GENESIS - CHAPTER 34
A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough
Copyright 2000 James Melough
34:1. “And Dinah the daughter of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land.”
Dinah, like Dan, means judgment. Here she is presented as the daughter of Leah, whom we have seen to represent submission to law-keeping. But she is also the daughter of Jacob, who represents the flesh in the believer. As the product therefore, of the flesh joined to law-keeping, Dinah represents that spirit of submission to mere moral judgment so frequently found both in the unconverted moralist, and in the carnal believer.
The Amplified Old Testament rendering of this verse is “Now Dinah ... went out unattended....” When judgment “goes out unattended,” that is, is exercised apart from faith and love and without the direction of God’s Word, the results can never be anything except disastrous, as this present chapter so clearly teaches.
It is not that judgment has no place in the believer’s life - it has. There are many things we are to judge, including ourselves, but that judgment must always be exercised in submission to God’s Word, and in a spirit of love. These necessary conditions automatically preclude the exercise of right judgment by the unsaved, as they also limit very considerably its exercise by the carnal believer.
These daughters whom Dinah went out to see were Canaanites, but we have seen that the Canaanite represents those who are mere traffickers in spiritual things. As daughters therefore, these Canaanite girls represent the submission of the mere spiritual trafficker to such moral restrictions as he might consider expedient. Dinah’s going out to see them therefore, portrays that critical judgment of the legalistic believer, which employs itself in judging the religious activities of the unconverted, but which, because it has no love for them, will not go on to an activity that would seek to win them for Christ.
34:2. “And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her.”
Shechem, in this present context, as was discussed in our study of chapter 33:19, represents the strength of the old nature as expressed in the lusts of the flesh. His father was Hamor an ass, but since the ass represents the body as the servant of the flesh, this continues to emphasize that Shechem does represent the strength of the old nature expressing itself through the lusts of the flesh. They were Hivites showers of life: livers, and their being such shows them to be representative of those, who even though they have no knowledge of God, would nevertheless undertake to show others how to live, that is, how to get to heaven. The spiritual Hivite still exists wherever we find an unsaved man undertaking to show others the way to heaven.
Shechem’s alliance with Dinah therefore, represents the natural man’s decision to adopt the same spirit of critical judgment (mistaking it for spiritual life) as is found in the legalistic believer and in the unconverted professor. That spirit has no rightful place in the life of a believer, and much less does it have a place in the life of the unconverted. If the man who is justified through faith in Christ has no right to such a spirit, certainly the unjustified man has even less right. His adoption of it only adds to his condemnation.
In treating her as he did, he forced her into a role that belongs only to a wife, but she wasn’t his wife, and in fact never became his wife. The wife represents the expression of a man’s spiritual life, so that Shechem’s failure to ever obtain Dinah as his wife simply declares symbolically that the spirit of critical judgment which Dinah represents can never take the place of spiritual life. Significant confirmation of this truth lies in the fact that there is no mention in Scripture that Dinah ever married. She never became a wife: that is, she never became representative of the expression of spiritual life.
Pride is the companion of self-righteous critical judgment, and it is worth noting that in Dinah’s being taken by Shechem she was defiled (literally, humbled). That same spirit, whether it be in saint or sinner, will always meet the same end - it will be humbled.
34:3. “And his soul clave unto Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the damsel, and spake kindly unto the damsel.”
The natural man, seeking justification through any means other than faith in Christ, similarly “loves” the spirit of critical judgment, and will seek to embrace it as true spiritual life.
It is significant that she is described as “the daughter of Jacob” rather than as “the daughter of Israel.” Jacob bespeaks the influence of the old nature, as Israel does that of the new. The character of the old nature is imprinted on this whole sordid chapter. Dinah represents the wrong kind of judgment. She was the product of Jacob (the flesh in the believer) and Leah (legalistic morality).
34:4. “And Shechem spake unto his father Hamor, saying, Get me this damsel to wife.”
