I'm reading the bible with my girlfriend. She is devote and I know it is important to her. I'm not, and I'm being exposed to most of this for the first time. I have only been to church a handful of times. I read Genesis 1 to 45 last night, and I plan to read the entire bible. I strongly intend to give things a fair hearing, but some things are bothering me.
I was wondering if someone could help me interpret some things. Before I comment, I want to say that I am not seeking to argue or challenge anyone's beliefs. I just want to understand how I should be interpretting things. I did not grow up Christian so I do not have any context on these things.
From Genesis 1 to 45
Polygamy (having multiple wives or mistresses) - Both Jacob and Abraham have children with multiple women and God doesn't seem to discourage it. Yet this is far from present values. How do I reconcile this?
Undue force - After Shechem defiles (rapes?) Dinah daughter of Jacob, the sons of Jacob go on to deceive and kill all the males in Hamor's city, loot it, and carry off the women. Although rape is terrible, this seems like an excessive response. Yet God protected them, " terror of God fell upon the towns all around them so that no one pursued them". I don't understand this.
Should I be reading this as a history, and assume that the motives of God are higher than ours? Or that god didn't comment because at that point spreading faith was more important than specific sins?
I'd appreciate any insight.