Jacob acts like a refugee, full of fear and passivity. The chapter interestingly revolves around the word “see,” and in the first mention, Dinah as a teenager goes exploring and looking for new friends. Prince Shechem “sees” her and rapes her. He made her suffer, which is what the Hebrew word, often translated as force or humiliated literally means. The weak translations are possibly due to the confusing language describing Shechem. He now claims to love Dinah, and afterward speaks sweetly to her, which should be thought of as creepy, and then forces his father to “get this girl for my wife.”
It’s fair to conclude this wasn’t the first time for Shechem, who likely was serial rapist.
For the record, Dinah doesn’t return the affection.
While Jacob’s response is passive, his sons react differently.
Circumcision as revenge
The text begins to highlight the inner workings of Jacob’s sons. They’re angry at their father for his weak response, “such a thing must not be done,” the text says.
Hamor, Shechem’s father acts with exuberance and overjoyed confidence. He mentions nothing of the rape, only that his son’s “soul longs for your daughter.” Hamor is following ancient customs of bartering for tribal marriage. The first line of negotiation is toward further inter- tribal marriage, ensuring a new family is created, with Hamor promising land and properity, something God already promised to Jacob.
Shechem speaks seemingly out of turn and over his father, declaring any bride price should be asked for, his only request is for Jacob to “give me the young woman.”
Jacob’s sons now speak out of turn and are intent on deceiving Hamor and Shechem. Oddly enough, the word for deception is the same Hebrew word used to describe Jacob’s actions in stealing Esau’s blessing. Dinah’s brothers speak of her as their daughter, and the bartering comes to a final offer, all Hamor and Shechem’s men must circumcise themselves in order for Dinah to stay with them.
The brothers were never going to let her stay with them.
In a morbid way, the idea of surgery for great sex and maybe lots of money seemed like a good idea, so Hamor and Shechem convinced their men to circumcise themselves, and they all did it.
The 3rd Day
As is to be expected, the men were physically incapable of doing anything, the word “sore” literally means they’re in tremendous pain. Now clearly explained, Dinah was not only raped by Shechem but kidnapped, he took Dinah home and was never going to let her go until he was done with her. Simeon and Levi personally carry out the revenge killings and free their sister.
In a bit of possible foreshadowing, Reuben as the oldest didn’t participate in the revenge/rescue operation, seems much less prone to violence, nor does he in a few chapters want to see Joseph lynched, as his brothers requested. Later when the brothers visit Joseph in Egypt, Joseph will “bind Simeon before their eyes,” possibly because Simeon’s blood thirst eventually came toward Joseph, something the soon to be Prime Minister of Egypt would never forget.
In acting ruthlessly, Jacob’s family begins to look like their neighbors.