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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Genesis 34

 

 

Verse 1

Genesis 34:1 And Dinah the daughter of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land.

Ver. 1. Went out to see the daughters of the land.] Who went abroad at this time, with timbrels, to play, say the Hebrews; kept a solemn feast, saith Josephus. Hence Dinah’s desire to see them. But what saith St Bernard? Si tu otiose spectas, otiose non spectaris: tu curiose spectas, sed curiosius spectaris. Dinah’s wanton gadding, and gazing on others, gave occasion to the adulterer to look and lust after her. See the fruit of her needless getting abroad to see fashions and novelties. The name of a virgin, in the original tongues, (a) is derived from the house hiding; shadow; locked treasure; apple of the eye: to teach them to refrain ill company, and idle gadding. Young women are taught "to be keepers at home". [Titus 2:5] As when they come abroad among men, they must be, if not veiled, as at Venice, yet clothed, and in their right minds, as that demoniac in Luke 8:35. And this not only in winter, that they take no cold; but in the summer, that others take no heat from them, - which may rather burn them, than warm them, - as Shechem here did.


Verse 2

Genesis 34:2 And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her.

Ver. 2. Saw her, he look her, and lay with her.] Ut vidit, periit. By those windows of the eyes and ears, sin and death often enter: through them the devil throws balls of wild fire into the soul, and sets all into a combustion. Visus, colloquium, contactus, osculum, concubitus, do too oft one succeed another. (a) See to the five senses, if ye would keep out the enemy. Shut up the five windows, if ye would have the house, the heart, full of light, saith the Arabian proverb. Joseph’s mistress cast her eyes upon him; but when she laid hands on him, she was the more inflamed, and set agog, as it were. The viewing, touching, or familiar talking with a woman, either without necessary occasion, or then, without prayer for holy affection, is dangerous, saith a grave divine. (b) Thou mayest not look intently upon what thou mayest not love. Democritus the philosopher pulled out his eyes, that he might not look upon forbidden beauties. This was no part of his wisdom: but it shall be ours, by mortification, to pluck the wanton eye out of old Adam, and to set it sober into the new man: to get that occulum irretortum, that well-ordered eye, that Job had; [Job 31:1] that Joseph had; that Gregory Nazianzen had, who could σοφρονιζειν τους οφθαλμους, tutor his eyes; that Charles V, Emperor of Germany, had, who would shut the casements, when at any time he saw fair women afar off, or heard that such were to pass by his window (c) It is not safe to pry into the beauty of a fair woman. Circe (d) often used allusively. may enchant us, the cockatrice slay us with her sight. "Let her not take thee with her eyelids," saith Solomon; [Proverbs 6:25] as larks, while they gaze in a glass, are taken in a hunter’s net. {See Trapp on "Genesis 6:2"} {See Trapp on "Genesis 26:7"}


Verse 3

Genesis 34:3 And his soul clave unto Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the damsel, and spake kindly unto the damsel.

Ver. 3. And his soul clave unto Dinah.] He kicked her not out of doors, as Amnon did Tamar, far sweeter to him in the ambition, than in the fruition; but to make amends, as they call it, by marriage, he seeks to go by the old rule in that case, Et doter, et ducat. Howbeit, marriage, God’s ordinance, is not to be entered into through the devil’s portal.


Verse 4

Genesis 34:4 And Shechem spake unto his father Hamor, saying, Get me this damsel to wife.

Ver. 4: Get me this damsel to wife.] This is praise worthy in Shechem, as bad as he was, that he correcteth his base-born love, or lust rather, by seeking to make her his wife; not without consent of parents on both sides; which, in the Church of Rome, is ofttimes not regarded. Children are a principal part of their parents’ possessions, as Job’s children were accounted by Satan; yea, a piece of themselves. "Have mercy upon me," that is, "upon my daughter". [Matthew 15:22] Fit it is, therefore, that they should by the parents be disposed of in marriage.


