Dinah

In Study the Women of the Bible by revealadmin1 Comment

“Proverbs….for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight; for receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young – let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance – for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:1-7).

Summer of 1992…….

I held my head down low as the officer opened the door and asked me to sit in the back of his squad car. I don’t remember much of the short drive back to my house, but I do remember feeling ‘caught’.

When my parents separated after my eighth grade year, I moved to a new town, a new school, and a new church. My life had been turned upside down and my rebellious spirit was kicking in. Fourteen year olds can have this sense of invincibility, but in reality, we are screaming for attention. I was definitely screaming inside and bottling it up.

During the transition and over the summer of 1991, I had a met boy who lived not to far from my house. Although forbade to meet him, I would sneak out of my house at night til the wee hours of the morning. A private golf course was between our homes and we would gather there. I look back now and by God’s grace nothing ever happen to me as I walked home 3am-4am in the morning.

I attended school, but remember falling asleep in class, especially “Study Hall”. Down my head would go on my books, only the sound of the bell alerting me to my next class. I remember my grades slipping and almost failing several classes. I shake my head now wishing I had cracked down on those books and studied harder.

These midnight rendezvous with my friend lasted several months and then ended. I look back at a change in my life for a few months, but some how rekindled the relationship before I was to move again the summer before my sophomore year of high school. After months of deception, I had finally been caught. Brought home in a police car, I sat in the back imagining what was to happen to me.

Dinah….

There is a young woman in the Bible whom had the same inquisitive nature. The daughter of Jacob and Leah, Dinah, destined to live under God’s covenant blessing should have been more careful maintaining the honor of her home and nation. [1]

Dinah’s name means “justice” or who one judges and how her name will play a role in her family’s justice in regards to a questionable encounter. How many youthful Dinahs are there today, captivated by the glimmer and glamor of the world. Tired of life at home, leaving without warning, and becoming lost in a whirlwind exploring a large city? “There is an alarming increase in the numbers of girls who, anxious for change and wanting to see something of the world, turn aside from the shelter of a good home and are never seen of again. Many of them end up in sin, crime, and degradation.” [2]

 A young woman is bored. She is bored with life at home and desires to explore. While Jacob and his family were living in Shechem, Dinah his daughter mingled socially with the heathen women, a breach of proper separation from the ungodly [4]. Forbidden association for the Israelites, Dinah will experiences sin, shame, and death. [2]

According to Genesis 34, Dinah went to visit the women of the land. Maybe drawn to their pagan ways, sexual appetites, or beautiful appearances, the young maiden is seen by a man full of lust. Hamor the Hivite, ruler of the area, took her and had sex with her. The Bible says, “His heart was drawn to Dinah, he loved the young woman and spoke tenderly to her. And Shechem said to his father, ‘Get me this girl as my wife’” (Genesis 34:1-3).

When Dinah’s brothers hear of the scandalous tryst, the scheme they concocted resulted in murdering every male and looting the city where she had been ‘defiled’. Seizing the flocks and herds and donkeys and everything else of theirs in the city and out in the fields, Simeon and Levi carried off all the wealth and all their women and children, taking as plunder everything in the houses. Jacob’s reply? “You have brought trouble on me by making me obnoxious 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)

Simeon and Levi are stunned, “Should he have treated our sister like a prostitute?” The young Shechum asked to marry Dinah; his heart enamored with the beautiful young Hebrew girl, but the boys would hear nothing of it. What was left of this sordid young woman’s life? Her brothers “avenging” her because no uncircumcised pagan could have her, but ironically the brothers seize all the woman and children? We do not hear of Dinah again. My heart can only hope she found love and married. My hope is someone looked past her “defilement” and loved her for who she was. Sadly, her heart is never heard.

Dinah’s story in the Bible is debated. Was she raped or was it consensual? R. Kent Hughes, author of the Preaching the Word series, Genesis, writes, “There was only one girl among Jacob’s children, Dinah, the daughter of unloved Leah. Dinah appeared to have been of little interest at all to Jacob. This coupled with the fact that Jacob was not where God wanted him to be geographically or spiritually left her particularly vulnerable. And so here in Shechem young Dinah was pushing at the edges when she ‘went out’ to see the women of the land. Girls of marriageable age were not permitted to leave the tents of their people to go about visiting without a chaperone. In face, the Hebrew term ‘went out’ bears a sense of impropriety. Likely she went out behind Leah’s back. And the worst happened. Dinah became the victim of a violent rape.” [3]

Jewish Women’s Archive gives a different and interesting perspective, “The story invites two opposing interpretations. The traditional understanding is that Dinah has been raped by Shechem. Her brothers Simeon and Levi retaliate by violently slaying and plundering Shechem, Hamor, and the Shechemite community. But the retaliation puts Jacob’s group in jeopardy by making subsequent social intercourse and peaceful coexistence impossible. Jacob thus reprimands his sons for their behavior.

But concerning the question of whether Dinah has been raped, the final clue comes in the last sentence of the story. Simeon and Levi say, “Should our sister be treated like a whore?” (34:31). Prostitutes engage in sexual intercourse for financial gain, and their sexual actions involve mutual consent. Rape therefore does not characterize either prostitution or what has happened to Dinah.

Furthermore, one of the purposes of sexual intercourse in the ancient world was to create permanent bonding and obligation; but in prostitution, there is no bonding or obligation. By saying that Dinah has become like a prostitute, Simeon and Levi might be suggesting that, from their perspective, Dinah and Shechem’s intercourse could never lead to bonding and obligation. They are not suggesting that she was raped.

Upon hearing the news about his daughter, Jacob is at first silent; then he negotiates Dinah’s marriage to Shechem. If Dinah has been raped, Jacob ignores his obligation to protect the women of his household and ignores Dinah’s suffering. This seems peculiar—does it suggest that Dinah was not raped? In the Hebrew Scriptures, rape is generally indicated by a cry for help from the woman (showing lack of consent) and violence on the part of the man (indicating a forcible, hostile act).

But the intercourse of Shechem does not fit this pattern. Genesis 34:2 reports that he sees Dinah, takes her (the Hebrew word for “take” is often used for taking a wife), lies with her (a euphemism for sexual intercourse), and shames her (the NRSV combines the last two verbs, rendering “lay with her by force,” a reading that should be contested). Then the text provides three expressions of affection: first it says he bonds with her (the NRSV uses “was drawn” to her, but the word bonds more appropriately represents a word used for marital bonding), then that he loves her, and finally that he speaks tenderly to her. From this description Shechem appears to be a man in love, not a man committing an exploitative act of rape. Rapists feel hostility and hatred toward their victims, not closeness and tenderness.” [4]

Scholars continue to debate over what truly happened to Dinah, but again, I think the most profound tragedy is she was never able to tell her side of the story. It is so important to pray over our youth and their decisions. Love you daughters and encourage them to, “Listen to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teachings. They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck” (Proverbs 1:8-9).

Comments

  1. Catherine

    Isn’t it incredible how we can live do vicariously and yet be spared of really bad things. I remember in high school me and my friend Robin were out at a fast food place and ran into a couple of guys from a different school. We just hopped into their truck and took off with them. Thank God they only took us riding around and brought us right back. That is one story of many. We could have been raped, kidnapped or even killed. Thank God they were nice country boys but some are not. I don’t know why God protected us but I am so very grateful He did.

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