The marriage pact with Hamor and Shechem (Gen 34:6-34:24)

“Hamor the father of Shechem went out to Jacob to speak with him, just as the sons of Jacob came in from the field.  When they heard of it, the men were indignant and very angry, because he had committed an outrage in Israel by lying with Jacob’s daughter, for such a thing ought not to be done.”

As Hamor went to speak with Jacob, the sons of Jacob were returning from the field and became ‘indignant and very angry when they heard what had happened.  They seemed to indicate that such a thing was never done ‘in Israel,’ as if it already existed.

“But Hamor spoke with them, saying, ‘The heart of my son Shechem longs for your daughter.  Please give her to him in marriage.  Make marriages with us.  Give your daughters to us, and take our daughters for yourselves.  You shall live with us.  The land shall be open to you.  Live and trade in it, and get property in it.’  Shechem also said to her father and to her brothers, ‘Let me find favor with you.  Whatever you say to me I will give. Put the marriage present and gift as high as you like, and I will give whatever you ask me.  Only give me the girl to be my wife.’”

Hamor asked for Dinah to marry his son and then says to Jacob that his sons could marry Shechem’s daughters.  We can get along.  Shechem, whom the town is named after, says ‘Let me find favor with you. Whatever you say to me, I will give.’  The marriage gift can be very high.  This is a very strong plea for reconciliation between the two families.  The deed was done.  Should there be punishment or reconciliation?  What was the role and intention of Dinah?

“The sons of Jacob answered Shechem and his father Hamor deceitfully, because he had defiled their sister Dinah.  They said to them, ‘We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one who is uncircumcised, for that would be a disgrace to us.  Only on this condition will we consent to you.  You will become as we are and every male among you be circumcised.  Then we will give our daughters to you, and we will take your daughters for ourselves, and we will live among you and become one people.  But if you will not listen to us and be circumcised, then we will take our daughter, and we will be gone.’”

However, Jacob’s sons were not happy and were not going to give their sister to an uncircumcised man because that would be a disgrace.  Only if all their males would be circumcised will they consent to have his daughters be their wives.  The biblical writer said that they were being deceitful without any explicit indication.

“These words pleased Hamor and his son Shechem. The young man did not delay to do the thing, because he was delighted with Jacob’s daughter.  Now he was the most honored of all his family.   So Hamor and his son Shechem came to the gate of their city and spoke to the men of their city, saying, ‘These people are friendly with us.  Let them live in the land and trade in it, for the land is large enough for them.  Let us take their daughters in marriage, and let us give them our daughters.  Only on this condition will they agree to live among us, to become one people.  Every male among us is be circumcised as they are circumcised.  Will not their livestock, their property and all their animals be ours?  Only let us agree with them, and they will live among us.’  All who went out of the city gate heeded Hamor and his son Shechem.  Every male was circumcised, all who went out of the gate of his city.”

This pleased Hamor and Shechem so that they went to the gate of the city and spoke to the people about how friendly the family of Jacob was.  The gate to the city was where all official business of the town took place.  The sons and daughters of Jacob/Israel could live and trade with them, as well as have marriages with them.  The only condition was that they become circumcised.  The people of the city agreed and all the males were circumcised. It sounds like everything is going well.

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