Two Wrongs Don’t Make A Right
“In his book Predictably Irrational, researcher Dan Ariely claims that most of us are masters at deceiving ourselves and justifying our actions. In particular, we often make our decisions based not on what's right, but on what we want.
Ariely tells his own story of buying a car. ‘When I turned thirty,’ he writes, ‘I decided it was time to trade in my motorcycle for a car, but I could not decide which car was right for me. The web was just taking off, and to my delight I found a site that provided advice on purchasing cars.’ Professor Ariely describes how he answered all of the questions on the website, which then recommended that he purchase a Ford Taurus. He describes his reaction this way:
The problem was that, having just surrendered my motorcycle, I couldn't see myself driving a sedate sedan. I was now facing a dilemma: I had tried a deliberative and thoughtful process for my car selection, and I didn't like the answer I got. So, I did what I think anyone in my position would do. I hit the BACK button a few times, backtracked to earlier stages of the interview process, and changed many of my original answers to what I convinced myself were more accurate and appropriate responses .… I kept this up until the car-advertising website suggested a Mazda Miata. The moment the program was kind enough to recommend a small convertible, I felt grateful for the fantastic software and decided to follow its advice.
Commenting on what he learned in the process, Professor Ariely says, ‘The experience taught me that sometimes we want our decisions to have a rational veneer when, in fact, they stem from … what we crave deep down.’”
Source: Jim Samra, God Told Me (Baker, 2012), pp. 50-51.
I shared not that long ago about a time when I did something to another guy on the school bus that prompted him to turn around and hit me
When I left the bus, I slapped him on the side of the head
I did not show restraint or self-control at the time, but allowed my sinful behavior to get out of control
There were consequences for my behavior
Out of control
All of us have probably experienced a time in our lives when we have allowed our sinful human behavior to get out of control
Take a comment to recall that experience
Chapter 34 does not really have any redeeming qualities. It is a very dark chapter in Genesis as we see a heinous crime that is committed and an equally heinous retaliation enacted on an entire city. Sin is running rampant throughout this entire narrative. Instead of doing what is right and just, we find that the individuals involved are acting on cravings and sinful desires. Both the initial act and the retaliation spin out of control. What we learn from this passage is . . .
BIG IDEA – Sinful human behavior can easily get out of control.
GOD (Genesis 34:1-31)
Violation (vv. 1-4)
We are introduced to the individual who is the center of everything that happens in this chapter
Dinah (dee-naw’), the daughter of Leah and Jacob
We were first introduced to Dinah in Genesis 30:21 – she was born to Jacob and Leah some time later after Leah had already given birth to six sons
It is probable that Jacob and Leah had other daughters also, but only Dinah is mentioned in Scripture
She is between 13-15 years old at this time, which was the marriageable age in the ancient Near East
The Hebrew word for “went out” is yāṣā’ (yaw-tsaw’/yacht-saw’) and is found in verses 1, 6, 24, and 26 – it’s a recurring theme in this passage
Dinah going out on her own at the marriageable age would have been unusual in the culture of the day
“Girls of a marriageable age would not normally leave a rural encampment to go unchaperoned into an alien city.” [Sarna cited by Waltke, Genesis: A Commentary, 461]
Dinah was simply going to visit some girlfriends and was not looking for a boyfriend or planning to do anything immoral [Gangel & Bramer, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Genesis, 291]
It was improper and imprudent for her to do this – it allowed her to be vulnerable
We are not told if she did this against her parent’s wishes
We do not know if she snuck out
“. . . the text repeatedly emphasizes her role as Jacob’s daughter, suggesting that her behavior was his responsibility.” [Gangel & Bramer, 291]
PRINCIPLE #1 – Our role as parents is to protect our children.
Sometimes that means saying “No” to something that they want to do, because we know that it could put them in a compromising situation or a vulnerable position
It is difficult to have to make those decisions for them, but it is important to protect them
We also have to train them to make wise decisions, so they do not find themselves in situations or positions that make them vulnerable
Too often parents want their children to like them, so they allow them to do certain things and go certain places, even though they know it may not be safe
Our role is not be our children’s best friend, but to be their parent – a guiding force in their lives
As our children mature and become adults, then we can foster a friendship with them that will last a lifetime
Parents, it is imperative that you know what your children are viewing online, where they are going with friends, and what they are experimenting with
It is important that we model for them what a personal relationship with Jesus Christ looks like and that that relationship takes precedence over everything else
What we say and do has an incredible impact on our children, whether for good or bad
We do not know the circumstances behind Dinah going out to visit the women of the land
Mathews contends that Dinah’s intention in visiting the women of the land was to observe their habits [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 590]
It is important for us to remember that Abraham, Isaac, and Rebekah were repulsed by Canaanite women and their lifestyle, which is why they sought wives for their sons from Paddan Aram/Haran [Waltke, 462]
What was it about the women of the land that intrigued Dinah?