Since Shechem represents the strength of the old nature; and Hamor, the body as the servant of that nature, their conversation seems to represent the reasoning of the old nature. That reasoning produces the decision of the old nature to take to itself what Dinah represents - the spirit of critical judgment. Satan deludes multitudes into believing that the adoption of such a spirit is true conversion, and that the more zealously they apply this judgment to themselves and to others, the more secure they make their salvation. As the sequel shows, however, the adoption of such a spirit ends in death. Shechem wanted Dinah for his wife, but the spirit of judgment, which Dinah represents, can never take the place of what the wife represents - the expression of spiritual life. (We would emphasize again that the godly wife represents the expression of genuine spiritual life; the ungodly wife, what the natural man mistakes for true spiritual life).
34:5. “And 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.”
As Jacob’s daughter, Dinah represents the spirit of critical judgment in the believer. Her defilement at the hands of Shechem therefore, portrays the abuse of judgment by the old nature. Such abuse occurs when we exercise judgment towards others, but fail at the same time to act towards them in love.
Sons, as we have seen, represent the activity of the will, as daughters represent its passivity. It is significant therefore, that at the time of Dinah’s defilement, Jacob’s sons were with his cattle in the field. The field represents the world, and the cattle speak of the world’s business. What represents the activity of Jacob’s will was busy, not with spiritual things, but with worldly. Small wonder, then, that what represents the passivity of his will should suffer defilement at the hand of the old nature while the activity of his will was busy with worldly things.
The lesson we may learn from this is that our wills, both as to activity and passivity, must be in harmony. We can’t expect the passivity of the will to be right if the activity of the will is wrong.
”... Jacob held his peace until they (his sons) were come.” Jacob did nothing about this matter until his sons returned from the field. The believer similarly will do nothing about what concerns the passivity of his will until the activity of his will
“comes in from the field,” that is, ceases its occupation with the things of the world. Too often we make the mistake of thinking that we can be passively obedient to God, while at the same time, we are being actively disobedient. Passive obedience must be matched by active obedience. It is not sufficient that we refrain from evil: we must also actively do good.
34:6. “And Hamor the father of Shechem went out unto Jacob to commune with him.”
The old nature is always willing, is anxious in fact, to “commune” with the believer in an attempt to have him adopt its methods. In the present instance the plan is to take Dinah out from under Jacob’s control and place her as a wife under the control of Shechem. This translates into the spiritual truth that it is the attempt of the old nature to have under its control the spirit of submission to judgment, which Dinah, as Jacob’s daughter, represents. The spirit of submission to judgment, however, must never be given over to the control of the old nature. It was Dinah’s temporary absence from Jacob’s control that precipitated all this trouble in the first instance.
34:7. “And 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.”
Since Jacob’s sons represent the activity of his will, and their being in the field with the cattle represents the truth that the activity of his will was being devoted to the world’s business instead of God’s, their coming in from the field portrays the turning of the will from its occupation with worldly affairs to devote itself to spiritual things. As the sequel reveals, however, that activity was just as much “unattended” as had been the passivity - and the results were even worse.
It was the news of what had happened to Dinah that brought them in from the field. We have noted already that Dinah’s defilement at the hand of Shechem portrays the misuse of judgment by the old nature. It happens not infrequently that the evil resulting from such misuse arouses the activity of the will, but unfortunately not always to a godly activity. In the present instance it was a very ungodly activity.
“... the men were grieved.” Grief must always be the companion of “unattended” judgment, that is, of judgment used by the old nature acting under the impulse of fleshly lust.
“... and they were very wroth.” In Jas 1:20 it is written, “The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God,” and in Pr 27:4 we read, “Wrath is cruel.” Jacob’s dying comment upon what the wrath of his sons had wrought is recorded in Ge 49:7, “Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce: and their wrath, for it was cruel: I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.”
”... because he (Shechem) had wrought folly in Israel, in lying with Jacob’s daughter.” The old nature’s misuse of judgment does indeed work folly in the household of faith; but anger on the part of the members of that household will not undo the folly.
“... which thing ought not to be done.” But for Dinah’s unattended excursion among the Canaanites, this folly would have been impossible. The old nature should never be given the opportunity to use judgment, for it will prove to be but a misuse producing terrible results.
34:8. “And Hamor communed with them, saying, The soul of my son Shechem longeth for your daughter: I pray you give her him to wife.”
