- Genesis 34:25-29
The Good and Bad of a Character Trait
The pain and fever associated with circumcision on the third day would be incapacitating, especially since the city of Shechem was unsuspecting the ambush.
Dinah’s brothers Simeon and Levi acted alone in the massacre, but Dinah’s other full brothers, the sons of Leah - Reuben, Judah, Issachar and Zebulun - did not join in the slaughter of Shechem. All the brothers joined them for the looting. The sons of Jacob (or, Israel) took the flocks, herds, donkeys, wealth, women, children, and possessions in the houses as plunder.
It would seem fairly clear that the behavior of Simeon and Levi was both treacherous and deceitful. In addition to the evil plan, their actions were an extreme display of vengeance. Jacob rebukes them in his final words of prophecy in Genesis 49:5-7:
“Simeon and Levi are brothers—their swords are weapons of violence. Let me not enter their council, let me not join their assembly, for they have killed men in their anger and hamstrung oxen as they pleased. Cursed be their anger, so fierce, and their fury, so cruel! I will scatter them in Jacob and disperse them in Israel.”
Proverbs speaks against the socially unacceptable behavior of plotting harm against someone who lives in trust next to you:
“Do not plot harm against your neighbor, who lives trustfully near you.” – Proverbs 3:29
But, yet, could their behavior have revealed, if nothing else, a positive trait of passion to defend purity and righteousness. For example, how can it be justified that Jacob offered these Canaanites entrance into the Abrahamic Covenant for commercial and economic reasons? Or, how can sexual violation be remedied with a financial exchange? Isn’t that why Simeon and Levi rebuked their father Jacob by saying, “Should he have treated our sister like a prostitute?” (Genesis 34:31) Also, marriages were planned and arranged by the parents or the leaders of the family. To go outside this cultural practice and take a daughter was to steal a valuable family possession.
A similar action by the descendents of Levi will earn them a place in the priesthood when in Exodus 32:25-29 they sided with the Lord and slaughtered the rioting Hebrews who had given way to idol worship of the Golden Calf and lewd immorality. Once order was restored The Lord separated Levi to be his own priesthood.
It would appear the Levi and the Levite’s desire to defend truth and righteousness was honorable and acceptable. But, when it was mixed with their sinful desire for vengeance and violence it was a curse.
"Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughingstock to their enemies. So he stood at the entrance to the camp and said, “Whoever is for the Lord, come to me.” And all the Levites rallied to him. Then he said to them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.’” The Levites did as Moses commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people died. Then Moses said, “You have been set apart to the Lord today, for you were against your own sons and brothers, and he has blessed you this day.” – Exodus 32:25-29
Is this not what got Moses in trouble in Egypt the first time when he saw and killed the Egyptian slave master mistreating a Hebrew slave? Moses, who was a Levite, did the right thing, but at the wrong time and in the wrong way. (Exodus 2:11-15)
Are these character traits useful for God if used for him in his way?
I will use my character traits for God and not allow them to be twisted and perverted by sin.
Someone to Quote
Something to Ponder
Here’s a Fact
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- Proverbs 15:1
New International Version (NIV)
30 Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought trouble on me by making me obnoxious to the Canaanites and Perizzites, the people living in this land. We are few in number, and if they join forces against me and attack me, I and my household will be destroyed.”
31 But they replied, “Should he have treated our sister like a prostitute?”
New International Version (NIV)
Moses Flees to Midian
11 One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. 12 Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. 13 The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, “Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?”
14 The man said, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and thought, “What I did must have become known.”
15 When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian, where he sat down by a well.
New International Version (NIV)
The Covenant of Circumcision
17 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty[a]; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. 2 Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”
3 Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, 4 “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. 5 No longer will you be called Abram[b]; your name will be Abraham,[c] for I have made you a father of many nations. 6 I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. 7 I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. 8 The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.”
9 Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. 10 This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner—those who are not your offspring. 13 Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”
15 God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. 16 I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.”
17 Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” 18 And Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!”
19 Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac.[d] I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. 20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation. 21 But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year.” 22 When he had finished speaking with Abraham, God went up from him.
23 On that very day Abraham took his son Ishmael and all those born in his household or bought with his money, every male in his household, and circumcised them, as God told him. 24 Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised, 25 and his son Ishmael was thirteen; 26 Abraham and his son Ishmael were both circumcised on that very day. 27 And every male in Abraham’s household, including those born in his household or bought from a foreigner, was circumcised with him.
- Genesis 17:1 Hebrew El-Shaddai
- Genesis 17:5 Abram means exalted father.
- Genesis 17:5 Abraham probably means father of many.
- Genesis 17:19 Isaac means he laughs.
New International Version (NIV)
“Call if you will, but who will answer you? To which of the holy ones will you turn?
Resentment kills a fool, and envy slays the simple.
I myself have seen a fool taking root, but suddenly his house was cursed.
His children are far from safety, crushed in court without a defender.
The hungry consume his harvest, taking it even from among thorns, and the thirsty pant after his wealth.