Verse 5

Genesis 34:5 And Jacob heard that he had defiled Dinah his daughter: now his sons were with his cattle in the field: and Jacob held his peace until they were come.

Ver. 5. And Jacob heard.] To his very great grief and regret: for she was his only daughter; a damsel of not more than fifteen years of age. The Hebrews say she was afterwards given to Job in marriage; but that is not likely; for she is reckoned anong those that went down to Egypt. [Genesis 46:15]

And Jacob held his peace.] He felt God’s hand upon his back; he therefore lays his own hand upon his mouth. And herein he did better in "ruling his own spirit," than his sons did, that "took the city." [Proverbs 16:32] "He sitteth alone, and is silent," [Lamentations 3:28] saith the prophet of the afflicted person. So was Aaron; [Leviticus 10:3] so was David; [Psalms 39:9] so was the Lord Christ, as a sheep dumb before the shearer. The Romans placed the image of their goddess Angeronia upon the altar of Volupia, with her mouth shut, and sealed up; to signify, saith Macrobius, (a) that they that bridle their grief, and say nothing, shall, by their patience, soon attain to greatest pleasure. Patience in the soul, as the town clerk at Ephesus, [Acts 19:35-36] sends away mutinous thoughts, as he did the many headed multitude; it quiets the boiling spirit, as Christ becalmed the raging sea, with ‘"Peace," and "Be still"; it makes a David dumb - a dumb show, but a very good one; it says, Cedamus: leve fit, quod bene fertur onus.


Verse 6

Genesis 34:6 And Hamor the father of Shechem went out unto Jacob to commune with him.

Ver. 6. And Hamor the father of Shechem,] Unruly youth put their aged parents, many times, to much travail and trouble; as Samson, Shechem, Paris, &c. Green wood is ever shrinking and warping; whereas the well-seasoned holds a constant firmness.


Verse 7

Genesis 34:7 And the sons of Jacob came out of the field when they heard [it]: and the men were grieved, and they were very wroth, because he had wrought folly in Israel in lying with Jacob’s daughter; which thing ought not to be done.

Ver. 7. The men were grieved, and very wroth.] A pair of unruly passions, when combined, especially: they ride one upon the back of another, as kine do in a strait passage; and will make an Alexander kill his best friends, such as he would afterwards have revived, with the best and warmest blood in his own heart.

“Qui non moderabitur irae,

Infectum velit esse, dolor quod suaserit, et mens.”

- Horat.

Because he had wrought folly in Israel.] That is, in the Church, where fornication should "not be once named," much less committed. [Ephesians 5:3] Sin is odious anywhere; most of all among saints. A thistle is unseemly in a garden, filthiness in a vestal, baseness in a prince. And yet, by the malice of Satan, there are, many times, more scandals in the Church than else where: such incest at Corinth, [1 Corinthians 5:1] as not among heathens; such folly in Jacob’s family, as not at Shechem, or Seir. "Sodom, thy sister, hath not done, she nor her daughters, as thou hast done, thou and thy daughters." [Ezekiel 16:48] This is lamentable!


Verse 8

Genesis 34:8 And Hamor communed with them, saying, The soul of my son Shechem longeth for your daughter: I pray you give her him to wife.

Ver. 8. And Hamor communed with them.] A fond father seeks to satisfy the lust of a loose son, whom he should severely have punished; such parents are peremptores potius quam parentes, saith Bernard; like apes, that kill their young with culling them. They show their love as little, as if, by clapping their hands on their children’s mouths, to keep the cold wind from them, they should strangle them to death. A fair hand, here, maketh a foul wound; when correction would be a kind of cure. Severitas tamen non sit tetra, sed tetrica, saith Sidonius. (a) For, as a cur by trying waxeth fiercer, and as new wine breaketh weak vessels; so too much severity overthroweth, and quite spilleth a tender mind.


