Revenge – the long arm of Israel
The long arm of revenge of the Mossad, the foreign intelligence agency of Israel, is well known as the most sophisticated and advanced agency in the world, as it stands in its own class. But how many know that the long arm of revenge started long time ago, when Israel was just a family in Shechem.
The revenge of Israel over Shechem
Ya’akov had lived in the land of Charan 20 years (Gen 31:38, 41). He settled in Succoth, where he had built a house, and in Shechem, where he had bought a piece of land. How long and why Ya’akov remained in Succoth cannot be determined with certainty, but we may conclude that he stayed there some years, because he built a house for a lengthened stay.
During Ya’akov’s stay at the city of Shechem, Dinah, the daughter of Leah, went out one day to see the daughters of the land. When Shechem the prince saw her, he kidnapped her, and raped her in the city.
Dinah was only 5 years old when the family left Mesopotamia and in all probability was 14 when she was abducted by Shechem, but not older than that because, according to Gen 37:2, Joseph was sold by his brothers when he was 17 years old, a few years after the Shechem story.
There is no ground for supposing that Dinah was younger than 14, because she was born after Zevulun (see Gen 30:20-21), perhaps in the same year Yoseph was born. This places Dinah’s birth at the end of 14th year of Ya’akov’s work for Lavan.
The birth of Dinah is mentioned in Gen 30:21 probably because of the account in Genesis 34 concerning her rape by Shechem, but according to Gen 37:35 and Gen 46:7, the patriarch had several daughters, though they were nowhere mentioned by name.
We read thus about the rape of Dinah,
And Shechem the son of Chamor the Chivite, the prince of the land, saw her; and he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her. (Gen 34:2)
The Torah says “and lay with her, and defiled her”. This phrase is commonly understood to mean “and he seduced her, and had sex with her”. Thus it is implied that there was some kind of love affair, or consensual sex between Shechem and Dinah. Far be from the truth though.
According to the medieval Tanak commentator Rashi (Shlomo Yitzchaki, 1040 – 1105) the Hebrew word behind “lay with her” וַיִּשְׁכַּב describes normal intercourse — naturally (vaginally), while the word behind “defiled her” וַיְעַנֶּהָ describes a more perverted method of sexual intercourse — unnaturally (anally).
Ibn Ezra understands the word “defiled her” as describing the pain involved in her having intercourse as she had been a virgin. And Nachmanides writes that any intercourse in which the woman is being raped is described in the Bible as עינוי, i.e. that is the meaning of the word וַיְעַנֶּהָ.
In support of this, we find the same word in 2Sa 13:14 concerning the rape of the virgin Tamar by her half-brother Amnon, both children of King David.
So, in Genesis 30 we are given Dinah’s name (Hebrew “justice”), but unlike her brothers, we are not given the reason why she was named such. We may speculate that when her brothers Shimon and Levi went out for revenge, they had her name in mind seeking justice.
We should recall that there was no judicial system established in Israel at that time, and the Torah would not be given to Israel for many more year, not until the revelation at Sinai.
Back to the story, after the rape we are told that Shechem “loved the girl and spoke to her heart” seeking to comfort her after the evil he had done to her.
When Jacob heard that his daughter Dinah was raped, he remained quiet. We should recall here that when his father Avraham heard that Lot was kidnapped, he armed 318 of his men and went as far as the city of Dan to release him (Gen 14:14). But Ya’akov did not take any actions.
When his sons came from the field with the livestock, King Chamor the father of Shechem, went together with his son to Ya’akov to ask him for Dinah.
When the brothers heard of it, they were grieved and burned with anger. It is not accidental that we are told that the patriarch kept silent until his sons came back and only then his sons learned that Dinah was defiled.
King Chamor spoke to them (Ya’akov and his sons) and strangely enough, it was not Ya’akov who took the initiative but his sons.
