Genesis 34:27

ESV The sons of Jacob came upon the slain and plundered the city, because they had defiled their sister.
NIV The sons of Jacob came upon the dead bodies and looted the city where their sister had been defiled.
NASB Jacob’s sons came upon those killed and looted the city, because they had defiled their sister.
CSB Jacob's sons came to the slaughter and plundered the city because their sister had been defiled.
NLT Meanwhile, the rest of Jacob’s sons arrived. Finding the men slaughtered, they plundered the town because their sister had been defiled there.
KJV The sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and spoiled the city, because they had defiled their sister.

What does Genesis 34:27 mean?

Referring to this location as a "city" can lead modern readers to a misunderstanding. In many cultures today, the term "city" usually means tens or hundreds of thousands of people. In the ancient world, a "city" might have been as few as several hundred people. Similar confusion can arise when reading that this massacre was committed by two sons of Jacob, Levi and Simeon (Genesis 34:25). These brothers would have brought along their combat-capable servants, as well. This was not the equivalent of a superhero film where two allies defeat tens of thousands of enemies in hand-to-hand combat.

No matter how many people were involved, all the town's fighting men have been killed thanks to deception by the sons of Jacob (Genesis 34:13–16). This allows the entire area to be ransacked.

Once the battle is over, Jacob's other sons—and, again, their servants—entered the city to collect all items of value. In that era, a city without adult men was no city at all. Everything there, including the women and children, will be absorbed into the families of Jacob's sons (Genesis 34:28–29).

It's expected a modern reader will find these actions atrocious. Jacob, for his part, will worry this retaliation will be taken poorly by surrounding communities (Genesis 34:30). Simeon and Levi seem to argue that the townspeople are accomplices in Shechem's rape of their sister (Genesis 34:1–3). The people of the city had not stepped in to hold him accountable for the crime. They appear to have condoned his treatment of Dinah, or at least done little to hold the rapist accountable (Genesis 34:31).

Genesis does not explicitly condemn or approve the response of Levi and Simeon. On one hand, this same region will be marked out for destruction as a result of wickedness, after God frees Israel from Egypt (Deuteronomy 9:4). On the other hand, there is no sense that God commanded this retaliation. And, later, Simeon and Levi will suffer consequences in their inheritance due to their actions here (Genesis 49:5–7). It's possible God brought judgment on the city of Shechem. This might have been to avert possible attacks from the Canaanites later on (Genesis 35:5). It's also possible Levi and Simeon simply went outrageously overboard in pursuit of justice. Or, all of these might be part of the meaning of this story.

The following verses describe the wealth Jacob's family added from the Shechemite people following the slaughter.
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