Summary: God reminds Jacob that He alone will deliver the promise no matter what happens or who stands against him.
God called Abraham out of Ur and was faithful to fulfill all His promises to him all his life. Abraham made it to the Promised Land and had a son named Isaac. Abraham died at a good old age and God dealt with Isaac just as faithfully as He had with Abraham. Isaac too had a son named Jacob who has repeatedly found that God is faithful to him as well. Jacob received the birthright and the blessing. He was spared from his brother’s wrath and blessed despite his uncle’s conniving. He has wrestled with God and men and prevailed and now he’s safely back in the land promised to Abraham and his descendants.
Soon they will inherit everything they can see because God has promised it.
Now, before we continue, I want you to call to mind the story of Ishmael’s birth. How would Abraham receive a son? When Abraham conceived with Hagar the result was a work of his own flesh which introduced the practice of circumcision. He, and all who followed, was required to cut away the foreskin as a reminder that God’s promises are fulfilled by Him alone and there’s nothing anyone can do to add or take away from it.
Now we come to chapter 34 where we see this principle challenged yet again:
And Dinah the daughter of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land. 2And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her. 3And his soul clave unto Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the damsel, and spake kindly unto the damsel. 4And Shechem spake unto his father Hamor, saying, Get me this damsel to wife. 5And Jacob heard that he had defiled Dinah his daughter: now his sons were with his cattle in the field: and Jacob held his peace until they were come. 6And Hamor the father of Shechem went out unto Jacob to commune with him. 7And the sons of Jacob came out of the field when they heard it: and the men were grieved, and they were very wroth, because he had wrought folly in Israel in lying with Jacob’s daughter: which thing ought not to be done. 8And Hamor communed with them, saying, The soul of my son Shechem longeth for your daughter: I pray you give her him to wife. 9And make ye marriages with us, and give your daughters unto us, and take our daughters unto you. 10And ye shall dwell with us: and the land shall be before you; dwell and trade ye therein, and get you possessions therein. 11And Shechem said unto her father and unto her brethren, Let me find grace in your eyes, and what ye shall say unto me I will give. 12Ask me never so much dowry and gift, and I will give according as ye shall say unto me: but give me the damsel to wife.
Dinah goes to see her friends and while there she’s either seduced or raped by the prince of the country. Whichever it was he falls in love with her and wants to marry her; and this introduces the real tension within the text: will the chosen people of God be reunited with the condemned people of the world? Part of this tension includes the prince’s promise to bless them with material goods and to let them settle in the land. Does the blessing and the right to inhabit the land come from the prince or from God?
It’s not hard to see the parallel with Hagar and Ishmael. Abraham united himself with the woman who allegorizes bondage and the things of the earth (Gal. 4:24). The result was Ishmael who could not be received as an heir of the promise. Now Jacob and his sons are faced with uniting themselves with the Canaanites:
13And the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father deceitfully, and said, because he had defiled Dinah their sister: 14And they said unto them, We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one that is uncircumcised; for that were a reproach unto us: 15But in this will we consent unto you: If ye will be as we be, that every male of you be circumcised; 16Then will we give our daughters unto you, and we will take your daughters to us, and we will dwell with you, and we will become one people. 17But if ye will not hearken unto us, to be circumcised; then will we take our daughter, and we will be gone. 18And their words pleased Hamor, and Shechem Hamor’s son. 19And the young man deferred not to do the thing, because he had delight in Jacob’s daughter: and he was more honourable than all the house of his father. 20And Hamor and Shechem his son came unto the gate of their city, and communed with the men of their city, saying, 21These men are peaceable with us; therefore let them dwell in the land, and trade therein; for the land, behold, it is large enough for them; let us take their daughters to us for wives, and let us give them our daughters. 22Only herein will the men consent unto us for to dwell with us, to be one people, if every male among us be circumcised, as they are circumcised. 23Shall not their cattle and their substance and every beast of theirs be ours? only let us consent unto them, and they will dwell with us. 24And unto Hamor and unto Shechem his son hearkened all that went out of the gate of his city; and every male was circumcised, all that went out of the gate of his city.