And Ya’akov heard that he had defiled Dinah his daughter … , so Ya’akov kept silent until they came. … And the sons of Ya’akov came in from the field when they heard it. And the men were grieved, and they were very wroth, because he had wrought a vile deed in Israel in lying with Ya’akov’s daughter, which should not be done. (Gen 34:5-7)
The brothers realized the situation they were in: (1) their sister was brutally raped, (2) their father did not tell them, (3) they learned the evil had done to their sister, not from their father, but from the heathen, (4) Dinah was still being held captive in the house of Shechem.
Now, if Chamor’s intention were sincere and he wanted Dinah as a wife for his son, despite the violence done to her, would he not have brought her back to her father and then started the “negotiation”?
And when Chamor made the proposal, while Dinah was still held captive, he also included the deal for intermarriage with them and possession of the land, if the family would agree. His son Shechem even included a bride price and expensive gifts, if they would give him Dinah for a wife (Gen 34:8-12). He offered to give anything they might ask in order to make the deal.
We may suspect that the heathens had something else in mind when opened the “negotiation”. What they intended, perhaps, was the assimilation of the foreigners and taking possession of Ya’akov’s wealth. We should recall that he left Lavan with a substantial wealth.
“Attractive” as these offers of the heathens were, they were declined by Ya’akov’s sons who took the initiative from now on. And they were quite right to decline them, because by accepting them, they would have sealed their sister’s fate. However, they too had something in mind.
In their anger the brothers had already started planning the revenge, while the father remained silent, again.
They “agreed” on the proposal but at one condition: if every male of in the city would be circumcised. Then and only then, they could give their daughters to Shechem, and take their daughters (Gen 34:13-16). The trap was laid before them, and the bait came just in time. They said to Shechem and Chamor with guile,
But if you do not listen to us and be circumcised, we shall take our daughter and go. (Gen 34:17)
That was a risky but clever bluff. The brothers were completely aware that they did not have the power to get their sister free in an open conflict; they were outnumbered by far and had much to lose.
This is why they did not threaten retaliatory action for the defilement of their sister but only “suggested” for a massive circumcision of all males, if he indeed wanted their sister.
Ya’akov was still silent.
The brothers made it clear that they did feel insulted but the “small” price the heathens had to pay was the removal of the foreskin. It was this simple act that was required from them that caused Chamor fall into the trap and tell his people to accept the circumcision.
The risk the brothers took to speed up Chamor’s decision was when they said, “we will take our daughter and leave” (verse 17). They knew they could not free their sister without a cunning action, nor would they leave without her.
Notice the word the brothers used to refer to Dinah their sister: “our daughter”. That was a clear hint to their father to approve the plan but Ya’akov was still silent.
The risk, however, paid back and Chamor and Shechem bit the bait. The brothers’ words pleased them and they returned to the city to convince their people (Gen 34:18-20).
When King Chamor and Shechem said to them: “we will take their daughters for ourselves”, this was a clever move to convinced them that the Hebrews had no enmity and therefore they had to look forward to intermarry with them. To speed up the decision, they made the people lust after the foreigners’ possession,
Shall not their cattle and their substance and all their beasts be ours? Only let us agree with them, and let them dwell with us. (Gen 34:23)
That greed after Ya’akov’s wealth sealed the revenge. All males were circumcised and it came to be on the third day after the circumcision, when they were in the most severe pain, that Shimon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, took their swords and raided the city and killed all the males. They also killed King Chamor and Shechem, and took their sister back with them (Gen 34:25).
It will be reasonable to assume that Shimon and Levi did not raid the city alone but took with them their servants as well. Then we are told that “the sons of Ya’akov came upon the slain and plundered the city, because they had defiled their sister” (Gen 34:27-29).
“The sons of Ya’akov came upon the slain and plundered the city” can only mean that all of his sons participated in the looting, not just Shimon and Levi. It is not very clear from the narrative, but we can assume that Shimon and Levi set out the slaughter and the other brothers joined them.