Having communed with Jacob in verse six, Hamor now communes with Jacob’s sons. Translated into spiritual language this declares that the old nature, having taken advantage of the believer’s passive will, will then “commune” with him in an attempt to minimize the wrong. Next, it will address itself to his active will. Having abused judgment through the lusts of the flesh, the old nature will then seek to gloss over the abuse, and plead for a legitimate union between violated judgment and the violator. But judgment must never be wedded to the lusts of the flesh. The lapse that may occur through carelessness on the part of the passive will, must not become a permanent condition enjoying the sanction of the active will.
“... the soul of my son Shechem longeth for your daughter.” The lusts of the flesh long to have the believer’s passive will become its “wife,” that is, be subject to it. In addition, it desires to have its sinful activity approved by the believer’s active will.
34:9. “Make ye marriages with us, and give your daughters unto us, and take our daughters unto you.”
Hamor would not only have his son married to Jacob’s daughter, he would also have all the daughters in Jacob’s household become the wives of those who were Canaanites generally, and Hivites in particular - mere traffickers in spiritual things, undertaking to show others how to live. Spiritually this represents the attempt of the flesh to remove the barrier that God has placed between it and the Spirit. The subtilty of Satan, working through the old nature, is discernible in every line of this passage. Having overcome one member of the household of faith by the strength of the lusts of the flesh, he will then proceed to give the sin the appearance of legitimacy, and thereby entice others into sin, because he has succeeded in making it appear not to be sin.
The order by which the sin progresses is instructive. It is first “give your daughters unto us,” followed by “take our daughters unto you.” First the daughters of faith are to be given to the Hivites. This speaks of surrendering first the believer’s passive will to the control of the old nature. Then the sons are to marry the Hivites’ daughters. Since the wife represents the expression of the man’s spiritual life, this would have a “Hivite” occupy the place that belongs only to an “Israelite.” Satan would have a mere outward form - right in man’s judgment, but wrong in God’s sight - become the expression of the believer’s new life.
Isn’t this the very process by which Satan has destroyed many a Christian testimony? First, there has been sin through the overcoming of the passive will by the power of fleshly lusts. Then there has been the attempt to excuse the sin as of little account, followed by the attempt to make the sin appear not to be sin but right conduct. And the contagion quickly spreads. The wrong conduct of one soon becomes the standard for all. The sad result is that faith’s submissive will is given over to the control of the lusts of the flesh, followed quickly by faith’s active will being joined also to evil.
Much of the ruin so apparent in the Church today has come in by this very process.
It is significant that Hamor and his people were Hivites, i.e., representative of the unconverted who would nevertheless undertake to instruct others as to how to get to heaven. The natural man, though he himself knows not Christ as the Way and the Life, is frequently all too ready to show others how to live. He will show them a way to God that doesn’t require them to give up sin, but God says, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Pr 14:12). And a way of death indeed Hamor’s way proved to be, both for himself and all who heeded his advice.
33:10. “And ye shall dwell with us: and the land shall be before you; dwell and trade ye therein, and get you possessions therein.”
The flesh chafes at the divinely imposed restriction that permits no traffic between it and the Spirit. It longs to remove that barrier so that it may destroy the life of the Spirit in the believer. Two natures, the old and the new, dwell in the believer’s body, but there can be no communion between them. “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty,” (2 Co 6:14-18).
As an inducement to overlook the defilement of Dinah, and as an incentive for the Israelites to become one with the Hivites, Hamor says, “All the land shall be before you....” It is by this same strategy that Satan has drawn multitudes of believers into forbidden alliances. He offers them the world, and encourages them to become earth-dwellers rather than pilgrims and strangers. He says, “Trade ... and get you possessions,” knowing that as believers are busy with the world’s business, God’s business will be neglected. As believers are busy acquiring earthly wealth they will be correspondingly poor in heavenly treasure, and the same trap that robs the believer of eternal reward, robs the unbeliever of eternal life.
33:11. “And 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.”
Since Shechem represents the strength of the old nature working through the lusts of the flesh, his statement simply reflects the desire of the old nature to control the believer’s submissive will. The old nature will count no cost too great if it may but gain that control.
