a victim like so many girls and women down through the ages. She was young,
pretty, defenseless and easy prey when she was alone. She didn’t ask to
be a victim of a crime. She had gone into town looking for friends. Nothing
in this account suggests there was any complicity on Dinah’s part. [See
the Editor’s Notes at the bottom.]
Now Dinah, the daughter Leah had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the women of the land. When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, the ruler of that area, saw her, he took her and violated* her. (Genesis 34:1-2)Her feelings and the long term consequences to her life are not recorded, but what happened to her tells us a lot about her family and the society around her.
The prince who raped her was used to taking whatever he wanted. To him, she wasn’t a person with feelings and dreams; she was an object to be possessed.
The ruler Hamor saw an opportunity to profit by an alliance with a wealthy family.
So Hamor and his son Shechem went to the gate of their city to speak to their fellow townsmen. “These men are friendly toward us,” they said. “Let them live in our land and trade in it; the land has plenty of room for them. We can marry their daughters and they can marry ours. But the men will consent to live with us as one people only on the condition that our males be circumcised, as they themselves are. Won’t their livestock, their property and all their other animals become ours? So let us give our consent to them, and they will settle among us.” (Genesis 34:20-23)Dinah’s brothers, Levi and Simeon were furious and grieved for their captive sister. They plotted revenge. They appeared to agree to an alliance through marriage with the Hivites, but only if all the men of Shechem were circumcised. When these men were still in pain and weakened, Simeon and Levi slaughtered them all. Like Laban and Jacob before them, they relied on deceit instead of the mighty God of Israel.
All the men who went out of the city gate agreed with Hamor and his son Shechem, and every male in the city was circumcised. Three days later, while all of them were still in pain, two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, took their swords and attacked the unsuspecting city, killing every male. They put Hamor and his son Shechem to the sword and took Dinah from Shechem’s house and left. The sons of Jacob came upon the dead bodies and looted the city where their sister had been defiled. They seized their flocks and herds and donkeys and everything else of theirs in the city and out in the fields. They carried off all their wealth and all their women and children, taking as plunder everything in the houses. (Genesis 34:24-29)Dinah’s father Jacob kept quiet until after his sons had acted. Jacob referred to his daughter as “unclean” which implies she was not considered an asset to the family. He expresses no outrage or grief as Dinah’s brothers did.
When Jacob heard that his daughter Dinah had been defiled**, his sons were in the fields with his livestock; so he kept quiet about it until they came home. (Genesis 34:5)After his sons had murdered and looted, 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.” (Genesis 34:30)Jacob was willing to abandon his daughter to avoid trouble with Shechem and allow his family to be assimilated into this pagan society. He failed once again to fully trust God to keep his promise to his family.***
Dinah’s brothers then asked their father a haunting question: “Should he have treated our sister as a prostitute?” (Genesis 34:31)****
Again, Jacob is silent.
Fathers are still silent when girls and women are treated as prostitutes. Our sacred bodies are displayed on billboards, magazine and book covers, on television and in movies. Girls are conditioned from infancy to believe their greatest asset is their ability to incite lustful attention. Being sexy is treated as an achievement worthy of headline news and certainly not as newsworthy as being charitable or accomplished. Being holy and chaste in mind and body is ridiculed. This is all a form of rape. This is violence to our mind and soul as much as rape is a violence to the body.
Fathers are willing to trade the bodies of their sons and daughters for profit, security or even entertainment as in the theater and sports. Mothers are willing accomplices by encouraging the pursuit of surface beauty and shallow materialism.
Christians, too, are silent. Pastors will not teach about sin and holiness, because their congregations won’t stand for it. Instead of setting an example of moral behavior, theologians are too busy arguing over semantics and teaching a Pauline theology that Paul would be horrified to see attached to his name. We remain silent when the Bible is banned from public schools while books that undermine a moral society are actively taught. The result is a society that thinks the Bible is outdated and dangerous and people who follow Christ are ignorant or even evil. A secular society is considered wholesome while the teachings of Jesus are ridiculed. Meanwhile, the predators feed their evil obsessions on readily available pornography and prey on our children.
What is the antidote to this poisonous attitude throughout society?
Fathers, stop being silent! Stop giving tacit consent to the merchandising of your sons and daughters. If you don’t buy it, they can’t sell it. What are you teaching your sons when you support sport teams whose players do not act honorably toward women? What are you teaching your children when you buy tickets to movies that undermine the teachings of Jesus?
Teach your daughters to value themselves as made in the image of God. Teach your sons to respect women by being respectful yourself and not tolerating disrespectful talk. Teach them by example. Seek out good quality parenting information from Christian sources, such as Focus on the Family. Lay down family ground rules that protect your children and that promote a godly mindset in your children. Most of all, don’t bow down to the idols of sex, money, and power yourself.
Be vigilant! Be present! But don’t be silent!
Most of all, believe and trust in the only Creator God and his Son, Jesus
and act on that trust by being holy.
Editor’s Notes Below:
** In Genesis 34:5, the Hebrew word translated “defiled” ( tame) means in the verb form, “to be unclean.” (Reference for both “anah“ and “tame“: The New Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, copyright 2001)
*** The account about Dinah begins in Genesis 33:18 and flows through chapter 35: 7. Jacob bought property located near the city of Shechem where he set up an altar to the Lord God. After God told him to leave the area, Jacob orders all the foreign gods in their possession to be buried on that property. Did this include the household gods that Rachel had stolen from Laban? ( Genesis 31:34) Were these idols that the sons had looted out of the city of Shechem? The account doesn’t say. We can wonder whether or not Jacob’s family were wholehearted and single minded about worshipping the Lord God alone. Was this idolatry a reason for the silence of God and their failure to consult him? We can only speculate.
Note that the brothers did not accuse Dinah of acting like a prostitute.
They were outraged that she was being treated as if she were.
For the Scripture References and related
Bible Study Guide, go to Bible
Study Guide: A Disgraceful Thing