The Destruction of Shechem

Jacob bought a plot of land from the people of Shechem and lived there for some time.

One day his daughter Dinah went to attend a festival of the women of Shechem. Shechem son of Hamor, the king of the city of Shechem, saw her and fell in love with her. He kidnapped her and forced her to stay and live with him. Jacob and his sons were horrified and humiliated by this outrage, and they were determined to avenge their sister’s dishonor. They knew that even according to the laws of Shechem, this outrage was a crime punishable with death, and that the entire population of Shechem had had a share in the crime. Simeon and Levi fell upon Shechem and slew all the men, including Hamor and his son Shechem.

Jacob rebuked his sons for this action. Soon a large army of Canaanites gathered to fight Jacob and his sons. But Jacob and his father Isaac prayed to G‑d, and the Canaanite kings became frightened and resolved to return to their cities without a fight.

The War against the Seven Kings

Jacob moved to Hebron where his father Isaac lived. There he resided many years. Then he returned to Shechem because the land was best suited for his large flocks. Again the kings of Canaan united to destroy the children of Israel. But with the help of G‑d, and under the heroic leadership of Judah, the small army, composed of Jacob’s sons and servants, defeated the seven kings who had united against them. The rest of the Canaanite kings were now so afraid of Jacob’s sons, that they preferred to make peace with them.

Jacob returned to Hebron, but his sons stayed with the herds near Shechem.

Isaac died at the age of one hundred and eighty, and his sons Jacob and Esau laid him to rest in the Cave of Machpelah. Esau took all the wealth and movable possessions of his father and settled in Seir, while Jacob inherited the land of Canaan, as G‑d had promised.