The Book of GENESIS
James J. Barker
A VERY SAD FATHER’S DAY MESSAGE
- I have been preaching a series of messages from the book of Genesis since last September, and this morning we have come to Genesis 34, one of the saddest chapters in the Bible.
- Since today is Father’s Day, I considered preaching on something else, but actually I believe this is a good chapter for the occasion because the life of Jacob provides for us a good Father’s Day warning.
- That is, because in many ways Jacob failed as a father.
- Some fathers think their main responsibility is to financially provide for their family. If that is the case, then Jacob would have been an excellent father because he was very wealthy and prosperous.
- Genesis 30:43 says Jacob, “increased exceedingly, and had much cattle, and maidservants, and menservants, and camels, and asses.”
- But if Jacob had been a good father, he would have recognized the danger in settling down in Shalem, a city of Shechem, a wicked Canaanite city (33:18). Jacob made a terrible mistake when he decided to settle down in Shalem, and apparently he stayed there for several years.
- Jacob had promised God he would return to Bethel, but that vow was evidently forgotten or ignored (28:20-22).
- Jacob’s possessions had largely increased, and the pastures at Succoth and Shechem seemed very attractive, and so Jacob thought his vow to God was not all that important.
- It seems clear that Jacob chose to live in Shalem for worldly reasons. “The first and supreme factor of choice of a new home should be, ‘What will it do for our spiritual life?’” (W.H. Griffith Thomas, Genesis).
- Not only did Jacob's worldliness lead to danger and disaster for himself and his family, it hindered him from bearing witness to God. In fact, God is not mentioned at all in Genesis chapter 34.
- Jacob had become very worldly, and he had no testimony for God. Genesis 12:6 says, "And the Canaanite was then in the land," but like Lot before him, Jacob had no testimony for God because there was very little difference between him and the Canaanites.
- Worldliness always prevents a good testimony. “The banner is not displayed, because the life is not true. The standard is not maintained, and blessing is not obtained. There never has been a case where the adoption of worldly methods has justified itself by spiritual blessing” (W.H. Griffith Thomas, Genesis).
- Jacob, the man who had seen God face to face, had become backslidden, and when fathers are backslidden, their children seldom grow up right.
- Hosea 11:7 says, “And my people are bent to backsliding.” This verse certainly describes Jacob. He had this troublesome bent to backsliding.
- Jacob had twelve sons, and apparently only one of them, Joseph, turned out right. And Jacob had only one daughter (as far as we know), Dinah, and while at a very young age she was defiled (34:1, 2).
- W.H. Griffith Thomas said Jacob was a man “on this low ground of unfaithfulness, of spiritual declension, and who has to suffer for it bitterly. So it is always; spiritual leakage means spiritual loss, a lower tone, a cessation of power, a discontinuance of testimony, and, not least of all, an unrest of soul and untold trouble of heart and life” (Genesis).
- Jacob’s downfall didn’t happen overnight. By a series of steps, Jacob had come to this deplorable situation.
- THE DEFILEMENT
- THE PROPOSAL
- THE MASSACRE
THE DEFILEMENT (34:1, 2)
- Dinah’s birth is recorded in Genesis 30:21. Apparently she was the only daughter of Jacob. Jacob should have been more careful with her. He should have known her whereabouts.
- The word “defiled” is found four times in this chapter (34: 2, 5, 13, 27).
- The word literally means, “to make unclean” (cf. 34:7, 31).
- Some modern Bible versions have translated this word as “rape,” but there is no indication that Shechem forced Dinah (cf. 34:7, 31).
- Later on in the chapter we see that Dinah was living at Shechem’s house (34:26), so it appears that Dinah enjoyed his company.
- Dinah was “defiled” (34:2, 5, 13, 27). “Deflowered” would be the modern word for it. Dinah lost her purity. She lost her virginity.
- This same Hebrew word is often translated “polluted.”
- Sin always brings pollution and defilement and guilt and shame.
- Many people today are very concerned about air pollution and water pollution, but they are not at all concerned about sin pollution.
- Dinah "went out to see the daughters of the land" (34:1), and she was defiled – she became polluted – and this was the inevitable result of living near Shechem. It was bound to happen.
- It should not be surprising that a young lady (probably about sixteen-years-old, and perhaps even younger) would be interested in making new friends. And sadly, it is not surprising that backslidden Jacob could be so careless and indifferent to his young daughter’s welfare. Jacob seemed more concerned about his cattle than his children.
- Why didn’t Jacob warn Dinah of the danger, and why didn’t he prevent her from going? I am appalled when I hear about parents allowing their children to associate with worldly young people, and go to their worldly parties and proms, and listen to rock and hip hop music, etc.
