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Now Jacob had one daughter, named Dinah, and when Shechem the son of the local governor saw this girl he seized her and either raped her outright, or at the minimum broke through her reserve and had premarital sex with her. But he came under the power of Dinah’s charm. Shechem fell in love with Dinah, and vowed to make her his wife. And Hamor the father of Sechem came to Jacob and his sons and said, “The soul of my son Shechem longeth for your daughter: I pray you give her him to wife. And make ye marriages with us, and give your daughters unto us, and take our daughters unto you. And ye shall dwell with us.”

Jacob let his sons do the talking in this incident, because he was upset that his only daughter had been defiled. His sons said to Hamor that it was impossible to allow Dinah to marry one who was uncircumcised. But if every male in Hamor’s kingdom were circumcised, then intermarriage was possible, because then they would be a single people.

This pleased Hamor, and particularly his son Shechem, who was every bit as smitten with Dinah as Jacob had been with Rachel. So Shechem was the first one to submit to circumcision. Then Hamor and Shechem went to the men of the city and told them all the daughters of Jacob would be available for marriage if they just did the same very small ritual of circumcision that Shechem had submitted himself too. If they only knew that Jacob had only the one daughter, Dinah, they undoubtedly would not have agreed. But they went ahead and did it.

And three days later when the defenders of the city were immobilized by pain from inflammation, Jacob’s sons Simeon and Levi came to the city and slew all the males of fighting age, including Hamor and his son Shechem, and they took their sister Dinah away. Then the other sons of Jacob sacked the whole city, took all their animals and children and wives and everything that was in their houses.

That was pretty good handiwork for boys. Simeon and Levi were 13 and 14 at the time, and they were the oldest ones, except for Reuben!

Jacob was far more circumspect. He was one who understood the consequences of actions. Jacob complained to Simeon and Levi that the worst thing the local Canaanites feared was being cut down one by one, so they will no doubt band together and wipe out Jacob and his entire household as a result of this incident. And his sons are astonished that their father would hold the honor of Dinah of such little account. The vengeful spirits of Jacob’s older sons will come into sharp contrast with gentle Benjamin (who is yet to be born) and especially Joseph, who is sold into slavery by his brothers, but whose only revenge is to craft a dramatic and heart-warming family reunion.

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Strangers In Paradise