Now it came to pass on the third day, when they were in pain, that two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, each took his sword and came boldly upon the city and killed all the males.
The English words bold and brave are often used to mean the same thing, so let’s get one thing straight: What the two sons of Jacob did in Genesis 34 was bold, but it was anything but brave.
The story begins when Dinah, a daughter of Jacob, was abducted and sexually violated by Shechem the Hivite, a prince in the land of Canaan. Shechem, who apparently was smitten with Dinah, proceeded to seek Dinah’s hand in marriage by asking for Jacob’s permission.
The sons of Jacob were outraged by Shechem’s actions toward their sister. They were determined to not let her marry him or let him go unpunished for his actions toward her. But the sons of Jacob “spoke deceitfully” to Shechem, saying that they would agree to the marriage only if his entire city would become circumcised (Genesis 34:13-15).
Shechem agreed, and all the males of the city were circumcised so he could marry Dinah. Three days later, when they were still in pain from the procedure, Simeon and Levi rushed in and “boldly” slaughtered the city’s helpless men (Genesis 34:25).
This is the only scripture in the King James Version where the Hebrew word betach is translated “boldly.” It is translated “safely” 17 times and “carelessly” three times—so it might be more accurate to say that Simon and Levi went on their premeditated killing spree without having to fear for their personal safety.
God doesn’t explicitly respond to the brothers’ actions in this passage of the Bible, but other scriptures command us, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16) and “‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Hebrews 10:30). Jacob’s sons were guilty of both speaking deceitfully and taking vengeance into their own hands—two actions God condemns.
To read more about how God views lying, see our article “Lying vs. Telling the Truth.”
Tomorrow on the Daily Bible Verse Blog: “What Makes an Idol?”