33:12. “Ask 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.”
As his wife, Dinah would be under Shechem’s control rather than Jacob’s. This continues to emphasize that the old nature will pay any price to gain control of the believer’s submissive will. When the believer yields that control to the old nature, then the judgment that should govern his submissive will according to God’s Word, will become a judgment exercised according to the dictates of his own fleshly lusts. This willingness of the old nature to pay any price for that control should teach us the true worth of having our wills subject to God’s control, and should warn us against relinquishing that control to the old nature.
34:13. “And the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father deceitfully, and said, because he had defiled Dinah their sister.”
It appears to have been Jacob’s sons rather than Jacob himself who were the chief negotiators in this matter. As has been noted already, sons represent the activity of the will, so that the spiritual truth being presented here is that the active will is roused to action as a result of the wrong suffered by the passive will at the hand of the old nature.
That wrong wouldn’t have been suffered, however, had these same brethren been less occupied with “the cattle in the field,” and more concerned that Dinah not be permitted to go out among these Hivites unattended. As believers we would save ourselves much sorrow if we gave less time to the world’s business, and were more concerned that our passive will not become defiled by submission to the old nature.
As it was with Jacob and his children, however, so is it all too often with us. We leave the passive will unattended, while our active will is busy with the world’s business, and then when trouble comes, as it inevitably must, we resort to deceit and cruelty against those who have humbled us. For example, we are busy with the world’s business, and we allow ourselves to judge the unconverted, yet we do nothing to try to win them for Christ. Then when they shame us by pointing out the inconsistency of our own lives, we become angry, and instead of acknowledging that their accusations are justified, we nurse our wounded pride until it develops into hatred, and we “slay” them by leaving them to die in their sins without the Gospel.
34:14. “And 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.”
These pious words masked a murderous intent, for Jacob’s sons were determined to avenge Dinah’s dishonor by slaying Hamor and Shechem and all their company. That their vengeance was both cruel and evil is witnessed by the declaration of Jacob in chapter 49:5-7, “Simeon and Levi are brethren; instruments of cruelty are in their habitations. O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honor, be not thou united: for in their anger they slew a man, and in their self-will they digged down a wall (lit. houghed oxen). Cursed be their anger, for it was cruel: I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.”
Some have difficulty in understanding why the slaughter of these Hivites was wrong when God Himself in the days of Joshua ordered the extermination of all the Canaanites, including the Hivites. In Ge 15:16 God said to Abraham, “But in the fourth generation they (Abraham’s descendants) shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.” The iniquity of the Amorites wasn’t full in the days of Abraham, nor was it full in the days of Jacob. Their cup of iniquity, and therefore of judgment, wouldn’t be full until the time of Joshua, and until they had filled that cup to the brim God would deal with them in grace, giving them opportunity to repent. The evil of Jacob’s sons in slaying these Hivites lies in the fact that it was typically a violation of the principle of grace. It was not yet God’s time to execute judgment upon them. Notice again the words of Jacob in Ge 49:6 “... in their anger they slew a man, and in their self-will they dug down a wall.” They acted in anger and in self-will. With regard to anger, we read in Jas 1:20, “The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.” Self-will is nothing less than defiance of God.
Since Jacob’s sons represent the activity of his will, their slaughter of Hamor and his people translates into the spiritual truth that when we act in anger and self-will, the results must be as displeasing, as they are also dishonoring, to the God of all grace. Such activity of the will misrepresents God to the world, for it works evil, not good, to men whom God desires to save.
To accomplish their evil purpose they made much of the reproach that would be theirs if they were to give their sister to one uncircumcised. Dinah, as Jacob’s daughter, represents the passivity of his will, but as a wife she would represent the expression of her husband’s spiritual life. Typically, then, what Jacob’s sons were saying to Hamor and Shechem was what their equally hypocritical self-righteous descendants were saying to men in the days of Christ, “You can’t have eternal life unless you are circumcised.” And for those who obeyed them, the result was the same as it was for Hamor and Shechem: they died.
This blot would never have appeared on Jacob’s escutcheon had he obeyed God and gone to Bethel instead of settling down in Shechem. We may learn more than one lesson from this dark chapter of Jacob’s history. Nothing but evil can attend the disobedience of being in a place other than that appointed by God; nor will God’s purposes be served by an activity of the will energized by anger.