Verse 9

Genesis 34:9 And make ye marriages with us, [and] give your daughters unto us, and take our daughters unto you.

Ver. 9. And make ye marriages with us.] The world thinks we may do as they; and what need we be so scrupulous and straitlaced? But saints must "walk accurately" (a) [Ephesians 5:15] by line, and by rule; not as unwise, but as wise; having their feet where other men’s heads are: for "the way of the wise is on high," saith Solomon; he goes a higher way to work than others; he may not buckle and stoop to their base courses. Singular things are conferred upon him; singular things are expected from him. An Israelite dare not yoke himself with any Sichemish heifer, that bears not the yoke of Jesus Christ. Those that "stood with the Lamb," had "not defiled themselves with women," &c. [Revelation 14:4] Nec aliunde noscibiles, saith Tertullian of those primitive Christians, quam de emendatione vitiorum pristinorum. (b) They were distinguished from all others by their holy behaviour.


Verse 10

Genesis 34:10 And ye shall dwell with us: and the land shall be before you; dwell and trade ye therein, and get you possessions therein.

Ver. 10. And ye shall dwell with us, &c.] Thus the world tempts the saints, by offer of profits, pleasures, and preferments. Sed surdo cantilenam. For they answer the world, as here, "We,cannot do this thing"; [Genesis 34:14] or, as the children of Israel bespake the king of Edom, "Let us pass, I pray thee, through thy country: we will not pass through the fields of profit, or vineyards of pleasure, &c.; we will go by the king’s highway," chalked unto us in the Holy Scriptures: we will not turn to the right hand, or to the left, for any allurement or affrightment of thine, "until we have passed thy borders". [Numbers 20:17]


Verse 11-12

Genesis 34:11 And Shechem said unto her father and unto her brethren, Let me find grace in your eyes, and what ye shall say unto me I will give.

Ver. 11, 12. Ask me never so much dowry.] Heb., Multiply ye upon me, vehemently. Unbridled affection spares for no cost, so it may be satisfied. Judah parted with his signet, bracelets, and staff to the harlot. [Genesis 38:18] Herod, that old fornicator, bids the dancing damsel ask what she will, to the half of his kingdom. [Matthew 16:7] One there was that would not buy repentance so dear as the harlot demanded. (a) But those miscreants in Micah will give anything for a dispensation to live in sin; they offer "thousands of rams, and ten thousands of rivers of oil; yea, the sons of their body, for the sins of their souls." [Micah 6:7]


Verse 12

Genesis 34:12 Ask me never so much dowry and gift, and I will give according as ye shall say unto me: but give me the damsel to wife.

Ver. 12. {See Trapp on "Genesis 34:11"}


Verse 13

Genesis 34:13 And the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father deceitfully, and said, because he had defiled Dinah their sister:

Ver. 13. Deceitfully, and said, Because he had, &c.] Therefore they thought they had reason to do as they did. Satan doth so bemist men, many times, that they think they have reason to be mad, and that there is some sense in sinning; when as, indeed, our only wisdom is to keep God’s laws; [Deuteronomy 4:6] all which are founded upon so good reason, that, had God never made them, yet it had been best for us to have practised them.


Verse 14

Genesis 34:14 And they said unto them, We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one that is uncircumcised; for that [were] a reproach unto us:

Ver. 14. That were a reproach unto us.] And yet the world reproached them with nothing more than with their circumcision; as it is to be seen in Horace, Juvenal, Tacitus. Appion scoffs at it, and is answered by Josephus. But, as he were a fool that would be mocked out of his inheritance; so he, much more, that would be mocked out of his religion. "Ye have shamed the counsel of the poor," saith David, "because the Lord is his refuge"; because he runs to God by prayer. But to show how little he regarded their reproaches, he falls presently a-praying, "Oh that the salvation of Israel," &c. [Psalms 14:6-7] So Nazareth was a reproach cast upon Christ; and he glories in it: [Acts 22:8] "I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest." He saith not; I am the Son of God, heir of all things, King of the Church, &c.; but, "I am Jesus of Nazareth." "If this be to be vile," said David, "I will be yet more vile." [2 Samuel 6:22]


