Hamor’s Dubious Offer

Make marriages with us. Give your daughters to us, and take our daughters for yourselves” (Gen. 34:9).

- Genesis 34:8–12

With Jacob’s irresponsibility plain to all, it falls to Dinah’s brothers to confront Shechem for his sin. Unlike their father, they are legitimately upset with how their sister has been treated. They are “indignant and very angry” (Gen. 34:7), an expression indicating the presence of anguish and rage. The Hebrew lying behind this English translation is also used in 6:6 to describe the Lord’s sorrow at having made mankind. Jacob’s sons are gravely outraged at Dinah’s rape.

Shechem’s father, Hamor, understands that Jacob will not be bothered with preserving his daughter’s honor, and so he begins speaking with Dinah’s brothers. Yet while the joining of Dinah and Shechem in marriage might be the just course of action given what has happened (Deut. 22:28–29), Hamor proposes far more than just one wedding. He encourages the children of Israel to join their society to his own, to give their daughters to the inhabitants of the land and to take the Canaanite women as their own wives (Gen. 34:9). Moreover, Hamor offers Jacob’s sons a chance to “dwell and trade” in the land, and to “get property in it” (v. 10), a very appealing offer indeed.

However attractive this proposition seems, it would have been wrong for Israel’s sons to accept it. God strictly forbade large-scale intermarriage between the Israelites and Canaanites (Deut. 7:1–4; Josh. 23:12–13), though the joining of Dinah to Shechem may have been allowed for Dinah’s sake. Furthermore, taking Hamor up on his offer to “get property” (Gen. 34:10) would violate the covenant. The Hebrew term for Hamor’s proposal is the same one the Lord uses in 17:8 when He pledges to give the Promised Land to Abraham’s seed. It was our Father’s will that Israel possess Canaan, but He was the One who must give it over. Hamor’s deal was a temptation for Jacob’s sons to receive the land from him instead of God Almighty.

Hundreds of years after this episode, Satan tempted Jesus similarly, but unsuccessfully, when he offered to give our Savior the reign promised to Him by His Father (Matt. 4:8–10). May we look to Christ for strength so that, like Him, we will resist the Devil and wait patiently for God to bring us that which He has promised.

Coram Deo

There are all sorts of good things promised to us by the Lord, and there are just as many wrong ways to go about obtaining them. We must wait patiently for God to bring these good things to us. This does not mean we become indolent, it simply means we act righteously when seeking His good gifts. For example, we ought not lie to get ahead nor ought we step on others as we climb the corporate ladder. We are not to seek success at the expense of others (Prov. 3:1–4).

Passages for Further Study

Gen. 24:1–9
1 Sam. 13:8–15
Ps. 37:9
Luke 22:47–51

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