14 June 2012

Hamor: the best father in the Bible (Greater love hath no father than this, that he cut off his own foreskin for his son.)

In a previous post, I listed 15 of the best fathers in the Bible. I wasn't entirely serious, of course, as each of the fathers on the list behaved about as badly as any father could possibly behave. None of them could serve as a good role model for fathers on Father's Day. And yet there is nothing in the Bible itself that shows the slightest disapproval of any of their bad behavior. They are, in fact, about as good as fathers get in the Bible.

But, surely, there must be some good fathers in the Bible. Maybe, but there's only one that I can honestly recommend for fathers on Father's Day.

His story is found in Genesis 34 and his name is Hamor.

The story begins when Dinah, the daughter of Jacob, goes out to meet her Hivite neighbors.
Dinah the daughter of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land.  Genesis 34:1
While she was visiting, a young Hivite man named Shechem saw her and immediately fell in love with her. (Well, maybe not immediately, but after he had sex with her, anyway. The Bible doesn't say whether it was consensual or not.)
And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her. And his soul clave unto Dinah ... and he loved the damsel, and spake kindly unto the damsel. 34:2-3
Shechem told his father that he'd like to marry Dinah.
Shechem spake unto his father Hamor, saying, Get me this damsel to wife. 34.4
So Hamor went to talk to Jacob about it.
And Hamor the father of Shechem went out unto Jacob to commune with him ... saying, The soul of my son Shechem longeth for your daughter: I pray you give her him to wife. 34.6-8
Hamor suggested that the Hivites and the Israelites live together in peace, trading and intermarrying with one other. 
And make ye marriages with us, and give your daughters unto us, and take our daughters unto you.  And ye shall dwell with us: and the land shall be before you; dwell and trade ye therein, and get you possessions therein. 34:9-10
Jacob didn't seem to care much about it, one way or another. But his sons did. It was all about the Hivite's penises.
The sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father deceitfully, and said, ... We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one that is uncircumcised. 34:13-14
The problem was that little flap of skin at the tip of the Hivite's penises. If they'd just cut that off, then they could all happily live together in peace.
But in this will we consent unto you: If ye will be as we be, that every male of you be circumcised; Then will we give our daughters unto you, and we will take your daughters to us, and we will dwell with you, and we will become one people. 34:15-16
Hamor agrees to this. He, along with his son and all the male Hivites, will cut off that little flap of skin at the end of their penises as a sacrifice for peace. (Greater love hath no father than this, that he cut off his own foreskin for his son.)
And Hamor and Shechem his son ... communed with the men of their city, saying,  These men are peaceable with us; therefore let them dwell in the land, and trade therein; for the land, behold, it is large enough for them; let us take their daughters to us for wives, and let us give them our daughters.  Only herein will the men consent unto us for to dwell with us, to be one people, if every male among us be circumcised, as they are circumcised. ... Let us consent unto them, and they will dwell with us. 34:20-21
So Hamor, Shechem and every male Hivite cut off that little flap of skin that offends God so much.
And every male was circumcised. 34:24

And Dinah and Shechem were married and everyone lived happily ever after.

Just kidding.

Here's what actually happened.

And it came to pass on the third day, when they were sore, that two of the sons of Jacob ... took each man his sword, and came upon the city boldly, and slew all the males. And they slew Hamor and Shechem his son with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah out of Shechem's house, and went out. The sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and spoiled the city, because they had defiled their sister. ... And all their wealth, and all their little ones, and their wives took they captive, and spoiled even all that was in the house. 34:25-29
But at least Hamor died for something worthwhile -- the happiness of his son and peace in the world. And thereby set a great example for Father's Day.


skanksta said...

"They all lived happily ever after - just kidding!"

Lol, lol and literally rofl ! Steve Wells will you think of my poor sides ?

Well played Hamor :)

I hear a challenge to believers to find more good-fathering examples coming on...

Stephen said...

Well, here's a guy with a 100-pound scrotum:

One of the comments says god will fix this. Meanwhile, he probably can't find his foreskin.
Steve Weeks

C. L. Hanson said...

Note that this post has been nominated for a Brodie Award for insightful discussion of religion and kids/parenting. You can vote for it here.