- First Corinthians 15:33 says, "Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners." Many of our young people are being corrupted.
- Some Christian parents even criticize godly parents and preachers as being “too old-fashioned” or “too strict” or even “legalistic,” etc. Worldly parents pride themselves on being very open-minded.
- A recent Gallup poll revealed that 67% of Americans now approve of sex outside of marriage. 62% approve of having children out of wedlock. 60% approve of homosexuality.
- God help America. We are surely heading for destruction.
- Jacob was a negligent father, and Leah was a negligent mother. Leah failed to teach Dinah the value of keeping her purity.
- Mothers should teach their daughters how to conduct themselves around men. And parents should teach their daughters how to dress modestly. Some girls dress like tramps. Parents, wake up!
- First Timothy 2:9 says that women should “adorn themselves in modest apparel.”
- Dinah’s parents allowed her to go out and mingle with her worldly neighbors, and Genesis 34:2 that Shechem “saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her.” That is the way worldly people operate.
- Saw, took, lay, and defiled. The Bible repeatedly warns us about “the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes” (I John 2:16).
- Shechem and his relatives were not followers of the one true God, and so they did not consider any of this wrong. Just like 67% of Americans!
- They did not regard this sin the same way it was regarded by Dinah’s brothers (34:7). And Shechem does not appear at all to be ashamed (34:1-8).
- Shechem evidently become genuinely attached to Dinah, and he wanted to marry her, and so he discussed this with his father Hamor, and together they went out to meet Jacob (34:3-6).
- Meanwhile, Jacob heard the terrible news of Dinah's sin, and he "held his peace" (34:5). Jacob was a stranger in that territory, and he knew he was surrounded and outnumbered by Shechem’s ungodly relatives. These were pagan people known for being immoral and unprincipled.
- And perhaps Jacob’s conscience was bothering him, and that kept him quiet. And maybe Jacob was thinking that this terrible scandal never would have happened had he gone back to Bethel like he was supposed to.
- So Jacob “held his peace” because of indecision. Apparently Jacob didn’t know what to do.
- It is likely that Jacob’s indecision and his inaction led to Dinah’s brothers deciding to deal with the problem in their own (brutal) way.
THE PROPOSAL (34:7-12)
- A conference took place between the two families. In addition to Shechem and the two fathers, Hamor and Jacob, the sons of Jacob were also present. This was according to the custom of that day.
- “Wrought folly in Israel” (34:7) is a phrase found several times in the Old Testament to describe any sinful deed that was contrary to the holiness which ought to characterize God’s people” (cf. Deuteronomy 22:13-21; Judges 20:4-6, 10; II Samuel 13:10-12).
- “Wrought folly in Israel” can refer to other sins besides gross immorality. Achan was guilty of covetousness and disobedience, and Joshua 7:15 says, “he hath transgressed the covenant of the LORD, and because he hath wrought folly in Israel.”
- After having robbed Dinah of her purity, Shechem declared his intentions to make her his wife, provided he could gain the consent of her father Jacob (34:4-6).
- The proposal for marriage was suggested as an opportunity for the beginning of a political alliance or amalgamation of the two tribes.
- This alliance was to be sealed and actually effected by intermarriage (34: 9, 10).
- Of course, this worldly alliance would be an unscriptural compromise, since Hamor and his family were all godless idolaters.
- Hamor offered to make them joint-possessors of the soil, and of the rights of dwelling, trading, and acquiring property (34:10).
- Shechem was willing to give whatever "dowry" Jacob asked (34:12). The "dowry" would not be a gift for Dinah, but a price paid to her parents for their daughter (Exodus 22:16, 17; I Samuel 18:25).
- These proposals show clearly the value set by the Canaanites on a merger with Jacob's family. Sometimes, worldly people consider it advantageous to be united with the people of God.
- A well-known example would be the time wicked King Ahab wanted to join forces with King Jehoshaphat. King Jehoshaphat went along with it, but later on he was rebuked by the prophet Jehu, who said to him, “Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the LORD” (II Chronicles 19:2).
- The Word of God is clear – “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (II Corinthians 6:14).
- Referring to Hamor’s offer to unite his tribe with Jacob’s, W.H. Griffith Thomas said, “Godliness, even of the kind then shown by Jacob, has promise of attractiveness and value for men of the world” (Genesis).
- It is obvious that both Shechem and his father Hamor were determined to make whatever amends they could for the terrible offence that had been committed.
- However, the sons of Jacob answered them “deceitfully” (34:13).
- All his life, Jacob had always resorted to deceit, and Jacob's besetting sin was deceitfulness. Therefore, it is not at all surprising that his sons learned how to be expert deceivers. They learned from their father.
