Genesis 34 is an ugly chapter in the history of the Patriarchs. In it, Shechem, a young Canaanite, takes Jacob’s daughter Dinah and “lay with her by force.” Dinah’s brothers then deceive Shechem and his whole town, telling them that they will consent to intermarry with them if they will only be circumcised. Then, when the entire male population is in the throes of recuperation from the procedure, Jacob’s sons kill Shechem and every male citizen, and pillage their town. It is a sordid tale.
But it is also notable for the seeming lack of a moral compass in Jacob and his sons. When he discovers what they have done, Jacob’s only objection, in :30, is that the peoples of the land might band together and attack him. There is no concern about the egregious overkill exhibited in his sons’ retribution, and their lack of concern for the loss of innocent lives. And when he does rebuke them regarding his concern about the peoples of the land, the sons respond: “Should he make our sister as a harlot?” They exhibited no remorse; they only sought to justify their actions.
But lest we judge them too harshly, is it possible that even we, who live in the light of the New Testament, may exhibit the same lack of genuine remorse for our transgressions?
– How often are we not really repentant for our sins which flew in the face of Holy God, but are only afraid of the consequences we may face from others?
– Do we spend more time justifying our transgressions than confessing and repenting of them?
Perhaps our moral compass is not that much better than Jacob’s and his sons’ after all!