Genesis: The Beginning
Jacob’s Family 2-1–16
READ: Genesis 34-35
Yesterday, we read about Jacob’s return to Canaan and how he reconciled with Esau. Today, we will look at Jacob’s senior years of life, as well as his family.
Jacob and Leah had a daughter, named Dinah. She was very beautiful and desirable. One day while Dinah was visiting friends, Shechem—a local prince—raped her. He committed a heinous crime against her. But, after raping her he began to fall in love with her and wanted to make things right by winning her affection and marrying her. Shechem’s father, Hamor, approaches Jacob and his sons with the proposal to intermix their cultures and offspring; to merge their people. Hamor asks Jacob to allow Dinah to marry Shechem, as well as arrange the marriages for other sons and daughters. This might have been a good thing for Hamor, because Jacob’s family was very, very, very wealthy. Would Jacob’s sons allow such negotiations?
Shechem comes to speak with Jacob and his sons. He asks for mercy and offers to pay any price for the hand of Dinah in marriage. Jacob’s sons tell him, “We couldn’t possibly allow this, because you’re not circumcised.” (Remember, deception is the fall back from faith and this is a stretch of the truth.) The brothers then come with a solution: If every man in Hamor’s kingdom is circumcised, they will give their blessing. Hamor and Shechem speak to their people and encourage the single men to agree to circumcision; a little physical pain for a lot of material gain. They all agree to greed.
But, while they are vulnerable and healing from circumcision, Jacob’s sons—Simeon and Levi—go into the city and kill all the males including Hamor and Shechem. Dinah is rescued from Shechem’s house and brought back to the camp. When the rest of Jacob’s sons arrive in the city, they notice the slaughter and seize the flocks, herds, loot the wealth and plunder the houses. They take their children and wives away as captives. The crimes committed by Jacob’s sons far outweigh the crime committed by Shechem. When Jacob realizes what his sons have done; he is terribly grieved and begins to fear for all of their lives.
Jacob calls for repentance; he orders his family to get rid of every pagan idol, purify themselves, and change their clothes. This is an outward symbol of a renewed consecration to the LORD. ( NOTE: This is a picture of what the blood of Jesus does for us as sinners, isn’t it? We lay down our sin, allow his grace to cleanse us, and put on his righteous robe! Praise God!) Then Jacob decides to move his family back to Bethel where he has another encounter with God. We all need that next encounter with God, don’t we? Jacob has a redeeming moment with God that would have to sustain him, because life was going to continue being difficult.
Jacob and his camp leave there and head toward Ephrath (Bethlehem). Rachel is pregnant and on the way to Bethlehem she gives birth to another son—Benjamin—but Rachel has complications and dies shortly after the birth. She is buried there. While Jacob is grieving the loss of Rachel, Reuben—his son—defiles Jacob’s marriage bed; Reuben has sex with Jacob’s wife Bilhah. This act costs Reuben his birthright.
Anger and a lack of respect can cause us to make very bad decisions. Retaliation is never a good response even if things are terribly unjust. God asks to be His children’s Vindicator and if we don’t allow Him that place, we will take matters into our own hands and make a mess that continues to leave lasting effects. Let’s learn from Jacob’s family and choose to leave justice with God.