Genesis 34–36: On Dinah’s Defiling, Jacob’s Sons’ War Crimes, and Other Things That Ought Not Be Done in Israel (Bible Talk, Ep. 12)

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These chapters of Genesis cover some dark terrain, things that ought not be done in Israel (34:7). Shechem violates Dinah. Two of his others sons—Simeon and Levi—commit a war crime. And Esau’s descent away from God’s people is finally codified through his genealogy (Gen. 36).

What’s God up to in Genesis 34–36? Even amidst his chosen people’s sin and wickedness, he’s still preserving and preparing them for his purposes.

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1:35 / With the long-simmering tension between Jacob and Esau pretty much resolved, we stand at a transition point in the book of Genesis. The rest of our episodes in Genesis after today will focus on Joseph.

1:57 / What is the “principle crime” in Genesis 34:1–7? Jim observes how Genesis 34 anticipates things that are going to come later on in the Pentateuch (not good things).

4:20 / What does it mean that Shechem “loved” Dinah? Where was Jacob in all this?

7:30 / Sam and Alex explore Jacob’s “sister fib” moment.

8:43 / What kind of deal do Hamor and Shechem try to strike with Jacob in Genesis 34:8–12? What’s at stake?

12:35 / Why does Sam say Simeon and Levi’s slaughter is “like using baptism to drown people”?

14:57 / Why is it significant that Simeon and Levi are the ones who visit judgment on Hamor, Shechem, and the men of the town? Sam explains how their “war crimes” disqualify them as the head of the kingdom and how that paves the way for the royal line of Judah.

19:00 / This passage is tough. Alex wonder, “Is it really a vital backstory for understanding Israel’s history? Why did Moses include it? And how in the world does this passage lead us to the gospel?”

23:17 / Sam says Jacob’s story comes full circle in Genesis 35. Finally, Jacob is a transformed man!

28:10 / Bethel is renamed. Jacob is re-renamed. What’s the Lord communicating here in Genesis 35:1–15? How do the four burials in Genesis 35 signify the closing of one chapter and the beginning of another for Jacob?

33:22 / Sam explains how Jacob’s “whirlwind of a tragic life” should give us hope.

35:00 / Genesis 36 lists 73 hard-to-pronounce names—including Basemath, Alex’s personal favorite. It’s also where we find out what happened to Esau. How is Esau a negative example to God’s people?

38:19 / What can we get out of Scripture’s long lists of names, like the ones we find in Genesis 36?


42:29 / At this point in the story, where is Jacob living? How much of the promised land has he seen? Jim answers, laying out his case for Moses being a “literary genius.” Sam signs off with a rare home-run joke.

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Image: Simeon and Levi Kill the Shechemites, by Jan Luyken and Pieter Mortier (17th Century)

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