Bible In A Year: Day 15
Yesterday we read about Jacob returning to Canaan and buying some land outside the city of Shechem. Now with Jacob and his family living outside the city his daughter Dinah goes out to meet some of the women and the son of the city’s ruler, also named Shechem, snatches her and “lays with her.” Traditionally thought to mean he kidnapped and raped her, it could also be read that they eloped together. This is a possible translation here, but the use of force against Dinah’s consent seems more fitting with what the response is from the sons of Jacob.
After violating Dinah, Shechem sends word to Jacob about what happened and proposes what would essentially be a marriage treaty between the burgeoning Israelites and this Canaanite city. The sons of Jacob agree on one single condition; every man in the city must be circumcised. When Shechem relays the terms to his people, he sells it to them as a financial boon to his city, which makes me feel like this has been part of his motivation in seizing Dinah in the first place.
After three days, when every man in the city is in too much pain to fight, two of Dinah’s full brothers, Levi and Simeon, make their way into the city and avenge their sister. They killed every man in the city and then they plundered it and took all their animals and wealth. Jacob was very upset by what they had done (had they tricked the ruler and his son into getting circumcised and then killed just them maybe he would’ve took it better) and eventually on his deathbed he’d prophecy about Levi and Simeon, mentioning their rage.
The family leaves and heads south to Bethel where Jacob tells them to get rid of their idols and foreign gods before they make a covenant with the Lord, much like Joshua will tell his descendants to do before they cross into the promised land about 400 years later. Jacob and his family reconfirm their commitment to God and He reconfirms the promises made to Abraham and Isaac.
To end the chapter we see Jacob’s beloved wife Rachel give birth to the youngest son. When she tragically dies in childbirth they bury her in Bethlehem.
In the psalms we see David’s deep relationship with God play out in his words, where he talks to God like you would a lifelong friend.
Jesus is teaching in parables in this chapter and we get quite a few of them at once, and touching on many different subjects and applications. Many of these parables have explanations directly from Our Lord, so I’d like to just point out a few observations about some of them.
The parable of the mustard seed is mainly about how just a little faith can accomplish great things, but also a subtext here with similar imagery used in the Old Testament where trees represented various kingdoms, including Israel and the birds were the gentile nations. This is an early indication of the coming spread of the gospel to all nations and not just the house of Israel.
When Jesus talks about the great treasure hidden in a field, Saint Irenaeus says He was speaking of himself hidden throughout the scriptures in different types and foreshadowing. Jesus can be found throughout the Old Testament if you read it through the lens of the New Testament, and He was inviting those present to search the scriptures and see for themselves what treasures lay hidden.
And finally, when Jesus speaks about the weeds hidden among the wheat, He specifically mentions the angels gathering them at the day of judgment and casting them into the fire. Too many people today try to wish the eternal punishment of hell away as a teaching of an age gone by, but this isn’t so. Hell was taught to be a real place by Our Lord, and has consistently been taught by the church as well.
Let’s remember to remain in Our Lord’s friendship by listening to Him and being doers of the word, not just hearers of it.