Ya’akov cursed Shimon and Levi
Ya’akov thought that they had intended only to rescue Dinah and kill Shechem, not to slaughter and plunder the entire city, when he said to Shimon and Levi after the fact,
You have troubled me to make me stick among the inhabitants of the land, among the Kana’anites and the Perizzites. And I am few in number, they shall gather themselves against me and shall strike me, and I shall be destroyed, my household and I. (Gen 34:30)
But they answered, Should he treat our sister like a whore? (Gen 34:31) Their outrage and seeking revenge were justifiable enough, because they looked upon the matter not merely as a violation of their sister’s honor, but as a crime against the whole family of Israel.
Now, why did the sons of Ya’akov have to kill people who had not committed the sin against their sister? Why did they not kill the perpetrator Shechem only?
To answer these questions, we should note that the narrator of the story, who is none other than the Messenger of His Face, intentionally described that all the people of the city “defiled their sister”, not just Shechem.
The sons of Ya’akov came upon the slain, and plundered the city, because they had defiled their sister. (Gen 34:27)
All the people defiled the young girl? Was that a gang rape upon Dinah?
One possibility is that the brothers did not intend to kill all of them except Shechem, but when the inhabitants of the city came together to protect their king and prince, they had to kill all. Or perhaps, the Shechemites knew and cheered the sexual violence Shechem did to Dinah.
We should recall that the Kana’anites were violent people with whom the sexual perversions were not uncommon. Their father Kana’an was born after such a perversion which we explained in the article “The dark side of Noach’s curse“.
Either way, the narrator wants to show us that all the people of the city were held equally responsible and guilty of kidnapping and rape of Dinah, not just Shechem, because they were somehow involved in it. And accordingly, we are to conclude that the guilt of the people of Shechem consisted in their collective responsibility in the crime.
Thus, by saying “because they had defiled their sister” the narrator intentionally speaks of justifying the brothers for slaughtering all males. We should note that the text says “the sons of Ya’akov”, not “the brothers of Dinah”, perhaps alluding to Ya’akov who failed to guide the family in that moment of distress.
Many commentators have interpreted Ya’akov’s words in Gen 34:30 to mean that he most severely reproved his sons’ act of wickedness they had done to Shechem, and some have gone even further to say that he cursed his sons. But a careful reading of the text discloses something else. This is how we explain Ya’akov’s words.
Upon hearing what all his sons had done to Shechem, Ya’akov said to Shimon and Levi only: “You have troubled me to make me stick among the inhabitants of the land…”.
Why he rebuked only Shimon and Levi and not all his sons, we are not told in the narrative. But it appears that at that moment he simply laid stress upon the consequences which the revenge was likely to bring upon himself and the family.
In other words, from the plain reading of the text what we see in his words is that the patriarch was more troubled by the “public” opinion and his reputation among the other Kana’anites than the actual act of [justifiable] revenge for the rape of his daughter Dinah. Perhaps, Ya’akov feared unforeseen war with the other Kana’anitish tribes and that his family might be killed.
What Elohim said
But his fear was groundless, because as we read in the next chapter, YHVH Elohim in His mercy averted all the evil consequences from Ya’akov and his house (Gen 35:5-6), thus having told the patriarch that he should not have doubted in His promise to be always with him. Elohim said to Ya’akov,
Arise, go up to Beth-El and dwell there. And make an altar there to El who appeared to you when you fled from the face of Esav your brother. (Gen 35:1)
Hence, we understand that the reason YHVH Elohim said that he should settle there, though Beth-El is in the land of the Kana’anites, is to reassure him that he had nothing to fear from them.
It should not surprise us that YHVH Elohim called Ya’akov to remove the family from this place of death and defilement and return to Beth-El.
It should not surprise us either that YHVH Elohim did not rebuke Ya’akov for what his sons had done to Shechem, nor did He ever rebuke them.
