read it. That’s all that’s important.