The Fornication of Shechem with Dinah

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Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the women of the land; and when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of the land, saw her, he seized her and lay with her and humbled her. And his soul was drawn to Dinah the daughter of Jacob; he loved the maiden and spoke tenderly to her. So Shechem spoke to his father Hamor, saying, “Get me this maiden for my wife.” Now Jacob heard that he had defiled his daughter Dinah; but his sons were with his cattle in the field, so Jacob held his peace until they came. And Hamor the father of Shechem went out to Jacob to speak with him. The sons of Jacob came in from the field when they heard of it; and the men were indignant and very angry, because he had wrought folly in Israel by lying with Jacob’s daughter, for such a thing ought not to be done.

But Hamor spoke with them, saying, “The soul of my son Shechem longs for your daughter; I pray you, give her to him in marriage. Make marriages with us; give your daughters to us, and take our daughters for yourselves. You shall dwell with us; and the land shall be open to you; dwell and trade in it, and get property in it.” Shechem also said to her father and to her brothers, “Let me find favour in your eyes, and whatever you say to me I will give. Ask of me ever so much as marriage present and gift, and I will give according as you say to me; only give me the maiden to be my wife.”

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: that you will become as we are and every male of you be circumcised. Then we will give our daughters to you, and we will take your daughters to ourselves, and we will dwell with 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.”

Their words pleased Hamor and Hamor’s son Shechem. And the young man did not delay to do the thing, because he had delight in Jacob’s daughter. Now he was the most honoured 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 men are friendly with us; let them dwell in the land and trade in it, for behold, 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 the men agree to dwell with us, to become one people: that every male among us be circumcised as they are circumcised. Will not their cattle, their property and all their beasts be ours? Only let us agree with them, and they will dwell with us.” And all who went out of the gate of his city hearkened to Hamor and his son Shechem; and every male was circumcised, all who went out of the gate of his city.

On the third day, when they were sore, two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, took their swords and came upon the city unawares, and killed all the males. They slew Hamor and his son Shechem with the sword, and took Dinah out of Shechem’s house, and went away. And the sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and plundered the city, because their sister had been defiled; they took their flocks and their herds, their asses, and whatever was in the city and in the field; all their wealth, all their little ones and their wives, all that was in the houses, they captured and made their prey. Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought trouble on me by making me odious to the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites and the Perizzites; my numbers are few, and if they gather themselves against me and attack me, I shall be destroyed, both I and my household.” But they said, “Should he treat our sister as a harlot?” (Genesis 34:1-31).

It is clear that Shechem truly loved Dinah. The Bible says, “And his soul was drawn to Dinah the daughter of Jacob; he loved the maiden and spoke tenderly to her” (Genesis 34:3). The testimony of Hamor his father was, “The soul of my son Shechem longs for your daughter; I pray you, give her to him in marriage” (Genesis 34:8). His love for her was such that he was prepared to pay any price so as to have her as his wife. For example, he was prepared to pay anything that was demanded as a marriage present or gift. He said to her father and brothers, “Ask of me ever so much as marriage present and gift, and I will give according as you say to me; only give me the maiden to be my wife” (Genesis 34:12). When he and his people were asked to be circumcised so that the marriage might become possible, he accepted it gladly and acted upon it promptly. The Bible says, “And the young man did not delay to do the thing, because he had delight in Jacob’s daughter” (Genesis 34:19). His love for her was not mere sexual lust, for if it had been, he would have lost interest in her after he had humbled and defiled her. He was interested in marriage and not merely in having a sexual relationship. He wanted something that was permanent and not just the passing.

The way that Shechem felt for Dinah and the price he was prepared to pay in order to have her as his wife, are solid and excellent. However, Shechem made a fatal mistake. He thought that he could start by having a sexual relationship with her and get the rest sorted out afterwards. He did not maintain the position of God on the issue which demands that a man should love a girl, ask the parents for her, have the girl given to him, before he can have a sexual relationship with her. Right from the beginning of creation, God ordained that a man should leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and then they shall become one flesh (Genesis 2:24). So, God ordained that there should be a leaving, a cleaving and then the one flesh. Shechem decided on his own order: one flesh, leaving and cleaving. For disobeying God’s order of things, he suffered terribly.