The command to move to Beth-El stirred him up to perform what had been neglected. Knowing that Beth-El was a sacred ground, before Ya’akov departed from Shechem, he called his whole household to put away all their “foreign idols”, cleanse themselves, and change their garments (Gen 35:2).
It is strange that when he gathered the idols, he did not destroy them but buried them under a tree in Shechem. But we should ask this question: why should his family have idols in the first place?
Those idols were the various items captured as part of the looting of Shechem (Gen 35:3-4). From this we learn that both his sons and their garments had become defiled through contact with them, or through contact with the bodies of the heathens who had been slain in the city.
Did indeed Ya’akov curse his sons?
Many years later after Dinah’s rape, on his deathbed, in Egypt, Ya’akov spoke his last words concerning Shimon and Levi, as we read,
Shimon and Levi are brothers, instruments of cruelty are their kinship. Let my soul not enter their council, let my glory not be united to their assembly, because they killed a man in their anger, and they lamed an ox in pleasure. Cursed be their anger for it is fierce, and their wrath for it is cruel. I divide them in Ya’akov and scatter them in Israel. (Gen 49:5-7)
Ya’akov stated that when the two brothers attacked the Shechemites they were both of one mind that only violence was the solution to releasing Dinah. Their very close relationship as brothers happened to be a dangerous weapon of war. Once such anger is kindled, it resulted in the use as weapons to revenge the rape of Dinah.
This strong bond between Shimon and Levi and their disposition to violence was responsible for their act against Yoseph. With that being said, it is also possible that in his last words Ya’akov referred to their joint action not only to rescue their sister Dinah but also in their plan to sell Yoseph, their brother.
Daat Zkenim says: “Ya’akov implied that whereas they [Shimon and Levi] had displayed their being brothers when avenging the rape of innocent Dinah, their sister, they had failed to do so in their treatment of Yoseph, their brother. (B’reshit Rabbah 98,5 and 99,7)”
We should notice a couple of new elements in his last words that cannot be left unaddressed.
In his last words, Ya’akov seemingly changed the narrative of the past event at Shechem; he said, “and they lamed an ox in pleasure”, while the narrative in Gen 34:28 merely states that the cattle of the Shechemites were carried off, not that they were lamed.
Then at the conclusion of his last speech, the dying patriarch spoke that Shimon and Levi would be divided and scattered in Israel. This statement has been interpreted to have a prophetic implication in the future of the two tribes of Israel, and consequently they were deprived of inheritance of the land. Were they indeed?
Indeed, the tribe of Shimon being the largest tribe at the time of the Exodus became the smallest one 40 years later when Israel entered the Promised Land (Num 26:14). And for this reason alone, they could not conquer their own land but settled among their brethren in the land of Yehudah.
The blessings of Mosheh
In the blessing which Mosheh the man of Elohim blessed Israel before his death (Deu 33), the tribe of Shimon was entirely passed over and received no separate land as an inheritance, but merely a number of cities in the land of Yehudah (Jos 19:1-9). They were eventually absorbed, as most of the clans of Shimon increased but little (1Ch 4:27), and those that increased emigrated and settled outside the limits of the Promised Land (1Ch 4:38-43). But was that the “curse” of Ya’akov?
And regarding Levi, the blessing of Mosheh in Deu 33:8-11 related to the event of the worship of the golden calf in Exo 32:26-29, where the Levites draw their swords against their brothers, at his command, and execute judgment without respect of person. To this we may add Num 25:8, where Pinechas pierced with his spear a Shimonite in defense of the honor of YHVH against the shameless prostitution with a Moabitess.
Thus, the tribe of Levi had received the highest and glorious calling to teach Israel in the laws and commandments of YHVH (Lev 10:11), and to present the sacrifices of the people. How different is the blessing pronounced by Mosheh upon Levi in which there is not the slightest hint in Ya’akov’s “curse”!
