Monday, September 06, 2010


Motives are tricky business. Some are quite clear from the beginning. When we were driving our mega-cross-country trip from Washington to Indiana and back again, I would often turn to my husband in near panic and say, “Honey, we need to stop at the next gas station.” He, of course, assumed my morning coffee or afternoon tea needed an escape route. By the third day of this assumption, however, he discovered that coffee and tea weren't always my motivation. Each time I stepped through those convenience store doors with a sleeve of powdered-sugar donuts, he grew more suspicious of my bladder. Once, he even tried to stop at a rest area! Heaven forbid! Their snack machines NEVER have PSD's (powdered-sugar donuts – for those of you non-experts in Dolly Madison snacks). Thus began the challenge of motives. Was my plea to pee pure or a ploy for PSD's? Now, don't poo-poo our perplexing problem. One wrong judgment of my motive, and we could have quite a poo-poo problem. Fortunately, my dear husband is gracious and patient with my tainted motives, but in Jacob's household, motives of the heart were revealed only through tragedy…

Gen. 34:13-17 – “Because their sister Dinah had been defiled, Jacob's sons replied deceitfully as they spoke to Shechem and his father Hamor. They said to them, 'We can't do such a thing; we can't give our sister to a man who is not circumcised. That would be a disgrace to us. We will give our consent to you on one condition only: that you become like us by circumcising all your males. Then we will give you our daughters and take your daughters for ourselves. We'll settle among you and become one people with you. But if you will not agree to be circumcised, we'll take our sister and go.'” (emphasis added)
  • Jacob, the man whose name meant “deceiver,” allows his sons to bargain deceitfully. The author of Genesis leaves no doubt that their motivation was deceit, and I don't think they ever intended for their wild demand to be accepted by the Shechemites. But what happens when your motivation is trickery – and then it backfires…and puts you in the tight spot instead? Where do you land spiritually after that?
Gen. 34:18-24 – “Their proposal seemed good to Hamor and his son Shechem. The young man, who was the most honored of all his father's household, lost no time in doing what they said, because he was delighted with Jacob's daughter. So Hamor and his son Shechem went to the gate of their city to speak to their fellow townsmen. 'These men are friendly toward us,' they said. 'Let them live in our land and trade in it; the land has plenty of room for them. We can marry their daughters and they can marry ours. But the men will consent to live with us as one people only on the condition that our males be circumcised, as they themselves are. Won’t their livestock, their property and all their other animals become ours? So let us give our consent to them, and they will settle among us.' All the men who went out of the city gate agreed with Hamor and his son Shechem, and every male in the city was circumcised.” (emphasis added)
  • From the order of events in these verses, it sounds as if Shechem rushed home from Jacob's tent, was circumcised, and then took his trophy to the city gate and said, “See fellas! It ain't so bad!” Again, the author of Genesis tells us the motivation – Shechem was DELIGHTED with Dinah. But Hamor and Shechem were motivated by something different altogether – GREED – to convince the men of Shechem to submit to circumcision (“Won't their livestock, etc.…become ours”). Don't just skim over this. Circumcision is common in our culture, but in the land of Canaan, it was a strange mutilation of manhood. Jacob must have had considerable wealth in order to persuade a whole city of men to succumb to such a delicate procedure. Greed is a powerful and insidious motivator.
Gen. 34:25-31 – “Three days later, while all of them were still in pain, two of Jacob's sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, took their swords and attacked the unsuspecting city, killing every male. They put Hamor and his son Shechem to the sword and took Dinah from Shechem's house and left. The sons of Jacob came upon the dead bodies and looted the city where their sister had been defiled. They seized their flocks and herds and donkeys and everything else of theirs in the city and out in the fields. They carried off all their wealth and all their women and children, taking as plunder everything in the houses. Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, 'You have brought trouble on me by making me a stench 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.' But they replied, 'Should he have treated our sister like a prostitute?'” (emphasis added)
  • Known for murdering the whole town of unsuspecting Shechemite men, Simeon's and Levi's REVENGE for their full sister, Dinah (from the same mother, Leah) is legendary. But what about the other “sons of Jacob,” who went to Shechem after the killing spree to plunder the town and take captive the women and children? Are they less wicked because their deeds were motivated by GREED or LUST? And what about Jacob? He chastised only Leah's murderous sons, his only motivation seemed to be SELF-PRESERVATION – which isn't a bad thing…except when he shows no concern at all for his daughter or the dead Shechemites. Imagine if Simeon and Levi were the only ones with impure motives – imagine if Jacob's motives and those of his other sons' would have been righteous and repentant. How different could this event have been?
Lord, it is often in the fire of tragedy that all pretense is burned away and true motives come to light. Please, Father, purify my motives BEFORE the tragedy comes. Reveal where I have less than a clean heart, and by Your grace and mercy, help me to make the necessary decisions to change my heart and become a good and godly example for You on this earth.

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