- Children often follow in their father’s footsteps, and this means they often pick up their father’s bad habits. And sadly, when they sin, they usually go even further into sin than their fathers.
- For example, Jacob was a deceiver, but he was not a violent man. However, Simeon and Levi were not only deceitful, they were also extremely violent (34:25-31; cf. 49:5-7).
- Dinah’s brothers “were grieved, and they were very wroth” (34:7). They burned with anger and resentment over this wicked sin, this wrong that “ought not to have been done” (34:7b).
- The terrible thing about a sin like this is that it cannot be undone. A thief can return stolen money, but Shechem could not give Dinah her purity back.
- Proverbs 6:33 says the adulterer’s “reproach shall not be wiped away.” “Reproach” refers to his shame and disgrace.
- Marrying Shechem would not undo the damage. Dinah was still “defiled.”
- The last time we see Dinah mentioned in Scripture is in verse 26, where we see Simeon and Levi, her brothers, taking her out of Shechem's house right after they killed Hamor and his son Shechem with the sword, and right before they plundered the city.
- Dinah was about the same age as Joseph, but in his various conversations with his brothers in Egypt her name is never mentioned.
- Because of her brothers’ violent massacre, Dinah was denied the possibility of marrying Shechem. Her life was shattered and ruined.
- W.H. Griffith Thomas said, “She had to live her life and end her days under the cloud of disgrace, due first to herself and then to her brothers' vengeance. And all this in the family of the chosen patriarch! Could anything be sadder or more disappointing? Could Divine grace overrule these awful troubles? Yes, it could and did, though they still stand recorded in all their hideousness, ‘written for our learning’” (Genesis).
- Dinah’s brothers were furious and they wanted revenge. They knew they were greatly outnumbered, so they resorted to deceit (34:13-17).
- Their request sounded reasonable (34:14-18). As a matter of religious conviction, they could not intermarry with the uncircumcised.
- God said to Abraham, “This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised” (Genesis 17:10).
- Only on this one condition would they agree to Hamor’s invitation to form an alliance – that every male be circumcised. Then they would consent (34:14-17).
- On these terms they promised to “become one people” with them (34:16). Otherwise they would take Dinah and leave (34:17).
- At this conference, Dinah’s brothers were doing all of the talking. They spoke as representatives of the family, and that is why they referred to Dinah as their “daughter,” rather than “sister.”
- “And their words pleased Hamor, and Shechem” (34:18), and so they accepted the terms of the agreement, and immediately proceeded to have all their men circumcised (34:18-24).
- Nothing was said by Jacob’s sons or by Hamor and Shechem concerning the religious significance of circumcision, nor was anything said regarding the serious religious differences between the children of Israel and the Canaanites.
- For example, the Canaanites were polytheistic idolaters.
- This is the way the ecumenical leaders operate today. In their effort to unite everyone into one big religious conglomeration, they gloss over the serious differences between Baptist and Roman Catholic and Protestant and Pentecostal; between Christianity and Islam; between conservative and liberal, etc. They ignore the big doctrinal differences.
- But the Bible rejects ecumenicalism. Romans 16:17 says, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.”
- It was the absence of the right motive that proved Jacob’s sons’ proposal wrong. Hamor and Shechem had no idea that circumcision was part of the Abrahamic Covenant. They had no idea that they were entering this covenant with Jacob’s family on religious grounds.
- Jacob’s sons were proposing to use the sign of the religious covenant as the means of a political agreement. Circumcision without faith in the God of the Abrahamic Covenant could not be anything but carnal and worldly.
- And to make things even worse, they were about to employ the solemn seal of the Abrahamic Covenant for the purpose of wreaking their vengeance on these unsuspecting men.
- W.H. Griffith Thomas said, “Their suggestion was therefore nothing more than a pretext to cover treachery. There was the appearance of piety with the reality of intended murder. Could anything be more truly terrible? What a light it sheds on the state of Jacob's home life! And why was Jacob silent during all these proposals? True, he could not know the contemplated treachery, but his entire silence is remarkable. Had he no part or power in the matter of his daughter's life? Or was he weak and irresolute, conscious of his own unfaithfulness?” (Genesis).
- Treacherous, deceitful, weak, irresolute, unfaithful. What a terrible testimony! And what a sad story for Father’s Day!
- This is the saddest Father’s Day message I have ever preached, but in some ways it may be the most important.
- If there are some dads here like Jacob, it is not too late to make amends.
- The LORD says, “Consider your ways” (Haggai 1:5, 7).
- Simon and Levi quickly fell upon the trustful and unsuspecting tribe of Hamor, while they were weak and sore and unable to defend themselves from the circumcision. Then all of the helpless men were cruelly killed with the sword (34:25, 26).