34:15. “But in this will we consent unto you: if ye will be as we be, that every male of you be circumcised.”
This continues to anticipate what would be the character of Jacob’s descendants, as it continues also to warn us against being guilty of similar folly. They would become a nation loving neither God nor man, but insisting that all men be as they: practitioners of an empty ritual bringing death to men, and dishonor to God.
34:16. “Then 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.”
This deceit, embellished by promises never intended to be kept, reveals the depths to which believers may sink when they seek to avenge themselves, and act in anger and self-will. It shouldn’t be necessary to remind ourselves that all these things have been written for our instruction.
34:17. “But if ye will not hearken unto us, and be circumcised; then will we take our daughter, and we will be gone.”
This is an ultimatum similar to that which the Jews of Christ’s day offered their neighbors, Be circumcised, or lose your soul.
34:18. “And their words pleased Hamor, and Shechem Hamor’s son.”
Since Hamor represents the body as the servant of the old nature; and Shechem, the strength of its lusts, it is easy to understand their pleasure at this proposal made by Dinah’s brethren. It pleases the natural man to be told that there is something he can do, some price he can pay, in order to obtain eternal life.
34:19. “And the young man deferred not to do the thing, because he had delight in Jacob’s daughter: and he was more honorable than all the house of his father.”
There is undoubtedly good reason for his being described as “the young man,” but I can’t understand what the reason may be, unless it is that God would have us view him here, not as the representative of the evil associated with his name and parentage, but rather as one who might have been shown mercy by Jacob’s sons, had their desire for vengeance been less adamant. If this is the explanation, then it makes their crime the more heinous. This whole verse in fact seems to present him as one, who though by no means guiltless, nevertheless loved Dinah, and was willing to do everything in his power to atone for the wrong he had done her, and make her his wife. He would seem in the context of this present verse at least to represent those who seek salvation, but by any means other than faith in Christ.
”He was more honorable than all the house of his father,” is rendered in the Amplified Old Testament “He was honored above all his family, so, ranking first, he acted first.” It need not necessarily be concluded that he was honorable in the ordinary sense of the word.
34:20. “And Hamor and Shechem his son came unto the gate of their city, and communed with the men of their city, saying,”
34:21. “These 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.”
The flesh will muster all its forces to entice the believer back under its control. The flesh would have the believer give up his pilgrim character, and return to the life style of the mere earth-dweller.
”The land is large enough for them.” The “land” of the old nature is large enough to accommodate every rebel. The highway running through it is the broad way that leads to death, and it accommodates multitudes on their way to hell.
Mixed marriages between the godly line of faith and the ungodly line of unbelief were Satan’s attempt to corrupt the godly line, and so prevent the birth of the promised Seed. This present suggestion of Hamor and Shechem is only another instance of the use of that device.
The same principle applies to God’s prohibition of marriage (and other alliances) between believer and unbeliever in 2 Co 6:14, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers.” It is God’s desire that the Seed (Christ) be produced in every believer, “For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son....” (Ro 8:29); “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you” (Ga 4:19). When a believer yokes himself with an unbeliever he hinders the production of Christ in his life.
34:22. “Only herein will the men consent unto us for to dwell with us, and be one people, if every male among us be circumcised, as they are circumcised.”
Jacob and his sons were circumcised because it was God’s command to His own people. It signified the renunciation of confidence in the flesh, and the cutting off of its deeds. But with these Hivites it was merely an expedient, divorced from obedience to God, to accomplish an ulterior purpose. The old nature will employ any expedient that will lead the believer away from God.
34:23. “Shall 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.”
There was duplicity on both sides. Jacob’s sons intended to slay the Hivites, and the Hivites intended to take all that belonged to Jacob and his sons. This reminds us that the old nature in the believer is no different from the old nature in the unbeliever. The critical difference, however, is that the unbeliever is under the old nature’s control; the believer isn’t: it is by his own will that he submits to its control. The terrible consequences resulting from Jacob’s sons having acted in anger and self-will should teach us the folly of yielding ourselves to that control.