Verse 15

Genesis 34:15 But in this will we consent unto you: If ye will be as we [be], that every male of you be circumcised;

Ver. 15. That every male of you be circumcised.] Lo, herein was their deceit. How often is religion pretended, made a stale and stalking-horse to worldly and wicked aims and respects! A horrible profanation: as when Naboth was put to death at a fast; Henry VII, Emperor, poisoned in the sacramental bread, by a monk. Herod pretends to worship Christ; intends to worry him, &c. "From such stand off," saith St Paul; [1 Timothy 6:5] or, if ye come near them, "set a mark upon them". [Romans 16:17-18] Foenum habet in cornu.


Verse 16

Genesis 34:16 Then will we give our daughters unto you, and we will take your daughters to us, and we will dwell with you, and we will become one people.

Ver. 16. Then will we give our daughters.] Whether Jacob were present at this whole conference, it is not certain. It is probable that he was not. For surely, he would either have dissuaded them from thus doing; or, if he had consented, he would have said something more to the Shechemites, for their better assurance. It is a maxim in Maehiavel; Fidem tamdiu servandam esse, quamdiu expediat. But Jacob had not known this depth of the devil: his sons better could skill of it. They seem to be somewhat akin to those Thracians, of whom it was anciently said, Eos foedera nescire; that they knew no covenants: or the Turks at this day, whose covenants, grounded upon the law of nations, be they with never so strong capitulations concluded, or solemnity of oath confirmed, have, with them, no longer force, than standeth with their own profit; serving, indeed, but as snares to entangle other princes in. (a) There is no faith, say they, to be kept with dogs; that is, with Christians. (b) And this, perhaps, they have learned of those pseudo-Christians, the Papists, who dealt so perfidiously with them at the great battle of Varna; where Amurath, the great Turk, seeing the great slaughter of his men, in spite of the oath given him by king Ladislaus, dispensed with by the Pope’s legate, and beholding the picture of the crucifix in the displayed ensigns of the voluntary Christians, he plucked the writing out of his bosom, wherein the late league was comprised, and holding it up in his hand, with his eyes cast up to heaven, said, Behold, thou crucified Christ, this is the league thy Christians, in thy Name, made with me, which they have, without cause, violated: Now, if thou be a God, as they say thou art, and as we dream, revenge the wrong now done to thy Name, and me; and show thy power upon thy perjurious people, who, in their deeds, deny thee their God. (c) And it happened out accordingly: for God hates foul and faithless dealing. [Zechariah 5:4 Romans 1:31] Periurii poena divina exitium; humana, dedecus. This was one of the laws of the twelve tables in Rome. (d)


Verse 17

Genesis 34:17 But if ye will not hearken unto us, to be circumcised; then will we take our daughter, and we will be gone.

Ver. 17. But if ye will not hearken.] How often have men found treason in trust, and murder under show of marriage! as in 1 Samuel 18:17; 1 Samuel 18:25, Daniel 11:17, and in the massacre of Paris.


Verse 18

Genesis 34:18 And their words pleased Hamor, and Shechem Hamor’s son.

Ver. 18. And their words.] See the force of love, and hope of profit!


Verse 19

Genesis 34:19 And the young man deferred not to do the thing, because he had delight in Jacob’s daughter: and he [was] more honourable than all the house of his father.

Ver. 19. And the young man deferred not, &c.] Heb., Neque distulit puer; The lad deferred not. He is called a lad or a child, that is, a fool; because he was carried, not by right reason, but blind affection, "walking in the ways of his heart and sight of his eyes". [Ecclesiastes 11:9] And the word (a) used to signify "youth," [Ecclesiastes 11:10] signifieth darkness; to note, that youth is the dark age, hot, and headlong, indeliberate and slippery, such as had need to "cleanse their ways, by cleaving to the Word," saith David; [Psalms 119:9] where the word for "cleansing," properly signifies the cleansing of glass, which, as it is slick and slippery, so, though it be very clean, yet it will gather filth, even in the sunbeams, and of itself: which noteth the great corruption of this age.