Moreover, since Mosheh blessed every one of the tribes of Israel (see Deu 33:1 and 29), it is evident that Shimon was not omitted in the blessing, and Levi received the highest blessing to become a people set-apart to YHVH.
Therefore, Mosheh did not curse the Shimonites and the Levites, and Yehoshua did not forbid Shimon to take the land he was entitled to. Levi received his portion of the land among his brethren in a number of cities to dwell in (Jos 21:1-40), and his election to the priesthood.
That patriarch Ya’akov did not intend to curse his sons is seen in the blessing Levi was destined to, as we explained it in the article “How Leah destined the priesthood of Levi“.
Most definitely, we should not interpret Ya’akov’s inaction as a weakness. Why he remained silent in that time of crisis we are not told. But one thing is certain: he did not want to create, by giving her daughter to Shechem, another enemy of his people, as his father Avraham did, which we explained in the article “The mistakes Avraham made“.
However, there is something even more peculiar in Ya’akov’s last words on the deathbed.
Did Ya’akov participate in the raid of Shechem?
On his deathbed, it seems that Ya’akov described himself as personally having taken the town of Shechem from the Amorite with his sword and bow,
And I, I have given to you one portion above your brothers, which I took from the hands of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow. (Gen 48:22)
According to the plain reading, Ya’akov told Joseph that he had already apportioned a piece of his land to Yoseph, alluding to the extra portion belonging to the first-born.
Some commentators explain that these words are referring to the land in the city of Shechem, which Ya’akov bought from King Chamor, in which the remains of Yoseph would be buried after the Israelites would take over the land. See Jos 24:32.
But here, Ya’akov is saying that he personally had took the land from the Amorite with a sword, and that he was personally entitled to it as spoils of war. But when did Ya’akov fight Amorites for that land, because we find no evidence of such a war?
To find the answer we went to the Hebrew text of our verse where found an interesting Hebrew pun, a play on words.
The word in question is “portion” and the Hebrew word behind it is שְׁכֶם shechem, like the name of the city the sons of Ya’akov devastated.
Rashi explains: Ya’akov meant by the word שְׁכֶם the actual city of Shechem and said: “this shall be to you one portion additional to what you will receive together with your brothers”. Rashi then continues: When Shimon and Levi slew the inhabitants of Shechem all the surrounding nations gathered together to join in battle against them and Ya’akov girded on his weapons to war against them (see Genesis Rabbah 80:10).
As we already explained, YHVH Elohim told Ya’akov to settle in Beth-El in the land of the Kana’anites, where the city of Shechem was located (see Gen 35:1).
For another explanation of this verse Rashi adds: “One portion above your brethren” refers to the birthright that Yoseph’s children should receive: two portions when Kana’an would be divided among the tribes. Yoseph therefore was to be regarded as the first-born. Here, Rashi, says the word shechem signifies “portion”. A beautiful play on words!
But what did Ya’akov mean when he described himself as having taken that city with a sword and a bow? Did he really mean that he personally had been involved in a battle for the city of Shechem?
The words “from the hands of the Amorite”, may be understood as if he had said “from the Kana’anite”. The reason Ya’akov mentioned the Amorite was because of all the Kana’anite tribes the Amorite was the most powerful and the most aggressive tribe, and here “the Amorite” serves as a collective name of all Kana’anites.
Therefore, Shimon and Levi, conquered Shechem, and the Amorites being the largest tribe, is commonly refers to describe all the Kana’anites and the Chivites, the inhabitants of Shechem, included.
That was the first war for the Promised Land which Israel fought and Ephraim and Menasheh received portions of it, according to the words of the patriarch (see also Num 32:39 and Jdg 1:35).
Therefore, what we see in Ya’akov’s last words is not a curse upon his sons rather a curse upon their anger for they revenged their sister with cruelty: “Cursed be their anger for it is fierce, and their wrath for it is cruel”. With these words Ya’akov cursed their anger because when it erupted against Shechem it proved to be unusually destructive.
