Rape is a violation of heart, mind and soul. Rape is never forgotten by the victim or the family. How do we deal with this violation? The following is how NOT how to respond.
Genesis 34, The Message
1-4 One day Dinah, the daughter Leah had given Jacob, went to visit some of the women in that country. Shechem, the son of Hamor the Hivite who was chieftain there, saw her and raped her. Then he felt a strong attraction to Dinah, Jacob’s daughter, fell in love with her, and wooed her. Shechem went to his father Hamor, “Get me this girl for my wife.”
5-7 Jacob heard that Shechem had raped his daughter Dinah, but his sons were out in the fields with the livestock so he didn’t say anything until they got home. Hamor, Shechem’s father, went to Jacob to work out marriage arrangements. Meanwhile Jacob’s sons on their way back from the fields heard what had happened. They were outraged, explosive with anger. Shechem’s rape of Jacob’s daughter was intolerable in Israel and not to be put up with.
8-10 Hamor spoke with Jacob and his sons, “My son Shechem is head over heels in love with your daughter—give her to him as his wife. Intermarry with us. Give your daughters to us and we’ll give our daughters to you. Live together with us as one family. Settle down among us and make yourselves at home. Prosper among us.”
11-12 Shechem then spoke for himself, addressing Dinah’s father and brothers: “Please, say yes. I’ll pay anything. Set the bridal price as high as you will—the sky’s the limit! Only give me this girl for my wife.”
13-17 Jacob’s sons answered Shechem and his father with cunning. Their sister, after all, had been raped. They said, “This is impossible. We could never give our sister to a man who was uncircumcised. Why, we’d be disgraced. The only condition on which we can talk business is if all your men become circumcised like us. Then we will freely exchange daughters in marriage and make ourselves at home among you and become one big, happy family. But if this is not an acceptable condition, we will take our sister and leave.”
18 That seemed fair enough to Hamor and his son Shechem.
19 The young man was so smitten with Jacob’s daughter that he proceeded to do what had been asked. He was also the most admired son in his father’s family.
20-23 So Hamor and his son Shechem went to the public square and spoke to the town council: “These men like us; they are our friends. Let them settle down here and make themselves at home; there’s plenty of room in the country for them. And, just think, we can even exchange our daughters in marriage. But these men will only accept our invitation to live with us and become one big family on one condition, that all our males become circumcised just as they themselves are. This is a very good deal for us—these people are very wealthy with great herds of livestock and we’re going to get our hands on it. So let’s do what they ask and have them settle down with us.”
24 Everyone who was anyone in the city agreed with Hamor and his son, Shechem; every male was circumcised.
25-29 Three days after the circumcision, while all the men were still very sore, two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, each with his sword in hand, walked into the city as if they owned the place and murdered every man there. They also killed Hamor and his son Shechem, rescued Dinah from Shechem’s house, and left. When the rest of Jacob’s sons came on the scene of slaughter, they looted the entire city in retaliation for Dinah’s rape. Flocks, herds, donkeys, belongings—everything, whether in the city or the fields—they took. And then they took all the wives and children captive and ransacked their homes for anything valuable.
30 Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You’ve made my name repulsive to the people here, these Canaanites and Perizzites. If they decided to gang up on us and attack, as few as we are we wouldn’t stand a chance; they’d wipe me and my people right off the map.”
31 They said, “Nobody is going to treat our sister like a whore and get by with it.”
WHAT DO WE LEARN—HOW DO WE RESPOND?
The name of the Lord isn’t mentioned once in this next chapter, and the wisdom of the Lord is surely absent as well. When we disobey the Lord, we put ourselves and our loved ones in danger.
BACKGROUND—The Rapist Never Saw It Coming
The silence of Jacob when he heard the tragic news showed neither indifference nor cowardice on his part. Since his sons were in the field with the sheep and cattle and he could do nothing without their help, he was wise to wait. But he didn’t give his sons any direction in planning their response, which escalated far beyond the original offense.
The Canaanites saw the proposal of Jacob’s family as an opportunity to absorb Israel and gradually possess their wealth and their people, but Jacob’s sons used it as a means to weaken the men and get them ready for slaughter. Never suspecting the danger, the men of the city submitted to the surgery.
Simeon and Levi certainly went too far by slaughtering the Canaanites and looting their city in order to avenge their sister, and Jacob never forgot it (Genesis 49:5–7). “Simeon and Levi are two of a kind, ready to fight at the drop of a hat.” What Simeon and Levi did in revenge is never forgotten by Jacob. By their deception and ruthless destruction, they ruined Jacob’s testimony before the people of the land.
The bloody act of Simeon and Levi made him odious to his neighbors, and he soon moved on to Bethel. Jacob is journeying back to the place his life began. He is going back home to see his father, Isaac.
It has been said that “revenge is sweet”. That is a lie. The truth is “Revenge is mine, says the Lord.” Paul plainly shares God’s thinking as he writes, “Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. ‘I’ll do the judging,’ says God. ‘I’ll take care of it.’” Romans 12:17-19, The Message
Paul goes deeper and explains, “Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.”
Rape is abusive behavior that is remembered forever. Agreed. But revenge, in like manner, compounds the horrendous sin and allows evil to have its day in our heads and hearts. Forgiveness, the opposite of revenge, is freedom from the control the abuser has on us. Forgiveness makes us holy and right with God.
Let God do what he does best. God is for us who believe, repent and live for Him. He knows what we are going through. He comes to us over and over again, just like he did for Jacob, with a way up, through and out of our circumstances with His wisdom for the situation. Forgive. Trust God. Hard? Yes! But our lives depend on it. Let go. Let God.
“Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.” Ephesians 4:26-27, The Message
Stay on the road where God leads. It’s the only way back home to our Father.
Thank you for this message from the mess made in the life of Jacob by his sons. Revenge is not sweet. Revenge is not ours. YOU are God. We are not. Help us to remember you first in our angry moments, knowing you will take care of the enemy who works through those who allow evil to run their lives. May we forgive in our angry realizing that “greater is YOU in us than he (evil) that is in this world.” Help us to forgive others like you forgive us—completely.
In Jesus Name, Amen