We do not know if Jacob knew about it ahead of time and approved or disapproved of it
All we know is that she went out
We are told that Shechem is the son of Hamor, who was the ruler of the area
He saw her
There was not any sin in recognizing her beauty
It was perhaps “love at first sight”
He thought to himself, “That girl is attractive!”
He took her
There would not have been any sin, if he had just started talking to her – getting to know her
But he took her
We are not told how he did that, whether it was through seduction (sweet-talking her) or force
He violated her
We do know from the Hebrew word for “violated” that the intimate act was not consensual
“The third verb (ʿānâ piel) implies that their having sex was not consensual. It’s the nearest to a Hebrew verb for rape, though it can also refer (e.g.) to a man having sex with a woman whom he has captured in war and married (Deut. 21:14). While it thus need not indicate that he has violent sex with Dinah, it does suggest that he is behaving like a man who assumes he can do as he likes with a woman and that he violates her.” [Goldingay, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament, Pentateuch, Genesis, 532]
Sinful human behavior can easily get out of control.
PRINCIPLE #2 – Pursuing the world can have negative consequences.
The negative consequences for Dinah were forced upon her
She had put herself in a compromising and vulnerable position
She did not have other siblings or friends with her to help protect her
Perhaps you have been intrigued by the habits of other people or groups and you are tempted to hang out with them
Are you putting yourself in a compromising or vulnerable position?
Do you have family or friends that can help protect you
Young people, perhaps you need to avoid certain places and people in order to protect yourself
#1 – My Next Step Today Is To: Ask the Lord to give me wisdom about the people I am hanging out with and the places where I am going.
“First comes the desire, then the action when that lust is not checked.” [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18-50, 354]
Sinful human behavior can easily get out of control.
Men, forcing a woman to be intimate with you is always wrong!
Lust, if unchecked, will lead to more than just viewing images in a magazine or on a screen
It will lead to acting out what you have viewed
Every one of us needs to be in an accountability relationship with another man, so we can live a holy and righteous life
There is freedom from lust and sexual sin through the power of Jesus Christ that transforms us from the inside out
He was attached to her
It can also be translated, “clung to her”
In his lust for Dinah, Shechem does not want to lose her
This is apparent when he asks his father to “get me this girl as my wife.” (Gen. 34:4)
It is also apparent when we find out that Dinah has been held in Shechem’s house since the violation took place (Gen. 34:26)
He loved her
He encouraged her
It can be literally translated that Shechem “spoke upon the heart of the girl”
“The expression occurs ten times in the OT, always in less than ideal situations, where there is a sense of guilt or repentance, where A attempts to persuade B of his feelings.” [Hamilton, 355]
NOTE: Shechem is not apologizing for what he has done, but rather he is trying to convince Dinah that everything is going to be alright
I am certain that Dinah is struggling to feel loved by Shechem
Shechem enlists his father to make the marriage arrangements after the fact – he has gotten the cart before the horse
PRINCIPLE #3 – God is not pleased whenever we try to justify our sin.
How many of us have done that in our own lives
We have tried to make things “right” after we have sinned
How many couples have already been intimate with each other prior to marriage and have even conceived a child out of wedlock?
Some of those couples have gotten married and are still married
I heard of a couple that were intimate before marriage and conceived a child (the couple is from another state, so it is not someone that any of us would know)
They felt like they had to get married, which they did
The husband eventually left the marriage, because he never really wanted to be married
What he really wanted was to experience intimacy without commitment
Justifying our sin is not limited to just the act of intimacy
We may justify having too many alcoholic drinks
We may justify using illegal drugs, because it helps with pain, anxiety, depression, etc.
We may justify not paying all of our taxes
We may justify looking at pornography
We may justify gossiping
Every one of us knows the areas where we justify our sin
#2 – My Next Step Today Is To: Stop justifying my sin, confess it before the Lord, and repent.