As has been noted already, had Jacob been at Bethel instead of at Shechem, Dinah wouldn’t have been defiled, and there would have been no reason for his sons to commit this atrocity against the Hivites. The lesson we may learn from this is that one act of disobedience may have results far more terrible than we could ever dream. Can there be any doubt that Jacob would never have gone to Shechem had he been able to foresee the terrible results of his sojourning there? We do well to make sure that we are not sojourning in a place of our own choice instead of God’s.
34:24. “And 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.”
The Hivites livers: showers of life we have seen to represent those, who though unconverted, would presume to teach others the way of life. The willingness of men to follow that false teaching is symbolically declared here in that all who went out of the gate of the city accepted the advice of Hamor and Shechem - and they died!
34:25. “And it came to pass on the third day, when they were sore, that two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brethren, took each man his sword, and came upon the city boldly, and slew all the males.”
The third day speaks of resurrection, but it was the Lord Himself Who declared that there are two resurrections: one of life, and the other of death, Jn 5:29. For those Hivites the third day brought death. The truth is that they were as good as dead from the moment they were circumcised, and during those three days they were in pain. In this God points to the grim reality that is death. Circumcision represents the cutting off of the flesh. In regard to these Hivites, the day they were circumcised is a picture of the day of the unbeliever’s physical death (the flesh is cut off in death), and the painful interval between that day and the third day, represents his experience in hell while he waits for the resurrection of death; and their slaughter at the hands of Simeon and Levi on the third day may represent the second death when the unbeliever is cast from the great white throne into the eternal torment of the lake of fire.
And it was circumcision that doomed them! In this God would warn that there is salvation only for the man who trusts in Christ. Circumcision, baptism, church membership, and whatever else man may submit to, apart from faith in Christ, will prove to be but empty rites that bring death.
34:26. “And they slew Hamor and Shechem his son with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah out of Shechem’s house, and went out.”
In this God continues to emphasize the two-fold nature of death in relation to the unbeliever. Since Hamor and Shechem were a first and second generation, their deaths may be typical of the unbeliever’s experience: he dies once physically, and he dies again (the second death) when he is cast from the great white throne into the lake of fire.
“And took Dinah out of Shechem’s house.” Since the name Dinah means judgment, her being taken out of Shechem’s house may represent the end of judgment for the unbeliever. Judgment leaves “his house” when he enters the lake of fire to endure the eternal results of his earthly folly, following the judgment of the great white throne.
34:27. “The sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and spoiled the city, because they had defiled their sister.”
Their being called the sons of Jacob rather than the sons of Israel, points to the activity of the old nature in the believer, just as Hamor and Shechem represent that same old nature in the unbeliever. This spoiling of the city therefore, may portray that activity of the old nature in the believer which leads him to enrich himself with the things of the world in competition with the unsaved. The result of that activity is that the believer may gain silver and gold, but he becomes guilty of “slaying” the unbeliever spiritually, for because he has no concern for his soul, he leaves him to die in his sins.
“Because they had defiled Dinah their sister.” Since Dinah is also described as Jacob’s daughter, she represents the believer’s submission to judgment, but it is the submission which is according to the wisdom of the old nature rather than the new. Her defilement by the Hivites portrays the misuse of judgment by the unbeliever in relation to the believer, which leads in turn to a wrong activity of the believer’s will in response.
34:28. “They took their sheep, and their oxen, and their asses, and that which was in the city, and that which was in the field,”
34:29. “And all their wealth, and all their little ones, and their wives took they captive, and spoiled even all that was in the house.”
By itself the sheep represents both the saint and the sinner, but the sheep as a possession seems to represent submission. The ox is the symbol of patient service; and the ass, the symbol of the body as the servant of the old nature. I don’t understand the spiritual significance of “all that was in the house and in the field.” Spiritually children represent the perpetuation of a man’s life, but they also represent what he produces in his life spiritually, whether he be saint or sinner. The wife, of course, represents the expression of the spiritual life, the godly wife representing the genuine spiritual life of the believer; the ungodly wife, that which passes with the unbeliever for spiritual life.