- Generally, it is understood that the Israelites were God’s chosen people, and the Canaanites were wicked idolaters. But notice the contrast here in Genesis 34.
- In this chapter we see the peaceable and trustful attitude of the Canaanites contrasted with the cruel treachery of the sons of Jacob.
- W.H. Griffith Thomas said, “The ‘heathen’ show up well by contrast with those who were professedly the people of God” (Genesis).
- Simon and Levi were the instigators and murderers, but apparently all the sons of Jacob joined in the sacking of the city (34:27-29).
- They seized all their cattle and goods, and made captives of their wives and little ones. “They avenged sin by greater sin” (Thomas, Genesis).
- This reminds us of last week’s bloody massacre in Orlando, Florida. Homosexuality is a wicked sin, but killing 49 unsuspecting homosexuals is a far greater sin. What makes this story even more terrible is the fact that the murderer himself was a homosexual.
- Up until last week, the top six serial killers in America were all homosexual – Donald Harvey (37 victims); John Wayne Gacy (33 victims); Patrick Kearney (32 victims), Bruce Davis (27 victims); Dean Arnold Corll, along with his two accomplices David Brooks and Elmer Wayne, (27 victims); and Juan Corona (25 victims).
- But now #1 killer at the top of this horrible list is Omar Mateen, the Muslim homosexual terrorist.
- Jacob was greatly distressed by the massacre, but sadly, because of his many failures as a father he was partly responsible.
- Throughout the whole chapter, Jacob had been silent. Finally, at last Jacob speaks in verse 30. He had "held his peace" for far too long.
- Jacob rebuked his sons for their action, but the emphasis here is not on their deceit and cruel massacre. Instead, Jacob looked at the matter solely from his own point of view. It was all about Jacob.
- Note carefully, Jacob’s complaint:
“Ye have troubled me to make me to stink among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites: and I being few in number, they shall gather themselves together against me, and slay me; and I shall be destroyed, I and my house” (34:30).
- There are eight first person pronouns (“I, me, my) in this one sentence!
- There was no remorse and no blame for the sin committed, only concern for the danger involved. Jacob was afraid for his life, and his home, and the land he paid for, and the possessions he enjoyed.
- It didn’t seem to bother Jacob that many innocent men were slaughtered, and that many women lost their husbands, and many children lost their fathers.
- It didn’t seem to bother Jacob that his cruel, murderous sons went on a rampage and plundered the city (34:27-29). He was only worried about his safety.
- Here at the end of this sad chapter, Simeon and Levi have the last word. They justified their cruel retribution, and they showed absolutely no remorse for their deceit and treachery and murder and stealing (34:31).
- Shechem may have dealt with their sister “as with a harlot,” but that was no justification for their indiscriminate slaughter.
- Furthermore, they conveniently forgot all about Shechem’s willingness to marry Dinah. And his willingness to get circumcised.
- Shechem wanted to try to make things right. He wanted to try and make reparation. He sincerely wanted to prevent Dinah from living the rest of her days under the shadow of her sin.
- But Simeon and Levi ruined all that, and they made a bad situation worse.
- Jacob did not necessarily agree with their statement, but he allowed his sons to have the last word, perhaps because argument with such unreasonable men would be useless.
- And possibly because Jacob understood that his own choice of settling down in Shalem led to this terrible chain of events.
- At the end of his life, Jacob said that he had never forgotten their sin (49:5-7). Apparently it weighed heavy on his heart all the rest of his life.
- It is true that oftentimes children bring trouble on their parents, but it is also true that oftentimes it is largely the parents' own fault.
- When he rebuked his sons, Jacob did not pray, nor did he mention God at all. It is very sad that Jacob, the “Prince of God,” didn’t think to pray.
- There is an old song called, "The Wreck on the Highway.” It was written after the writer saw a drunk driver get killed in a car wreck.
Who did you say it was, brother?
Who was it fell by the way?
When whiskey and blood run together
Did you hear anyone pray?
Their names I'm not able to tell you,
But here is one thing I can say:
There were whiskey and blood mixed together,
But I didn't hear nobody pray.
I didn't hear nobody pray, dear brother,
I didn't hear nobody pray.
I heard the crash on the highway,
But I didn't hear nobody pray.
- We could apply these words to the Orlando massacre…and to the massacre recorded in Genesis 34.
I wish I could change this sad story
That I am now telling you;
But there is no way I can change it,
For somebody's life is now through.
Their soul has been called by the Master,
They died in a crash on their way.
I heard the groans of the dying,
But I didn't hear nobody pray. (Dorsey Dixon)
- Jacob didn’t pray.
- His sons didn’t pray.
- I wonder if maybe Dinah prayed. The Bible doesn’t say.
- In fact, after her defilement, Dinah is never mentioned again.