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Book Of Genesis – Lesson #22

Lesson 22:  Genesis 33 and Genesis 34

Read Genesis 33:1-11

As Esau drew near, Jacob lapsed back into fearfulness and merely natural behavior, arranging his household in such a way as to afford maximum protection for those he loved most. Jacob bowed himself to the ground seven times as he approached his brother. Esau, by comparison, was relaxed, warm, and open as he met Jacob first, then Jacob’s wives and children. He protested mildly against the extravagant gift of livestock but finally agreed to accept it. Jacob seems to have shown extreme humility to his brother by speaking of himself as his servant. Some commentators think that he resorted to flattery and exaggeration in telling Esau that seeing his face was like seeing God.

Read Genesis 33:12-20

When Esau suggested that they travel back together, Jacob pretended that this would be impossible because of the slow pace required by the children and young animals. Jacob promised to meet Esau in Seir (Edom), although he had no intention of doing so. Even when Esau tried to leave behind some of his men to travel with Jacob’s household, the latter refused the offer without revealing the real reasons—fear and suspicion.

Instead of traveling south to Mount Seir, Jacob went northwest. At length he arrived at Shechem and settled there, erecting an altar which he called El Elohe Israel (God, the God of Israel). Twenty years earlier, when God had appeared to him at Bethel, Jacob had vowed that the Lord would be his God, that he would give a tenth of his wealth to the Lord, and that he would establish Bethel as God’s house (Gen. 28:20-22). Now, instead of returning to Bethel, he settles thirty miles away in the fertile area of Shechem, probably for the sake of his livestock.  Shechem here represents the choosing of convenience, profit, and the world.  God does not speak directly to him until several years later, when He calls on Jacob to fulfill his vow (Gen. 35). In the meantime, the tragic events of Gen. 34 take place.

Read Genesis 34:1-12

The name of God is not mentioned in this chapter, because none of its events are godly in any way. While Jacob and his family were living in Shechem, Dinah his daughter mingled socially with the heathen women, a breach of proper separation from the ungodly. On one such occasion, Shechem, the son of Hamor, sexually assaulted her, but then greatly desired to marry her (making an “honest woman” of her). Realizing that Jacob and his sons were enraged, Hamor proposed a peaceful solution: intermarriage between the Israelites and Canaanites, and full rights for the Israelites as citizens of the land. (Gen. 34:9 can be seen as one of many Satanic attempts to pollute the godly line.) Shechem also offered to pay whatever dowry and gift was requested.

Read Genesis 34:13-24

The sons of Jacob had no intention of giving Dinah to Shechem, but they lied that they would do so if ALL of the men of the city would be circumcised. The sacred sign of God’s covenant was to be used wickedly, in a lie and as a means of destroying an enemy. In good faith, Hamor, Shechem, and all the men of their city met the condition.

Read Genesis 34:25-31

But while the Shechemites were recovering from the surgery, Simeon and Levi treacherously murdered them and stole all of their wealth. When Jacob only handled this horrible act with only a mild rebuke, Simeon and Levi “justified” their actions by saying that their sister should not have been treated like a harlot. Jacob seems to be more concerned about his own welfare than the horrible injustice that had been done to the men of Shechem. Notice his eight uses of the first-person pronoun in Gen. 34:30.