Verse 20

Genesis 34:20 And Hamor and Shechem his son came unto the gate of their city, and communed with the men of their city, saying,

Ver. 20. And Hamor and Shechem, &c.] These great men easily persuaded and prevailed with the people to have what they would. Great need have we to pray for good governors. When Crispus believed, who was the chief ruler of the synagogue, many Corinthians believed also. [Acts 18:8] Paul was loath to lose the deputy; because his conversion would draw on many others, is on the contrary, Jeroboam caused Israel to sin; and generally, as the kings were good or evil, so were the people; in which, as in a beast, the whole body follows the head.


Verse 21

Genesis 34:21 These men [are] peaceable with us; therefore let them dwell in the land, and trade therein; for the land, behold, [it is] large enough for them; let us take their daughters to us for wives, and let us give them our daughters.

Ver. 21. These men are peaceable, &c.] Nothing more ordinary, with politicians, than to cover private ends and respects, with pretence of public good: as Jeroboam told the people, it was too much trouble for them to go up to Jerusalem to worship; they should take a shorter cut to Dan and Bethel. So Jehu, in all his reformations, had a hawk’s eye to a kingdom; his main end was, to settle the crown upon his own head. The Turkish Janizaries, desirous to be rid of their Sultan Osman, pretended, and persuaded the people, that he was Jaour, that is, an infidel; and that he endeavoured to betray the Turkish Empire to Christian dogs, May 18, 1622. (a)


Verse 22

Genesis 34:22 Only herein will the men consent unto us for to dwell with us, to be one people, if every male among us be circumcised, as they [are] circumcised.

Ver. 22. If every male among us be circumcised.] {See Trapp on "Genesis 34:26"}


Verse 23

Genesis 34:23 [Shall] not their cattle and their substance and every beast of theirs [be] ours? only let us consent unto them, and they will dwell with us.

Ver. 23. Shall not their cattle, &c.] Profit persuades mightily with the multitude. They all look to their own way; "Every one for his gain from his quarter". [Isaiah 56:11] "Who will show us any good?" is Vox populi .{ Psalms 4:6} And who begs not attention, or inoculates not his faithful endeavour into his friend’s creed and belief, with a tale of gain!


Verse 24

Genesis 34:24 And unto Hamor and unto Shechem his son hearkened all that went out of the gate of his city; and every male was circumcised, all that went out of the gate of his city.

Ver. 24. And every male was circumcised.] Many have lost their blood, and suffered so much trouble for their lusts, as, had it been for religion, they had been martyrs. But the cause, and not the punishment, makes the martyr. Samson and the Philistines died together; sed diverse fine at fate. Multum interest, saith Augustine, et qualia quis, et qualis quisque patiatur.


Verse 25

Genesis 34:25 And it came to pass on the third day, when they were sore, that two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brethren, took each man his sword, and came upon the city boldly, and slew all the males.

Ver. 25. On the third day.] Which is the worst day to those that are wounded; the critical day, as the surgeons call it. Wicked men are witty, to take their opportunity to act villany.


Verse 26

Genesis 34:26 And they slew Hamor and Shechem his son with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah out of Shechem’s house, and went out.