Many of us believe that marrying the person we have been intimate with will somehow make things right
That is probably what Shechem was thinking when he asked his father to get Dinah as his wife
The violation had taken place and Dinah had been defiled
Hamor approaches Jacob to negotiate a marriage agreement
Negotiation (vv. 5-24)
Jacob’s reaction (v. 5)
Jacob was home by himself when he learned that Dinah had been defiled
His sons were in the field with the livestock
Jacob remained quiet about it until his sons came home
Jacob does not overreact or do anything hastily
I am sure that he is angry and upset that his daughter had been raped, but he does not do anything rash
That is not the case with his sons
Jacob’s son’s reaction (vv. 6-7)
Hamor went out (same Hebrew word as in verse 1, yāṣā’) to talk with Jacob
Jacob’s sons were there, because they immediately came in from the fields when they heard what had happened to Dinah
They were filled with grief and fury
An uncircumcised man had been intimate with their sister
What Shechem did was something disgraceful against Israel (it was against Jacob and his family)
This was something that should not have been done
As I mentioned earlier, rape is never right
Shechem had not only destroyed and dishonored Jacob’s family, he challenged the normal way of sexual matters for the nation of Israel, and he stripped Jacob of the opportunity to make the choice of who Dinah should marry
Dinah would be considered “used goods,” which would make Jacob’s job of finding her a husband, more difficult
Hamor appeals to them and tries to smooth things over
Hamor’s offer (vv. 8-10)
Hamor tells them that Shechem’s heart is set on Dinah as his wife – of course he was, because he was trying to make right what he had done wrong
Intermarry with us (we will give our daughters to you in marriage and you can give us your daughters in marriage)
Settle among us
The land is open to the Jacobites
They can live it, trade in it, and purchase property of their own (property rights would give the Hebrews full partnership with the Hivites)
Hamor has made his offer to Jacob and his sons, but Shechem is so eager and excited about taking Dinah as his wife that he speaks up and makes a greater offer
Shechem’s plea (vv. 11-12)
Shechem is blinded by “love,” but more likely “lust”
He so desperately wants to find favor in the eyes of Jacob and his sons that he offers them basically a blank check
They could name any bride price they would like and he would make it happen
He was also offering a gift to Dinah as part of the deal
“In the case of a rape of an unbetrothed virgin, the law demanded payment of fifty shekels of silver and marriage without the possibility of divorce (Deut. 22:28-29).” [Waltke, 465]
Shechem was offering more than fifty shekels of silver
Jacob’s son’s proposal (vv. 13-17)
The apple does not fall far from the tree
Because Dinah had been defiled, Jacob’s sons replied deceitfully
They told Hamor and Shechem that they could not give Dinah to an uncircumcised man
It would be a disgrace for their sister to marry a man outside of the family covenant with God [Mathews, 602]
It was deceitful, because they led Hamor and Shechem to believe that the only thing keeping them from intermarrying was circumcision
Jacob’s sons would consent to the marriage on one condition
They would have to become like the Jacobites by having all of the males circumcised
Jacob’s sons would agree to Hamor’s offer of giving and receiving their daughters in marriage, settling among them, and becoming one people with them
If the Hamorite men refused the proposal then they would take their sister and go
“The real sin was with Jacob’s sons, who used the sign of a spiritual covenant with God as an act of treachery to exact revenge. Griffith Thomas points out: Circumcision without faith in the covenant God could not be anything but carnal and earthly. And, worse still, they were about to employ the solemn seal of Divine covenant for the purpose of wreaking their vengeance on these unsuspecting men. 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! (Thomas, 323).” [Gangel & Bramer, 292]
PRINCIPLE #4 – God is dishonored when we take the sacred and make it secular.
What have we taken that is sacred and made it secular
Christmas and Easter could certainly fall into that category, depending on how we celebrate them and what we focus on when we celebrate them
Some people, including Christians, have taken intimacy between a man and woman and have made it secular by practicing it outside of marriage
Our culture has taken God’s design for marriage and made it something He never intended (same-sex marriage)
Our culture has also taken God’s perfect creative power and twisted it by saying that there are more than two genders, male and female
They have also twisted God’s sacred creative power and have basically said that He made a mistake in creating one person male, instead of female and vis-versa
Some people have taken God’s inerrant Word and have said that there are mistakes in it
Some of the preaching and teaching that takes place in churches today is sacrilegious
Some churches have taken the sacred role of pastor and elder and made it secular by allowing homosexuals to serve in those roles
Even some of our worship music has crossed the line from sacred to secular
#3 – My Next Step Today Is To: Confess the areas of my life where I have made the sacred, secular and repent of it.
