The Rape of Dinah?

Alexandre Cabanel- Rape of DinahGenesis 34

1   Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the women of the land;  2 and when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of the land, saw her, he seized her and lay with her and humbled her.  3 And his soul was drawn to Dinah the daughter of Jacob; he loved the maiden and spoke tenderly to her.  4 So Shechem spoke to his father Hamor, saying, “Get me this maiden for my wife.”  5 Now Jacob heard that he had defiled his daughter Dinah; but his sons were with his cattle in the field, so Jacob held his peace until they came.  6 And Hamor the father of Shechem went out to Jacob to speak with him.  7 The sons of Jacob came in from the field when they heard of it; and the men were indignant and very angry, because he had wrought folly in Israel by lying with Jacob’s daughter, for such a thing ought not to be done. 

8   But Hamor spoke with them, saying, “The soul of my son Shechem longs for your daughter; I pray you, give her to him in marriage.  9 Make marriages with us; give your daughters to us, and take our daughters for yourselves.  10 You shall dwell with us; and the land shall be open to you; dwell and trade in it, and get property in it.”  11 Shechem also said to her father and to her brothers, “Let me find favor in your eyes, and whatever you say to me I will give.  12 Ask of me ever so much as marriage present and gift, and I will give according as you say to me; only give me the maiden to be my wife.” 

13   The sons of Jacob answered Shechem and his father Hamor deceitfully, because he had defiled their sister Dinah.  14 They said to them, “We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one who is uncircumcised, for that would be a disgrace to us.  15 Only on this condition will we consent to you: that you will become as we are and every male of you be circumcised.  16 Then we will give our daughters to you, and we will take your daughters to ourselves, and we will dwell with you and become one people.  17 But if you will not listen to us and be circumcised, then we will take our daughter, and we will be gone.” 

8   Their words pleased Hamor and Hamor’s son Shechem.  19 And the young man did not delay to do the thing, because he had delight in Jacob’s daughter. Now he was the most honored of all his family.  20 So Hamor and his son Shechem came to the gate of their city and spoke to the men of their city, saying,  21 “These men are friendly with us; let them dwell in the land and trade in it, for behold, the land is large enough for them; let us take their daughters in marriage, and let us give them our daughters.  22 Only on this condition will the men agree to dwell with us, to become one people: that every male among us be circumcised as they are circumcised.  23 Will not their cattle, their property and all their beasts be ours? Only let us agree with them, and they will dwell with us.”  24 And all who went out of the gate of his city hearkened to Hamor and his son Shechem; and every male was circumcised, all who went out of the gate of his city. 

25   On the third day, when they were sore, two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, took their swords and came upon the city unawares, and killed all the males.  26 They slew Hamor and his son Shechem with the sword, and took Dinah out of Shechem’s house, and went away.  27 And the sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and plundered the city, because their sister had been defiled;  28 they took their flocks and their herds, their asses, and whatever was in the city and in the field;  29 all their wealth, all their little ones and their wives, all that was in the houses, they captured and made their prey.  30 Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought trouble on me by making me odious to the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites and the Perizzites; my numbers are few, and if they gather themselves against me and attack me, I shall be destroyed, both I and my household.”  31 But they said, “Should he treat our sister as a harlot?”

The question always is was this rape or was Dinah willing? By our standards in our culture it would seem to be statuary rape. However for the culture and standards of the time it is hard to tell. Hamor and his son Shechem are certainly willing to do anything to make it right with Jacob’s tribe. They offer to pay the brides price. They even accept the sign of the covenant, and it is no small thing for a grown man to consider circumcision, and also be able to talk you entire city to submit to it as well. So there is also a question of whether this city became believers or already were believers.

Hamor presents the whole situation as a political alliance with Jacob to the city leaders. He presents the prospects of great gain from such an alliance. So it is possible that the motivation was greed. Jacob and his sons where not small shepherds, and must have been obviously wealthy and rather militaristic and fearful.

Then there is the fact that Jacob agrees to the marriage. It is hard to tell whether this is because he wants no further trouble or whether he is giving his daughter what she wants. One would think a father would do what is best for his daughter.

Rape or force mars the image of God’s love for us, in that God never forces Himself on anybody. He only offers to be our beloved, He pays the brides price with every drop of His own blood, all He asks in return is faithfulness. There will come a time when those that have rejected Him will be judged but in the here and now He never uses force. Those who come to Him come of their own free will.

For as a young man marries a virgin, so shall your sons marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you. Is. 62:5

We love, because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19

This event stays with Jacob all his life for when he is dying and blessing his sons he says of Simeon and Levi;

5 Simeon and Levi are brothers; weapons of violence are their swords. 6 O my soul, come not into their council; O my spirit, be not joined to their company; for in their anger they slay men, and in their wantonness they hamstring oxen. 7 Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce; and their wrath, for it is cruel! I will divide them in Jacob and scatter them in Israel. Gen. 49:5-7

This all marred the image of God’s love for us, in that God never forces Himself on anybody. He comes and offers to be our beloved, He pays the brides price, all He asks in return if faithfulness.


2 thoughts on “The Rape of Dinah?

  1. Another angle: Jacob did not immediately act as a father toward Leah’s daughter Dinah. The anger of the Leah’s sons might partly be due to this. “What’s our sister, chopped liver?” They expressed their anger at Jacob in verse 31. The brothers “carried off the women and children” of Shechem, but does not say what became of them. Could there have been their first transaction with slavers who later carried Joseph to Egypt?

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