Question:

I have a question regarding Genesis 34:29. I was wondering how the two sons, Simeon and Levi, were able to carry captive all the women after they killed all the male Hivites? Would these two persons have enough binding material to bound a whole town? Also, how did Simeon and Levi kill all of the males without any notice? You would think a woman or male would scream to warn others. And what about the screams of the male victims as they were being murdered?

Answer:

Shechem, the son of the governor of the town, had had sex with Dinah, the sister of Simeon and Levi. We don't know the circumstances, whether it was a case of rape or casual sex. We do know that it wasn't until after he had violated Diana that Shechem decided that he loved Dinah. "And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her and lay with her, and violated her. His soul was strongly attracted to Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the young woman and spoke kindly to the young woman" (Genesis 34:2-3).

He told his father to arrange a marriage between him and Dinah. He and his father went to arrange a marriage, but it is apparent that neither of them thought it wrong that Shechem was talking about marriage only after he had laid with Dinah. It also should be noted that Dinah did not return home, but was staying in Shechem's home.

Hamor, Shechem's father, presents a case of how a marriage between the two families would be beneficial to both families and the city. But Shechem sticks his foot in and tries to speed up the negotiations. "Let me find favor in your eyes, and whatever you say to me I will give. Ask me ever so much dowry and gift, and I will give according to what you say to me; but give me the young woman as a wife" (Genesis 34:11-12). To Dinah's brothers, this came across as a man offering to pay for the services of a prostitute (Genesis 34:31). He acted as if Dinah was for sale and he told them to name their price.

So the brothers told Hamor and Shechem that they would only consent to the marriage if every man in the city was circumcised first. You need to realize that though it is called a city, it would not be very large by today's standards. Likely there are only several hundred people in town, including the women and children. Shechem must have been very much infatuated with Dinah because he agreed. In fact, we find this complement, "So the young man did not delay to do the thing, because he delighted in Jacob's daughter. He was more honorable than all the household of his father" (Genesis 34:19). His father wasn't so honorable. He saw this as a way for the town to absorb the wealth of Jacob's family through marriages. Between the two of them, they convinced all the men of the city to be circumcised.

Though cutting off the foreskin is a common practice today, it is typically done on newborn babies. For adults, the operation is fairly painful -- and this was back in the days when they didn't have pain killers and other niceties of modern medicine. Such wounds are likely to become infected and usually the third day is the worse between the inflammation of the wound and any illness that might accompany it. The most common pain killer in those days was alcohol, but it is also debilitating

"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" (Genesis 34:25). Even if a man were well enough to attempt to defend his household, the wound would severely hamper his ability to fight. He would not be able to wear any protective armor and any movement would send waves of pain through him. It is likely that many were too drunk to put up a fight. So it isn't surprising that Simeon and Levi (and perhaps their personal servants) were able to kill all the men when the odds were so heavily stacked in their favor.

Though Simeon and Levi were the murderers, it appears that the other brothers joined them in looting the town afterwards. "The sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and plundered the city, because their sister had been defiled. They took their sheep, their oxen, and their donkeys, what was in the city and what was in the field, and all their wealth. All their little ones and their wives they took captive; and they plundered even all that was in the houses" (Genesis 37:27-29).