Revenge Against Shechem Bible Story

Revenge Against Shechem Bible Story

As Jacob and his family traveled back to the promised land of Canaan, they stopped to camp near the town of Shechem. This was the same area where God had appeared to Jacob years earlier and blessed him after the dream of the stairway to heaven.

Jacob’s daughter Dinah, whose mother was Leah, went out to visit some of the young women in Shechem. While there, the son of the city’s ruler, a man named Shechem, saw Dinah and took a liking to her. He seized her and forced himself upon her, humbling and disgracing her.

However, Shechem then became infatuated with Dinah and desperately wanted her as his wife. He begged his father Hamor, “Please get me this young girl! I love her and want to marry her.”

When Jacob found out what had happened to his daughter Dinah, he and his sons were furious and greatly grieved. But Shechem came to speak with Jacob and his sons, pleading, “Let me marry her! I will pay any bride price you ask.”

Shechem’s father Hamor added, “Please give your daughter as a wife for my son. Then we can intermarry with each other. You can live and trade in our land, and we will become one people together.”

Though Shechem’s intentions were evil at first, violating Dinah, he now desired to make amends through the custom of marrying her. Jacob’s sons, led by Simeon and Levi, responded deceitfully.

They told Shechem and Hamor, “We cannot allow our sister to marry someone who is uncircumcised, for that would be a disgrace among our people. But this is how we can make an alliance – every male among you must be circumcised like us.”

Shechem quickly agreed to this condition because of his love for Dinah. But Jacob’s sons had an ulterior revenge motive behind their proposal. They planned to attack the men of Shechem while they recovered from their circumcisions.

So Shechem and his father convinced all the men of their town to be circumcised. Three days later, while the men were still sore and disabled, Simeon and Levi took their swords and slaughtered every male in Shechem, even killing Shechem and his father Hamor.

The other sons of Jacob then went and plundered the entire town for taking their sister Dinah. They seized all the flocks, possessions, wealth, and women and children to take as captives.

Later when Jacob learned what his sons had done, he scolded them harshly. “You have brought great trouble upon me! Now the Canaanites and Perizites in this area will hate me and unite against me to destroy us. We are few in number while they are many!”

But Simeon and Levi defended their actions, saying, “Should he have treated our sister like a prostitute? We had to take revenge for the disgrace committed against our family!”

The sons felt justified taking bloody vengeance against the men of Shechem. However, Jacob worried it would only provoke the surrounding peoples against them and undo the covenant promises from God.

To escape further violence, Jacob instructed his family to leave immediately. They traveled to Bethel, where God had appeared to Jacob many years earlier in the dream of a stairway reaching to heaven.  

Before arriving at Bethel, God said to Jacob, “Go up to Bethel and settle there. Build an altar to the God who appeared to you fleeing from your brother Esau.” So Jacob commanded his household to get rid of any pagan idols or impure things they possessed.

When they reached Bethel, Jacob built an altar and worshiped the Lord with sacrifices. God then appeared to Jacob again, confirming his new name Israel, and reiterating the covenant promises to give the land of Canaan to his descendants.

Years later, as Jacob and his family prepared to reunite with his long-lost son Joseph in Egypt, God appeared to him with this reassurance: “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make your family into a great nation. I will go with you to Egypt, and I will bring your descendants back into this land again.”

So despite the tragic violence at Shechem, Jacob’s family pressed forward in obedience to God’s greater plan. The incident revealed how quickly conflict and vengeance can spiral out of control when hatred rules over wisdom. 

Though Dinah’s brothers felt their bloody revenge was justified, Jacob rightly feared it would endanger their family and God’s covenant promises. Thankfully, the Lord recommitted to being with Jacob’s family through every circumstance, guiding them towards the promised destiny.

From this sobering story, we learn the importance of showing restraint, forgiveness and leaving ultimate justice to the Lord, rather than rashly taking matters into our own hands as Simeon and Levi did. God’s perfect will prevails in the end over any human mistakes or sins.

The story also shows the pain that comes from making unwise choices, like Dinah leaving the family’s camp. Shechem made sinful decisions too. But God remained merciful to Jacob’s family despite their flaws, reaffirming His promises to give their descendants the promised land of Canaan. Through all their ups and downs, God remained faithfully committed to Israel.