First of all, his soul was drawn to Dinah, partly because of the sexual act, in a way that made him lose control of things. He was prepared to arrange a union with Jacob and his sons; a union which he did not think about before he committed fornication with Dinah. He was prepared to be circumcised for no other reason than to have Dinah for a wife. He was also prepared to have all the men of his tribe circumcised, just so that he might be able to marry Dinah, without thought of what might happen to them. The sexual act caused him to lose his head completely.

Secondly, he was prepared to practise deceit. In talking to his fellow tribesmen, he hid the real reason why he wanted the two peoples to become one. The reason was his passion, but he made it look as if it was going to be gain for the people. He knew that if he told the people the truth, they would not be prepared to come along with him. Had he not committed the fornication, he would not have needed to lie.

Thirdly, he opened doors for others to sin. The sons of Jacob spoke to him and his father deceitfully. They had no intention of ever becoming one people with them. They also had no intention of having him marry Dinah. However, they lied that they would do these things. The sin of Shechem then opened doors for others to sin.

The Bible says that the wages of sin is death. Proverbs warns against immorality in the following terms: “My son, keep your father’s commandment, and forsake not your mother’s teaching. Bind them upon your heart always; tie them about your neck. When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you. For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life, to preserve you from the evil woman, from the smooth tongue of the adventuress. Do not desire her beauty in your heart, and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes; for a harlot may be hired for a loaf of bread, but an adulteress stalks a man’s very life. Can a man carry fire in his bosom and his clothes not be burned? Or can one walk upon hot coals and his feet not be scorched? So is he who goes in to his neighbour’s wife; none who touches her will go unpunished. Do not men despise a thief if he steals to satisfy his appetite when he is hungry? And if he is caught, he will pay sevenfold; he will give all the goods of his house. He who commits adultery has no sense; he who does it destroys himself. Wounds and dishonour will he get, and his disgrace will not be wiped away. For jealousy makes a man furious, and he will not spare when he takes revenge. He will accept no compensation, nor be appeased though you multiply gifts” (Proverbs 6:20-35).

Adultery stalks a man’s very life. Fornication also stalks a man’s very life. He who commits adultery has no sense; he who does it destroys himself. He who commits fornication also has no sense; he who does it destroys himself. Shechem committed fornication. He had no sense. He destroyed himself. No compensation or multiplication of gifts could change the situation.
He lost his own life.
He caused his father to lose his own life.
He caused his tribesmen to lose their lives.
He caused all their property to pass into the hands of others.
He abandoned “the reproofs of discipline,” and they, too, abandoned him!

We have looked at the consequences of the sin of Shechem on himself, his father and his people. One question remains to be looked into, and that is the consequences of that act of adultery on Dinah.

First of all, it would seem that Dinah was not totally without guilt. She went out on her own to visit the women of the land. She ought to have known that it was risky. She ought to have gone with one of her brothers or not to have gone at all. She was imprudent. She might even have yielded to an invitation or an enticement to visit Shechem. It would seem obvious that she was, to some extent, an accomplice in the act. After it happened, she remained in Shechem’s house. She, too, was interested in the marriage, for she had stayed in Shechem’s house in the hope that her family would consent. In fact, there is nothing that indicates the fact that she was sorry about the sin or about the subsequent plans. It would seem that deep down in her heart, the standards of sexual purity were low, and the type of man she would like to marry as well as his spiritual condition were unsettled.

She was not cautious. She was imprudent and so she was used. She lost her virginity, and the first man who knew her, died in trying to arrange and sort out things that would permit his marrying her. That was a horrible beginning and something bad for the memory of a young woman to bear for the rest of her life!

