Levi was the third son born to Jacob and Leah. At the time Levi was born, with two older brothers and no half brothers yet, apparently his mother Leah still felt no affection from her husband, Jacob. When Levi was born Leah said, "Surely this time my husband will feel affection for me since I have given him three sons." The name Levi means "being attached or feeling affection for."
If we could jump back in time, I'd grab Leah by the shoulders, look her square in the eye and shout, "Stop having babies with a man who doesn't love you!"
But really, who are any of us to judge. Right ladies? Oh, the stories some of us could tell about what we women have done for the affection of a man.
Well, we're not here to beat up Leah or any of her gender, let's think about Levi. (No man bashing allowed here, but Levi was the son of Jacob and this blogging challenge does center around his sons). Children can sense when parents are in conflict. They feel the conflict of hurting parents. They may not be able to voice it or put words to their feelings, but I wonder if Leah's sons sensed growing up who their father really loved.
So Levi grows up and becomes a brother to 6 more brothers and a sister. I wish we knew the age difference between the children, but at the most logical, Levi was at least 7 or 8 when his little sister Dinah was born.
I told you on D day, Dinah, that there is very little known about her birth, but there is much known about how two of her brothers were affected by something that happened to her.
Levi was one of the brothers.
Dinah was defiled, she was raped, or as the Hebrew definition says, "lay with her by force." We don't know how old she was at the time but only that "she went out to visit the women of the land." While she went out to visit the women of the land, "Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, the ruler of that area, saw her, took her and violated her."
What's interesting is that, like many 21st century women can relate, after he violated her he professed his love to her and spoke tenderly to her.
And did nothing. Well, sort of. Shechem's father came to Jacob to make a deal with Jacob, his women for Jacob's women, but at the same time he was giving his sales pitch, Dinah's brothers found out what happened. They were "filled with grief and fury, because Shechem had done a disgraceful thing in Israel by lying with Jacob's daughter - thing that should not be done."
You can read about what all happened in Genesis 34. It isn't pretty but it would help you understand the rest of my take on Levi.
It's not pretty....What Jacob didn't did or didn't do isn't pretty. What Simeon and Levi took it upon themselves to do to bring revenge on Shechem. Not pretty. Pretty gruesome.
But when the murders were over, the plunder plundered, then Jacob spoke.
"You have brought trouble on me by making me a stench to the Canaanites and Perizzites, the people living in this land. We are few in number, and if they join forces against me and attack me, I and my household will be destroyed."
But Simeon and Levi did not bend to their father's rebuke, but said, "Should he have treated our sister like a prostitute?"
Not a shining moment for the family.
If Jacob had not said to God, "If you....then I" maybe this whole mess would have been avoided.
Maybe if the sons sat in the shoes of the father and waited for the father to act.....
But if either of these scenarios would have played out, you and I would have missed some big lessons.
Levi, despite his violent ways, was the one God used to bring justice to his little sister. Levi's descendants were set apart from all the other children of Israel to be the Levites. Those descendants were in charge of God's holy dwelling. They were the ones whose priests facilitated oneness with God for their relatives.
Moses and Aaron came from Levi, the revenge warrior's line.
Moses, the one to lead thousands out of slavery came from the one who avenged his little sister's rape and bore his father's disgrace.
When Jacob died, he said this about him and his brother Simeon: "Simeon and Levi are brothers - their swords are weapons of violence. Let me not enter their council, let me not join their assembly, for they have killed men in their anger and hamstrung oxen as they pleased. Cursed be their anger, so fierce, and their fury, so cruel! I will scatter them in Jacob and disperse them in Israel."
But God let Levi's descendants carry the Ark in which held the Ten Commands and Aaron's staff.
God knows a little bit more about redemption than an earthly father.
Moses was a little more prophetic when he said this about Levi's descendants: "Your Thummim and Urim belong to the man you favored. You tested him at Massah; you contended with him at the waters of Meribah. He said of his father and mother, 'I have no regard for them.' He did not recognize his brothers or acknowledge his own children, but he watched over your word and guarded your covenant. He teaches your precepts to Jacob and your law to Israel. He offers incense before you and whole burnt offerings on your altar. Bless all his skills, O LORD, and be pleased with the work of his hands. Smite the loins of those who rise up against him; strike his foes till they rise no more."
Levi's descendants were musicians in Solomon's temple. Levi's descendants were priests for Jacob's God. Levi's descendants carried a vein of violence and rebellion just like their namesake.
But God used him anyway.
Just like God uses us, anyway.
Take hope in Levi's story. Find camaraderie with Levi when faced with injustice, but act on the knowledge of God's promise to Jacob before making God prove himself to you. Bad things will happen, but a heart that trusts in what God declares himself to be will keep that same heart from being an agent of bringing bad things to fruition.
Let us all learn from Jacob. Let us all feel the pain of Levi's knowledge of his unloved mother. But then, let us see the God who spoke to Jacob in a dream as the God who is our own God.
"I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you."
God did do everything he promised Jacob. Everything.
He proved himself, just like Jacob asked. Levi was part of the promise. That little boy's heart, perhaps seeing the tears of his unloved mother fall, was part of the picture of redemption for his whole family.