What was the sin of Dinah’s brothers? Was it that they took vengeance? Reread the Abrahamic covenant to see what it promises, and think about that covenant as it relates to this event. Did they violate that covenant? How does this chapter portray Jacob? Beyond the rape, what does Shechem do, through his father, that is an affront to Jacob and his sons?
For an excellent discussion of this chapter, read Meir Sternberg, The Poetics of Biblical Narrative 445-475.
It is obvious that, like we who try to study and teach the large amounts of material assigned for each lesson, those who created these Sunday School lessons have struggled to deal with the amount of material to be covered. They have had to divide the story of Joseph in two, chapters 37-39 in this lesson and chapters 40-45 in lesson 12, and they have had to omit the denouement of Joseph’s story, chapters 46-47 as well Jacob’s deathbed blessing of his sons and Joseph’s death (48-50). The result forces us to focus on parts of the story and, perhaps, to overlook the story as a whole—which is likely to change our understanding of the parts. However, to understand the story of Joseph, I think that we need to read it as a whole.