Ver. 26. And they slew Hamor and Shechem.] This is commended in apocryphal Judith { Jdt 9:2} for zeal; which the canonical Scripture condemneth for self-will; and Jacob, on his death bed, cursed it for cruelty, and blessed himself from their assembly. [Genesis 49:6-7] Quest. But why doth he not more sharply reprove it here? Ans. First, he considered God’s just judgment on the Shechemites; who, without the knowledge and faith of God, had profaned the sacrament of circumcision. A sin that God suffers not to pass without a sensible check, [1 Corinthians 11:29-30] in his dearest children; how much less in strangers and enemies? The Donatists, that cast the holy elements of the Lord’s Supper to dogs, were devoured of dogs. He that came without his wedding garment, was taken from the table to the tormerntor. Secondly, Jacob gave place, for present, to his sons’ rage and fury. Discretion in the choice of seasons for reproving, is no less necessary than zeal and faithfulness in reproving. Good physicians use not to evacuate the body, in the extremities of heat and cold. Good mariners do not hoise up sail in every wind.


Verse 27

Genesis 34:27 The sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and spoiled the city, because they had defiled their sister.

Ver. 27. Because they had defiled their sister.] So it was just in God, though unjust in the instruments; who were therefore cursed by Jacob; [Genesis 49:7] but yet not rejected by God. His election is of free grace, and not of foreseen faith or works.


Verse 28

Genesis 34:28 They took their sheep, and their oxen, and their asses, and that which [was] in the city, and that which [was] in the field,

Ver. 28. They took their sheet, &c.] One only sinned; all suffered. "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump". [1 Corinthians 5:2; 1 Corinthians 5:6] All the Corinthians were tacked with, and taxed for, the incestuous man’s offence, because they bewailed it not, repressed it not He knew what he did, that prayed for pardon of his other men’s sins.


Verse 29

Genesis 34:29 And all their wealth, and all their little ones, and their wives took they captive, and spoiled even all that [was] in the house.

Ver. 29. And all their wealth,] Or, Power: for in a man’s wealth is his power; yea, it is his "tower of strength," [Proverbs 18:11] and so much he is valued at, as he is able to disburse. {See Trapp on "Genesis 31:1"}

And spoiled even all that was in the house.] So dealt Minerius at Merindol; Charles V, at Magdeburg; the bloody Papists, at the Parisian massacre. But when the Lord came to "make inquisition for blood, he remembered them." [Psalms 9:12] He drew articles of inquiry against them, as strict, and as critical, as ever the Spanish Inquisition; and dealt with them accordingly. Cambyses lighting off his horse, after he had been showing great cruelty to them of Athens, his sword flew out of the scabbard, and slew him. (a) If these brethren in iniquity sped better, they may thank a good God, whose terror fell upon the adjacent cities. For they did enough to undo, not themselves only, but their father, and his whole family. It was good counsel to such, that Tertullian gives to bloody Scapula; Si nobis non parcis, tibi parce: si non tibi, Carthagini: See thou undo not thyself and thy city by thy cruelty to Christians.


Verse 30

Genesis 34:30 And Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, 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.

Ver. 30. Are have troubled me.] In mind and estate, (a) and many such trouble houses and trouble towns there are abroad. All places are full of them, and so is hell too. There God will trouble them another while, as he did Achan, [Joshua 7:25] when he will show mercy to such Jacobs in whose families that is committed that they abhor.

I being few in, number.] So the saints were ever a little flock, a poor few to the many; jewels, nothing so much in bulk as lumber; strangers, few, in respect of home dwellers; sons of God, few, to common subjects. When Christ "came to his own, his own received him not." [John 1:12] He wondered at one good Nathanael, and set a "Behold" upon him, as a rare bird. [John 1:47]


Verse 31

Genesis 34:31 And they said, Should he deal with our sister as with an harlot?

Ver. 31. Should he deal with our sister as with an harlot?] Why, no: but should you therefore speak so boldly to your father, and deal so cruelly with your confederates; whom you first cheated into a covenant, and then basely butchered, when not able to help themselves? But anger is outrageous, and forethinks not what will follow hereafter, or becomes a man for present. Bridle it therefore. The word harlot is written with a great letter in the original ז, to show with what a courage they spake it. {Hebrew Text Note}

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Genesis 34:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/genesis-34.html. 1865-1868.

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