For hardship does not spring from the soil, nor does trouble sprout from the ground.
Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.
“But if I were you, I would appeal to God; I would lay my cause before him.
He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.
He provides rain for the earth; he sends water on the countryside.
The lowly he sets on high, and those who mourn are lifted to safety.
He thwarts the plans of the crafty, so that their hands achieve no success.
He catches the wise in their craftiness, and the schemes of the wily are swept away.
Darkness comes upon them in the daytime; at noon they grope as in the night.
He saves the needy from the sword in their mouth; he saves them from the clutches of the powerful.
So the poor have hope, and injustice shuts its mouth.
“Blessed is the one whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.[a]
For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal.
From six calamities he will rescue you; in seven no harm will touch you.
In famine he will deliver you from death, and in battle from the stroke of the sword.
You will be protected from the lash of the tongue, and need not fear when destruction comes.
You will laugh at destruction and famine, and need not fear the wild animals.
For you will have a covenant with the stones of the field, and the wild animals will be at peace with you.
You will know that your tent is secure; you will take stock of your property and find nothing missing.
You will know that your children will be many, and your descendants like the grass of the earth.
You will come to the grave in full vigor, like sheaves gathered in season.
“We have examined this, and it is true. So hear it and apply it to yourself.”
- Job 5:17 Hebrew Shaddai; here and throughout Job
New International Version (NIV)
40 The Lord said to Job:
“Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him!”
3 Then Job answered the Lord:
“I am unworthy—how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth.
I spoke once, but I have no answer— twice, but I will say no more.”
6 Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm:
“Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.
“Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself?
Do you have an arm like God’s, and can your voice thunder like his?
Then adorn yourself with glory and splendor, and clothe yourself in honor and majesty.
Unleash the fury of your wrath, look at all who are proud and bring them low,
look at all who are proud and humble them, crush the wicked where they stand.
Bury them all in the dust together; shroud their faces in the grave.
Then I myself will admit to you that your own right hand can save you.
“Look at Behemoth, which I made along with you and which feeds on grass like an ox.
What strength it has in its loins, what power in the muscles of its belly!
Its tail sways like a cedar; the sinews of its thighs are close-knit.
Its bones are tubes of bronze, its limbs like rods of iron.
It ranks first among the works of God, yet its Maker can approach it with his sword.
The hills bring it their produce, and all the wild animals play nearby.
Under the lotus plants it lies, hidden among the reeds in the marsh.
The lotuses conceal it in their shadow; the poplars by the stream surround it.
A raging river does not alarm it; it is secure, though the Jordan should surge against its mouth.
Can anyone capture it by the eyes, or trap it and pierce its nose?
[a]“Can you pull in Leviathan with a fishhook or tie down its tongue with a rope?
Can you put a cord through its nose or pierce its jaw with a hook?
Will it keep begging you for mercy? Will it speak to you with gentle words?
Will it make an agreement with you for you to take it as your slave for life?
Can you make a pet of it like a bird or put it on a leash for the young women in your house?
Will traders barter for it? Will they divide it up among the merchants?
Can you fill its hide with harpoons or its head with fishing spears?
If you lay a hand on it, you will remember the struggle and never do it again!
Any hope of subduing it is false; the mere sight of it is overpowering.
No one is fierce enough to rouse it. Who then is able to stand against me?
Who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to me.
“I will not fail to speak of Leviathan’s limbs, its strength and its graceful form.
Who can strip off its outer coat? Who can penetrate its double coat of armor[b]?
Who dares open the doors of its mouth, ringed about with fearsome teeth?
Its back has[c] rows of shields tightly sealed together;
each is so close to the next that no air can pass between.
They are joined fast to one another; they cling together and cannot be parted.
Its snorting throws out flashes of light; its eyes are like the rays of dawn.
Flames stream from its mouth; sparks of fire shoot out.
Smoke pours from its nostrils as from a boiling pot over burning reeds.
Its breath sets coals ablaze, and flames dart from its mouth.
Strength resides in its neck; dismay goes before it.
The folds of its flesh are tightly joined; they are firm and immovable.
Its chest is hard as rock, hard as a lower millstone.
When it rises up, the mighty are terrified; they retreat before its thrashing.
The sword that reaches it has no effect, nor does the spear or the dart or the javelin.
Iron it treats like straw and bronze like rotten wood.
Arrows do not make it flee; slingstones are like chaff to it.
A club seems to it but a piece of straw; it laughs at the rattling of the lance.
Its undersides are jagged potsherds, leaving a trail in the mud like a threshing sledge.
It makes the depths churn like a boiling caldron and stirs up the sea like a pot of ointment.
It leaves a glistening wake behind it; one would think the deep had white hair.
Nothing on earth is its equal— a creature without fear.
It looks down on all that are haughty; it is king over all that are proud.”
- Job 41:1 In Hebrew texts 41:1-8 is numbered 40:25-32, and 41:9-34 is numbered 41:1-26.
- Job 41:13 Septuagint; Hebrew double bridle
- Job 41:15 Or Its pride is its