13 But the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father, and spoke deceitfully, because he had defiled Dinah their sister.
14 And they said to them, “We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one who is uncircumcised, for that would be a reproach to us.
15 But on this condition we will consent to you: If you will become as we are, if every male of you is circumcised,
16 then we will give our daughters to you, and we will take your daughters to us; and we will dwell with you, and we will become one people.
17 But if you will not heed us and be circumcised, then we will take our daughter and be gone.”
18 And their words pleased Hamor and Shechem, Hamor’s son.
19 So the young man did not delay to do the thing, because he delighted in Jacob’s daughter. He was more honorable than all the household of his father.
20 And Hamor and Shechem his son came to the gate of their city, and spoke with the men of their city, saying:
21 “These men are at peace with us. Therefore let them dwell in the land and trade in it. For indeed the land is large enough for them. Let us take their daughters to us as wives, and let us give them our daughters.
22 Only on this condition will the men consent to dwell with us, to be one people: if every male among us is circumcised as they are circumcised.
23 Will not their livestock, their property, and every animal of theirs be ours? Only let us consent to them, and they will dwell with us.”
24 And all who went out of the gate of his city heeded Hamor and Shechem his son; every male was circumcised, all who went out of the gate of his city.
we will become one people (v.16) — We aren’t told what Jacob thought of all this. He knew God had called his people to be a separate nation. Did he think circumcising the Shechemites would solve this issue? Wechsler thinks so (below). Or was he party to the plot to kill the Shechemites? Or had he left and not heard this part of the conversation? He was angry with Simeon and Levi after the fact (v.30).
Pretending to go along with Hamor’s proposition that there should be general intermarriage between the two peoples, with consequent commercial advantage to both, they said that the only problem was a religious one. It was their religious conviction that every male in their own nation should be circumcised. If indeed they were from that time on to be one people, then the Shechemites also would need to be circumcised. Otherwise, they would have to take Dinah back and keep the two peoples completely segregated in the future. Whether the other brothers knew about the murderous plan or not, the Bible is not clear, but it was Simeon and Levi who carried it out. — Morris, pages 512-513.
the gate of their city (v.20) — At this time, the gate of the city was where the men met and conducted business.
There were certain other nations, beside the Israelites, who practiced circumcision in early times, so that the terms of the agreement did not sound too strange or offensive to the men of Shechem. Hamor gathered them all together at the city’s gate, and laid the whole proposition before them, stressing that they would eventually own all the property of the Israelites as well as have access to their women. The men of Shechem were easily persuaded by such inducements. — Morris, page 513.