Scripture Reading: Genesis 34 (NRSV)
Today’s reading won’t appear in any children’s bibles. As we see the violence done to Dinah, the strange turn is that the offender develops stronger feelings for her. Or at least, he desires her further and wants to make her his wife. Of course, in this culture and time, Dinah could then be subject to the same treatment on a daily basis.
The sons of Jacob use their own religious practice of circumcision to their advantage. Shechem must have had an impressive sway over the Hivites in that everyone agrees to be circumcised so that Shechem can marry Dinah.
Dinah’s brothers Simeon and Levi then go through and slaughter all the Hivites while they were recovering from this delicate surgery. It is interesting that Levi’s descendants become the priests of the Israelites.
Protecting those in our own pack
may be somewhat instinctual for us.
While Jacob recognizes that this response was over the top, his sons are concerned about the honor of the family.
Later, Mosaic law would limit vengeance to an “eye for an eye” perhaps to keep individual disputes from turning into generational campaigns of families or tribes.
Jesus surely knew of this story and seems to side with Jacob rather than his sons. He mentions in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:38-39),
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’
However, Jesus also mentions that pride can defile a person. So we remember that it is important for self-esteem but it can also incite us to take it too far as we see in today’s scripture.
Deep peace of the running wave to you,
Deep peace of the flowing air to you,
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you,
Deep peace of the shining stars to you,
Deep peace of the Son of Peace to you, for ever.
Prayer from the Celtic tradition, early Scottish.
Photo by Jenniferschwalm via Flickr.com. Used under the Creative Commons license.