Summary of passage: Jacob’s sons told Shechem and his father Hamor that they would only give them Dinah if they and all the males became circumcised. Only then would they agree to give them their daughters and settle among them and become one people. Otherwise, they will leave.
Hamor and Shechem readily agreed, saying once all are circumcised then their livestock, property, and all their animals will become their (so greed is the real reason, not love).
All became circumcised.
However, while all the men were still recovering, Simeon and Levi killed every male in the city, including Hamor and Shechem, and looted the city. They seized all their livestock, wealth, and women and children.
Jacob chastized them (a bit), saying now they may attack them but the sons defended themselves, asking how they could stand by and have their sister treated like a prostitute.
6a) They made the family “a stench to the Canaanites and Perizzites”, who now may retaliate and destroy their entire household.
b) Circumcision was the covenant given to Abraham by God showing an outward sign of their difference, their special place in this world as God’s chosen people (Genesis 17:9-14). It is a sacred act, given by God himself to His people. Hence, the deception is a slap in the face to God. It is a desecration, a sacrilege against God. They do not revere God or what is His and really don’t care.
c) Personal Question. My answer: Revenge, plain and simple. No, not really. I do hold grudges and contempt for people but I pray through that.
d) ”Do not repay evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody….live at peace with everyone…do not take revenge..but leave room for God’s wrath.” Feed your enemy instead and allow good to overcome evil.
7a) They will be scattered in Jacob (Israel or the Promised Land) and not listened to. Cursed be their anger.
b) Basically saying should they have stood by and allowed their sister to be treated like a prostitute. Something had to be done.
8 ) Personal Question. My answer: Revenge is God’s to take, not ours. Revenge only magnifies the wrong and creates more woe and sorrow. Give it to God and allow Him and His forgiveness to heal your heart.
Conclusions: No question Simeon and Levi went overboard on the revenge, killing innocent people who had nothing to do with the crime. Their actions did not fit the crime in any way. And to top it off they committed sacrilege to accomplish the devil’s work. Pretty sure God wasn’t too happy about that!
It is interesting that greed, NOT love, is the motivating factor as it seems to be throughout history when atrocities are committed. Again, the use of women to accomplish this goal is very sad and unfortunate.
Notice that Jacob is NOT called Israel here. Why? Because his actions are deplorable. Jacob showed no recorded outrage at what happened to Dinah. Instead, he deferred to his sons. And when he heard about the murders? A slight chiding was all Simeon and Levi got. ”Now, now, kids, you shouldn’t have done that. We’re gonna have to move again.” Seriously? That was it?? That was the punishment a father gave his sons???
Jacob’s prophecy does come true: both tribes are scattered over the Promise Land. However, it is God’s punishment, not Jacob’s. He is only the messenger here. Note also we don’t hear much about the Simeonites throughout OT history but we know the Levites were the ones chosen as priests over God’s people. They stood firm during the Golden Calf debacle (Exodus 32:26-28) and did repent and chose God. God’s saving grace.
Notes on circumcision: Circumcision has been around before God gave the covenant to His people. The Ancient Egyptians practiced circumcision where the earliest recorded use is found.
Interestingly, the highest occurrence of circumcision is amongst Muslims (I didn’t know this) and it’s probably the most common surgical procedure performed today. Approximately one-third of males worldwide are circumcised and the rate stands at 75% in the United States (of the population. Newborn circumcision rates are only around 55%). Summarized from Wikipedia.
Like any operation, babies heal faster than adults. It’s just the way God made us as humans. Besides the Bible requiring infant circumcision, the health risks are less and it is less painful when performed as an infant. Babies don’t think about the pain because pain has yet to develop meaning to them. They inherently recover quickly because they are relatively immobile during the recovery stage.