I’m not saying that as a salutation or because I actual mean it. I’m saying it in place of “Jesus Christ” or “Goddamn!” because those phrases wouldn’t fit a series of Bible analyses because they’d be too literal. Plus, I’ve taken to using “Good morning” in place of “Good God” or “Goddammit” in an effort to anesthetize my mouth as I’ve become middle-aged and I aim for my blogging voice to be more user-friendly in general. Hence …
Good morning! “A revenge is a dish best served cold-blooded bedlam-style” is the best description of the havoc wreaked on Hamor and his son Shechem in Chapter 34. After reading this story, to say the nation of Israel had a chip on its shoulder the size of Gibraltar may be a tad hyperbolic, but not by much. Chapter 34 deals with not only the loose sexual norms of the Old Testament but also makes you realize two things: 1) Horny knuckle draggers with most of their brains below their belts who still somehow earn their peers’ respect have been around for thousands of years and 2) On the cover of every Old Testament ever published since Gutenberg invented the printing press should just be a big phallus. I mean, protecting their sister’s honor with a good solid ass kicking would have been a proportional response, but Simeon and Levi and the rest of Jacob’s boys took it to a whole different level. Check this out.
In Chapter 34 (Named The Rape of Dinah so you’re pulled in and intrigued, although this is hardly the first case of sexual deviancy in the Bible thus far. Even if you take out the incest, you’ve still got the polyamory and there is a whole lot of “ and then Horace took Brenda for his wife” which essentially means exactly what you think it means and it doesn’t mean Horace and Brenda had a destination wedding in Aruba) Jacob’s daughter Dinah goes out for a walk one day to visit some of her girlfriends when Shechem, Hamor the Hivite’s son (I include this factoid because Genesis’ author includes it. I have no idea if there is any significance to Hamor being a Hivite except than at one point, the Hivites’ do get the shaft from the Hebrew God [Joshua 3:10] so maybe this is literary license to give the reader the head’s up that Hivite’s are school in the summer time anyway) rapes her, but then (I just love this) and only then decides she is so hot that he actual wants to make her his wife and “endeavors to win her affection.” Pretty backasswards way to go about doin’ that Shechem, but alright. So he goes to his dad and sends him off to talk to Jacob, but then thinks better of it and decides he should probably go to talk to Jacob himself considering he already raped the guy’s daughter and the least he could do is do a little groveling himself. Jacob’s sons are out working in the fields when Shechem and Hamor go to Jacob to plea their case. Shechem even offers to pay Jacob as high a “bridal price” as he sets because old boy really has a thing for Dinah which, if you really want put some psychoanalysis on it, is remarkable since a man having his way with a young maiden and then wanting nothing to do with her post-coitus is and has been part and parcel for a good chunk of human evolution right up to the present day. But Shechem is smitten with the girl and so Hamor steps in and tries to schmooze Jacob.
“Listen, my son has his mind set on your daughter and this can work out well for both of us. You let him marry your daughter and I’ll give you some daughters your boys can um, ‘marry,’ and you can live among us, maybe buy some of my land, and we’ll just forget about all this rape stuff. Sound good?”
But when Jacob’s other sons get wind of what happened they are furious and so, behind Jacob’s back, come up with a plan of their own that they think would be a proper execution of justice and bring a suggestion to Hamor.
‘We could not do such a thing as to give our sister to an uncircumcised man. That would be disgraceful to us [Dinah’s brothers do not, I should interject here, present Hamor and Shechem with any feasible circumstances in which the fact that Shechem does not, in fact, have part of his penis removed would be made known to anybody other than the parties already mentioned and therefore come to bear on her brothers’ honor but can you really blame them for trying this ruse? I mean, so far, the hapless Hamor is just covering for his rapist son who wants to make good on the fact that he did already rape the woman he now wants to marry, so I’m betting that Shechem isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer to begin with and he doesn’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth. A gift horse that already gave, as it were.] We could not give out sister to an uncircumcised man, so here’s what’s gonna happen. You and your son and all your other menfolk in town agree to be circumcised. Then, with God as our witness, we will settle in your town and take …er… buy some of your land and we’ll eat and drink and be one big happy clan.”
Here’s where it gets bizarre even for the Old Testament. Not only does this proposition seem perfectly fair to Hamor and Shechem, but the two go back and have a meeting with the town council who also think it’s a reasonable request because Jacob and his sons apparently have a lot of livestock that they would all share in and because Shechem “was deeply in love with Jacob’s daughter. Moreover, he was more highly respected than anyone else in his clan.”[Italics added by me]
One wonders who the other guys in the town council were that Shechem the Rapist is the most highly respected guy they can find. Frankly, if Shechem is the best his clan has to offer, I don’t feel the least bit bad about what Jacob’s sons cooked up for them. So the town council and all the other men agree and Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s two oldest brothers, cut off part of the penis of every man in town. Then, on the third day when everybody is still in agonizing pain because they just had part of their adult penises chopped off, Jacob’s other sons slaughtered the lot of them.
I’ll say that again. They killed all of them only after they chopped off part of their penises. That’s some Keyser Soze crap right there.
“Then the other sons of Jacob followed up the slaughter and sacked the city in reprisal for their sister Dinah’s defilement. They seized their flocks, herds, and asses and whatever was in the city and in the country around. They carried off all their wealth, their women, their children and took for loot whatever was in their houses.” Then Jacob goes to his sons exasperated and says “You numbskulls. Now everybody in this city hates us and if they come at us, we’re toast! Did you think about that, like, at all?!”
Simeon and Levi just looked at each other and shrugged.
“Our sister’s no whore.”
As Jacob walked away from his sons, God taps him on the shoulder and tells him to take his whole operation to Bethel and build an altar to Him there because of the hooskow with Esau. He bailed him out of. So Jacob packs up shop and moves his whole production to Bethel and “then, as they set out, a terror from God fell upon the towns round about so that no one pursued the sons of Jacob.”
No mention of what the “terror” was. None. Dust storm? Hurricane? Roving band of stark raving mad cannibal Hivites? We’ll never know. To quote from The Usual Suspects, just like that … their gone.
On to Chapter 37. And friends, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.