New Defender's Study Bible Notes
34:1 Dinah. Dinah must have been at least in her teens by this time, so that Jacob and his family must have lived in Succoth and Shechem almost ten years. Her older brothers–Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah–were thus at least in their twenties.
34:5 Jacob held his peace. Jacob apparently took no part in the subsequent negotiations and plans, perhaps so grieved and distressed that he went off by himself. Probably he suddenly realized his dreadful mistake in settling so close and so long to such a callously immoral pagan city as Shechem. However, he compounded his mistake by being so indecisive in this crisis, abdicating his responsibility to Dinah’s two hot-headed older brothers.
34:19 more honourable. That is, Shechem was “honored” more than anyone else. Because of the high esteem in which he was held by the others, and by his willingness to be circumcised, the other men agreed to submit to a religious rite which they knew would be painful and questionable.
34:25 slew all the males. This act of murderous revenge, preceded by deception and blasphemy, was no doubt reconciled in the minds of Simeon and Levi as a case of the end justifying the means. The name of Israel had been tarnished severely (Genesis 34:7), their beloved sister not only raped but bargained for like a harlot, and the whole affair treated as a matter-of-fact commercial arrangement by the city’s king. The crime could not be ignored, but they could not take vengeance on Shechem only, since the rest of the men were as guilty as he in their attitudes about it (these men would themselves have defiled Dinah if they had had the opportunity, but they had to defer to their “honored” prince). Also, if the other men would have been spared, they would immediately have responded with a vendetta against all the Israelites. Jacob, by God’s wisdom, could surely have found a better solution, but in his grief had withdrawn from the whole situation.
34:29 wives took they captive. Critics have alleged that the women were taken by the sons of Israel for their own sexual purposes, but this is certainly an unwarranted assumption. They took the women and children “captive” (they at least spared their lives and provided for their future sustenance), evidently using them as servants thereafter. Jacob already had a significant retinue of servants, and they probably joined them.