As we see his last words toward Shimon and Levi are not a sufficient proof that he cursed his sons for their conduct at Shechem; contrary to what many if not all commentators imply.
So, what did the patriarch actually say on his deathbed?
The plain reading of “Let my soul not enter their council, let my glory not be united to their assembly” simply means that Ya’akov remained unapologetic even until the end of his life and distanced himself from the way his sons had conducted the revenge for the rape of their sister.
Ya’akov therefore felt the need to make clear that he had not been a party to their scheme by stressing on “may my soul not enter their council”. He did not curse Shimon and Levi, neither at Shechem, nor on his deathbed in Egypt, otherwise he should have cursed all his sons for they all took part of the raid. But he indeed cursed their anger, because with anger they killed.
Of course, as a father and head of the clan, he had his legitimate concerns and fear as to the consequences of the violence, and perhaps, he had in mind other way to defend the honor of his daughter, which unfortunately or not he did not materialized.
Ya’akov simply did not approve the way all his sons managed the situation of Dinah’s kidnapping and rape. But when all Kana’anites gathered for a war against Israel, he took his sword and bow and fought like a man of battle.
But one thing is certain: Ya’akov did not curse Shimon and Levi, nor did YHVH Elohim. Israel still has 12 tribes, and they will remain such until the Messiah comes.
The long arm of Israel – the revenge of the Mossad
Israel – to the dismay of the United Nations, the European Union, and the main stream liberal media – does whatever it takes to protect itself from the Iranian nuclear threats to annihilate it.
Israel wants to convince Iranian mullahs that the price they will pay to continue the nuclear program will be so high that they will think twice.
How is Israel doing it?
There are seemingly unstoppable and relentless series of targeted assassinations that had various effects on the Iranian nuclear ambitions to annihilate the State of Israel and wipe it out of the map of the world. They are as follows.
The long arm of the Mossad began the revenge with the kidnapping of the Nazi wartime criminal Adolf Eichmann (1906-1962) who administered the concentration camps where millions of Jews were murdered during World War II. He was kidnapped in a South American country and brought to justice in Israel.
Then most recently the long arm of the Mossad focused on the Islamic state of Iran.
On 14 January 2007, the nuclear physicist Ardeshir Hosseinpour died from radioactive gas poisoning.
On 12 January 2010, Masoud Alimohammad, a leading member of the Iranian nuclear program, was killed by the explosion of a motorbike parked near his car.
On 29 November 2010, Majid Shahriari, another nuclear scientist, was killed by magnetized explosives that two motorcyclists had attached to his car. That same day another scientist escaped death, as he managed to leave the car before the explosion.
In July 2011, Darioush Rezainejad, a member of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, was shot dead in front of his house.
On 12 January 2012, Mostafa Ahmadi Roshani who worked at the Natanz facility was assassinated.
On 27 November 2020, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the Head of the Iran’s nuclear program and general of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, was assassinate despite the heavy 24-hour obsessive escort of protection.
All these assassinations were attributed to the long hand of the Mossad.
No one should make the mistake to think that those Iranian scientist were working on peaceful scientific programs, let alone General Fakhrizadeh; he was not working on creating a COVID-19 vaccine that would save millions of lives.
No one should make the mistake to think that the Mossad is the only secret service in the world that does assassinations. All agencies are doing them, Iran included. The question is which of them the corrupted politicians and the anti-Israel media would report.
Iran did targeting killings in Europe with the most recent one in 2018 when the Iranian proxy, Hezbollah, killed Israeli tourists in Bourgas, Bulgaria.
Nothing is forgotten, no one is forgotten!
The descendants of Ya’akov – Israel have a long arm of revenge against the enemies that started with Shechem.
May we merit seeing the coming of our Mashiach speedily in our days.