The Grace of the Law – Genesis 34


Moses, by Marc Chagall 1956

Following are questions for conversation based on the Genesis 34 sermon. Please feel free to leave questions or comment.

  • Who is the author of Genesis? (Moses)
  • Who is the original audience for whom the book of Genesis was originally written? (Israel after the Exodus and on the way to the promised land)

Read Genesis 34:

  • Who is Dinah’s mother? Is she the more or less favored wife of Jacob?
  • As appropriate to your group, discuss the following: What did Shechem do to Dinah?
  • Has God revealed his laws to Israel at this point in history? When does God give the Ten Commandments and subsequent laws to Israel?
  • How would God’s law have helped in a situation like this? (see Exodus 22:16-17 and Deuteronomy 22:28-29).
  • Why might Jacob have under-reacted in hearing about the mistreatment of Dinah? (compare Jacob’s reaction in Genesis 34:5 to his reaction to Joseph’s supposed death in 37:31-35)
  • When have you experienced or witnessed an under-reaction to evil? Share with the group.
  • When the sons of Jacob return they react very strongly (v. 7) but then fail to exact a punishment that fit the crime (v. 25-29). How would laws from God have been a helpful provision in this case? Do any laws from the Old Testament come to mind as particularly relevant to this case? (see Exodus 21:23-24).
  • When have you experienced or witnessed an over-reaction to evil? Share with the group.
  • At the end of the story (v. 30-31) there is a disagreement between Jacob and his sons about what should have been done in response to Dinah’s severe mistreatment. Explain how this ending is “ambiguous.”
  • How do God’s laws given to Israel clear up that ambiguity?
  • The main point of this sermon was that the law is grace. How is law (or instruction) gracious?


    Crucifixion of Saint Peter, by Caravaggio 1601

  • Jesus, in John 13:34, commands his disciples. What has he commanded us to do?
  • How is Jesus’ instruction to love like him (laying down your life for others as he has laid down his life for us) a gracious thing?
  • No one perfectly loves like Jesus, and that is why we need to continually be reminded that we are rooted in his sacrificial, complete and perfect love for us (Ephesians 3:14-21). When have you seen a local church love like Jesus, laying down its life for the sake of others? What opportunities does Crossroads have to love others like Jesus?
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