The silly girl or woman who goes about visiting men is running a risk. Anything could happen to her. Every visit, trip, and the like, that does not originate in the heart of God, is likely to become a visit that ends in the arms of a Shechem, and there are many such men waiting for such silly women.

A person does not need to plan sin in advance to become an adulterer or a fornicator. He just has to be imprudent. All he needs is to be unwise. Yes, all he needs is to be idle. All he needs is to go on journeys to which the Lord has not sent him, and that may be the way to a moral grave. This caution is not only for women. It is not only women who may fall into the hands of evil and calculating men. There are silly men who can also fall into the traps of scheming adulteresses. The following Bible passage tells of the doom of one such man. Let us look at it and learn from his folly. The Word of God says, “My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you; keep my commandments and live, keep my teachings as the apple of your eye; bind them on your fingers, write them on the tablet of your heart. Say to wisdom, ‘You are my sister,’ and call insight your intimate friend; to preserve you from the loose woman, from the adventuress with her smooth words. For at the window of my house I have looked out through my lattice, and I have seen among the simple, I have perceived among the youths, a young man without sense, passing along the street near her corner, taking the road to her house in the twilight, in the evening, at the time of night and darkness. And lo, a woman meets him, dressed as a harlot, wily of heart. She is loud and wayward, her feet do not stay at home; now in the street, now in the market, and at every corner she lies in wait. She seizes him and kisses him, and with impudent face she says to him: ‘I had to offer sacrifices, and today I have paid my vows, so now I have come out to meet you, to seek you eagerly, and I have found you. I have decked my couch with coverings, coloured spreads of Egyptian linen; I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon. Come, let us take our fill of love till morning; let us delight ourselves with love. For my husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey; he took a bag of money with him; at full moon he will come home.’ With much seductive speech she persuades him; with her smooth talk she compels him. All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a stag is caught fast till an arrow pierces its entrails; as a bird rushes into a snare; he does not know that it will cost him his life” (Proverbs 7:1-23).

This young fool chose the wrong road. He also chose the wrong time - the time of the night and darkness. He did not read the message written on her clothes. He refused to read the warnings that were so obviously written in her words. He believed he was special, refusing to face the fact that he was a special fool, for she might have attempted to trap others but failed. He listened to the preparations she had made and thought he could enjoy himself with what was forbidden. He yielded to her seductive speech and refused to resist her compelling moves. He followed her without further thought and went into his death. The man who will follow the wife of another man or an unmarried woman into a sexual relationship, is following her to his death and hers! For this reason the Word of God warns, “And now, O sons, listen to me, and be attentive to the words of my mouth. Let not your heart turn aside to her ways, do not stray into her paths; for many a victim has she laid low; yea, all her slain are a mighty host. Her house is the way to Sheol, going down to the chambers of death” (Proverbs 7:24-27).

The Word of God says that she has laid many victims low. Do not become one of them! The Word of God further says, “Her house is the way to Sheol - the land of the dead.” Do not walk that way. The Bible says that her house is the way that goes to the chambers of death. Do not walk past that way.

Dinah walked foolishly and was trapped! She ought to have been wise. The damage to her - the loss of her virginity - was permanent. She should have been wiser.

As for you, keep God’s Word in your heart. Keep it continually before you. Do not permit yourself the luxury of an experiment with sin. The results may be disastrous. You may not live to tell the story. It will cost you your spiritual life. It will bring you spiritual death. It may also bring you physical death! The Bible says, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:15-17). The will of the Lord is that you be sanctified; that you abstain from fornication and adultery (1 Thessalonians 4:3). The apostle Peter counsels, “Therefore gird up your minds, be sober, set your hope fully upon the grace that is coming to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; since it is written. ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’ And if you invoke as Father him who judges each one impartially according to his deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile” (1 Peter 1:13-17).

(From the book Freedom from the Sin of Fornication and Adultery Chp one pg 9)

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