Genesis 34:21
These men are peaceable with us; therefore let them dwell in the land, and trade therein; for the land, behold, it is large enough for them; let us take their daughters to us for wives, and let us give them our daughters.
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(21) Let us take their daughters . . . —In a young community, such as this of the Hivites at Shechem appears to have been, the addition of a large number of women was a valuable increase of their strength, and one that brought the promise also of future extension. Jacob’s men were also chiefly of the Semitic stock, and therefore possessed of high physical and mental endowments; and as they were rich in cattle and other wealth, their incorporation with the people of Shechem would raise it to a high rank among the petty states of Canaan. There was much plausibility, therefore, in Hamor’s proposal and arguments.

34:20-31 The Shechemites submitted to the sacred rite, only to serve a turn, to please their prince, and to enrich themselves, and it was just with God to bring punishment upon them. As nothing secures us better than true religion, so nothing exposes us more than religion only pretended to. But Simeon and Levi were most unrighteous. Those who act wickedly, under the pretext of religion, are the worst enemies of the truth, and harden the hearts of many to destruction. The crimes of others form no excuse for us. Alas! how one sin leads on to another, and, like flames of fire, spread desolation in every direction! Foolish pleasures lead to seduction; seduction produces wrath; wrath thirsts for revenge; the thirst of revenge has recourse to treachery; treachery issues in murder; and murder is followed by other lawless actions. Were we to trace the history of unlawful commerce between the sexes, we should find it, more than any other sin, ending in blood.Hamor and Shekem accept the terms, and immediately proceed to carry them into effect. It is testified of Shekem, that he delayed not to do the thing, and that he was more honorable than all his house. They bring the matter before their fellow-citizens, and urge them to adopt the rite of circumcision, on the ground that the men are peaceable, well-conducted, and they and their cattle and goods would be a valuable addition to the common wealth of their tribe. Hence, it appears that the population was still thin, that the neighboring territory was sufficient for a much larger number than its present occupants, and that a tribe found a real benefit in an accession to his numbers. The people were persuaded to comply with the terms proposed. There is nothing said here of the religious import of the rite, or of any diversity of worship that may have existed between the two parties. But it is not improbable that the Shekemites were prepared for mutual toleration, or even for the adoption of the religion of Israel in its external forms, though not perhaps to the exclusion of their own hereditary customs. It is also possible that the formal acknowledgment of the one true God was not yet extinct. Circumcision has been in use among the Egyptians, Colchians (Herodotus ii. 104), and other eastern nations; but when and how introduced we are not informed. The present narrative points out one way in which it may have spread from nation to nation.20. Hamor and Shechem … came unto the gate of their city—That was the place where every public communication was made; and in the ready obsequious submission of the people to this measure we see an evidence either of the extraordinary affection for the governing family, or of the abject despotism of the East, where the will of a chief is an absolute command. No text from Poole on this verse.

These men are peaceable with us,.... Meaning Jacob and his sons, pointing to their tents which were near their city; and no doubt more was said than is here expressed, and that these words were introduced with a preface, in which notice was taken of Jacob and his family, and their names mentioned, as here their character is given; that they were men of peaceable dispositions, harmless and inoffensive, as appeared they had been ever since they came into these parts; and there was a great deal of reason to believe they still would be, and which was an argument in their favour, to admit them to a residence among them:

therefore let them dwell in the land, and trade therein; give them leave to dwell where they please, and carry on what trade and traffic in the land they think fit; since they are not likely to be quarrelsome and troublesome, but will deal honestly and honourably, and pay duly for what they agree for or merchandise in:

for the land, behold, it is large enough for them; there is room enough for them to dwell in, and pasturage enough for their cattle, and land enough to manure and till, without in the least incommoding the inhabitants: yea, it is likely to be to their advantage, since they would pay for what they should purchase or hire, and would improve the land which lay uncultivated:

let us take their daughters to us for wives, and let us give them our daughters; this was the thing principally aimed at; and the rest, both what goes before, and what follows after, were in order to this.

These men are {g} peaceable with us; therefore let them dwell in the land, and trade therein; for the land, behold, it is large enough for them; let us take their daughters to us for wives, and let us give them our daughters.

(g) Thus many pretend to speak for a public profit, when in reality they are only speaking for their own private gain and convenience.

Genesis 34:21The condition seemed reasonable to the two suitors, and by way of setting a good example, "the young man did not delay to do this word," i.e., to submit to circumcision, "as he was honoured before all his father's house." This is stated by anticipation in Genesis 34:19; but before submitting to the operation, he went with his father to the gate, the place of public assembly, to lay the matter before the citizens of the town. They knew so well how to make the condition palatable, by a graphic description of the wealth of Jacob and his family, and by expatiating upon the advantages of being united with them, that the Shechemites consented to the proposal. שׁלמים: integri, people whose bearing is unexceptionable. "And the land, behold broad on both sides it is before them," i.e., it offers space enough in every direction for them to wander about with their flocks. And then the gain: "Their cattle, and their possessions, and their beasts of burden...shall they not be ours?" מקנה is used here for flocks and herds, בּהמה for beasts of burden, viz., camels and asses (cf. Numbers 32:26). But notwithstanding the advantages here pointed out, the readiness of all the citizens of Shechem (vid., Genesis 23:10) to consent to be circumcised, could only be satisfactorily explained from the fact that this religious rite was already customary in different nations (according to Herod. 2, 104, among the Egyptians and Colchians), as an act of religious or priestly consecration.
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