Shechem did not waste any time
Shechem’s reaction (vv. 18-19)
Hamor and Shechem liked the proposal
Shechem did not lose any time in doing what they said
Some scholars believe that Shechem took a knife and circumcised himself
Others believe he had someone else circumcise him immediately
He wanted to show Jacob and his sons that he was serious about taking Dinah as his wife
He was delighted with Dinah
They both went to the gate of their city to speak with their fellow townsmen
Townsmen’s reaction (vv. 20-24)
Circumcision sales pitch
The men [Jacobites] are friendly towards us
Let them live in our land and trade in it – there is plenty of room
We can marry their daughters and they can marry ours
Here is their only condition – all of our males have to be circumcised, like them
That is a small price to pay, isn’t it?
Eventually their livestock, property, and all their other animals will be ours
So, let us all get circumcised and they will settle among us
They did not tell the townsmen that Shechem had violated one of their women and he was seeking her hand in marriage
They also did not tell the townsmen that they had offered the acquisition of land to them (full partnership with them)
All the men who went out (same Hebrew word as in verses 1 and 6, yāṣā’) of the city gate agreed with Hamor and Shechem
All of the males in the city were circumcised
Imagine for a moment how excited Hamor, Shechem, and the townsmen were, even though they were in pain
Their future seemed bright, because they would eventually absorb the Hebrews and all of their possessions
They had no idea that a trap had been set and was about to be sprung
Retaliation (vv. 25-31)
Three days later
This would have been at the height of their pain from the circumcision
There would also be a fever associated with the operation that would make them feel even worse [Hamilton, 368]
Death of all the males
While they were most vulnerable, Simeon and Levi, along with their servants, attacked the city and killed every male
They also found Hamor and Shechem and put them to death
PRINCIPLE #5 – Chasing sinful desires can be deadly.
How many stories have we heard where someone is intoxicated and leaves a bar with another person who rapes them and/or kills them
There are an increasing number of young people who are dying from fentanyl laced drug use
There are so many other examples of how chasing sinful desires can be deadly
Sinful human behavior can easily get out of control.
They found Dinah in Shechem’s home and left (same Hebrew word as in verses 1, 6, and 24, yāṣā’)
The sons of Jacob is probably referring to the other nine sons
They come upon the dead bodies and start taking the flocks and herds and donkeys and everything else of theirs
They took everything from the houses in the city and everything in the fields
They carried off the women and children also
“… he who pitches his tent toward the world must not be surprised when his kids act like the world.” [Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary, Old Testament, Volume 1: Genesis—Job, 160]
Jacob obviously did not know what Simeon and Levi had planned
When he found out he reprimanded them
“The word for ‘stink’ (bāʾāš) may describe the foul odor emanating from dead fish (Exod 7:18,21) and rotten bread (Exod 16:20).” [Mathews, 609]
“His concerns are tactical and strategic, rather than ethical (as in 49:5-7). He is without the resources to oppose a united force; Jacob has been reduced to a position of vulnerability.” [Hamilton, 371]
Simeon and Levi respond with a rhetorical question
Jacob does not respond
Do you need to protect your children?
Do you need to ask the Lord for wisdom concerning your friends?
Is there a sin(s) that you need to stop justifying and repent of?
Are there areas of your life that you have made the sacred, secular?
“It was a small adjustment that could make a big difference. Sure, it was against NASCAR rules, but almost everyone else was doing it. So crew chief Tim Shutt crawled under the No. 20 car of Mike McLaughlin, who races on the NASCAR Busch circuit.
‘Joe [Gibbs, team owner] is adamant that we don't cheat,’ says Shutt, a relatively new believer who encountered Christ at a Christian retreat for participants in the racing industry. ‘Most teams figure that as long as you get away with it, it's not cheating.’
‘I said to Mike that morning in practice, ‘If we're no good in practice, I'll put this piece—the illegal piece—on.’ Probably 30 other teams are doing it.’ I was justifying it.
‘I got up under the car, I got halfway through putting it on, and that verse, ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God,’ came flashing in red in front of me, and whoa, that was it. I said, ‘I'm leaving this up to you, God.’’ Shutt didn't put the piece on the car.
McLaughlin won the race. It was Talladega, one of the biggest races of 2001.
‘When we won, the first thing that came to my mind was that verse,’ Tim says. ‘God wanted to show himself to me.’”
Source: Victor Lee, Sports Spectrum; reprinted in Men of Integrity (May/June 2002).