Since these Hivites represent the activity of the flesh in the unbeliever; and Jacob’s sons rather than Israel’s sons, the same activity in the believer, the spiritual statement, then, is that the things represented by the sheep, oxen, asses, etc., were taken from the control of the old nature in the unbeliever and brought under the control of the old nature in the believer. It portrays the evil working of the flesh in the life of a believer.
34:30. “And Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, Ye have troubled me to make me stink among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites: and I being few in number, they shall gather themselves together against me, and slay me; and I shall be destroyed, I and my house.”
The Holy Spirit’s record of this man’s life fluctuates between what he was as Jacob, and what he was as Israel. What is recorded of him as Jacob represents the life of a believer under the control of the old nature, while what is recorded of him as Israel represents the same life under the control of the new.
Here it is Jacob who speaks.
Simeon means hearkening; and Levi, joined. As his sons, they represent the activity of Jacob’s will, but in their having acted in independence of their father, without even consulting him apparently, we may learn the necessary lesson that when the old nature is in control the “hearkening (obedience)” is to the old nature instead of to the Holy Spirit. All that Levi did should have been the demonstration of the fact that Jacob was a man joined to Christ. His actions, and later his speech, however, indicated that that bond was being ignored, and the lordship of Christ refused in favor of the old nature.
When a believer walks according to his “Jacob” nature instead of his “Israel” nature, the results must always be the same as when these two sons of Jacob acted in self-willed independence: there can be nothing but trouble. But in addition to his being troubled, Jacob’s name had been made to stink among the inhabitants of the land. This speaks of lost testimony. The old nature’s control of the believer’s life will have the same result.
In connection with this, Jacob mentioned two groups specifically - the Canaanites and the Periz-zites. Canaanite means trafficker, and he represents one who simply busies himself with spiritual things for temporal gain. The Perizzite, meaning rustic: squatter, represents one claiming to be a believer, but who in fact, is still only “of the earth,” never having been born again through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Together they represent apostasy, the great false church. She is ceaselessly vigilant in her search for anything that will enable her to discredit the testimony of the true Church, and nothing affords her that opportunity more than the activity of the flesh in the life of the believer.
”They shall ... slay me; and I shall be destroyed, I and my house.” Such words would never come from the lips of Israel, but it was Jacob who was speaking. He had been walking as Jacob rather than as Israel, and since that walk was according to the old nature it was of necessity a walk apart from faith. Now suffering the results of his disobedience, Jacob forgot God’s promises recorded in Ge 28:13-14, “... the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; and thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad ... and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.”
As it was with Jacob so is it with every believer who walks in disobedience. The consequences of our folly destroy our peace, and cause us to forget the promises of Him Who remains faithful even in the midst of our unfaithfulness.
34:31. “And they said, Should he deal with our sister as with an harlot?”
This arrogant reply evinces no contrition. While these two sons represent the activity of Jacob’s will, it must not be forgotten that here it is the activity of his will acting according to the Jacob nature, that is, the old nature. Simeon (hearkening) represents the obedience that should mark the believer; Levi (joined), the truth that the believer’s life should be such as will demonstrate that he is joined to Christ. When the old nature, however, is allowed to control the life, what results from the activity of the will must be harsh cruel conduct completely contrary to what would be produced were the new nature in control.
Simeon and Levi were concerned only with avenging the insult to their honor. They ignored the fact that had they not allowed Dinah to go out unattended the insult could not have been offered. Their treacherous slaughter of the Hivites is a grim reminder of the terrible results that may follow a believer’s submission to the control of the old nature. Under that control the watchful care so necessary in the exercise of judgment will be neglected, leading to the misuse of judgment and the accompanying evils portrayed in the treacherous cruelty of Jacob’s sons.
The effects of the evil were far-reaching. The immediate result was that Jacob and his family suffered acute distress, but the matter didn’t end there. When the time came for Jacob’s sons to stand before him to hear their future foretold, Simeon and Levi must listen to the rehearsal of their evil deed, and hear, not a blessing, but the pronouncement, “I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel” (Ge 49:7). This takes us symbolically to the judgment seat of Christ. The old nature’s control of the life brings trouble on earth, and eternal loss at the Bema.