Daughters in the Bible: Dinah, Was Avenged by her Brothers

Last week, we discussed Leah and Rachel and their father Laban and husband Jacob.  This week we discuss Jacob and Leah’s only daughter.

While Jacob had twelve sons, only one daughter is mentioned in scripture.

And then [Leah] had a daughter and she named her Dinah. (Genesis 30:21) 

Jacob met {and eventually married} Leah and Rachel

Jacob and Leah named their daughter Dinah. The name Dinah means avenged.

The majority of what we know about Dinah comes from Genesis 34.

Now Dinah, the daughter Leah had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the women of the land.  {Genesis 34:1}

Dinah was a young woman, looking to make friends with other young women in the area.  After all, she is surrounded by her brothers and parents and her father’s other wives.  All young girls need a friend.

The abduction of Dinah, depicted by James Tissot from Wikipedia

When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, the ruler of that area, saw her, he took her and raped her.  His heart was drawn to Dinah daughter of Jacob; he loved the young woman and spoke tenderly to her.  And Shechem said to his father Hamor, “Get me this girl as my wife.”  {Genesis 34:2-5}

“Rape was an ever present danger in the ancient world too, and God’s law specifically teaches that women like Dinah are to be held guiltless if they are attacked.”  {Women—the Life and Times}

Rape is a horrendous crime on the person being defiled and leaves internal and emotional scars we never see.

When Jacob heard that his daughter Dinah had been defiled, his sons were in the fields with his livestock; so he did nothing about it until they came home.  {Genesis 34:6}

Jacob waited on his sons to come in from the fields to receive their council.  Why he did not act then we do not know?

Then Shechem’s father Hamor went out to talk with Jacob.  Meanwhile, Jacob’s sons had

17th century depiction of the rape of Dinah from Wikipedia

come in from the fields as soon as they heard what had happened. They were shocked and furious, because Shechem had done an outrageous thing in Israel by sleeping with Jacob’s daughter—a thing that should not be done.  {Genesis 34: 6-7}

“Dinah’s rape caused both grief and anger.  We can assume that the grief was for Dinah, their little sister.  But the anger was for the insult done to the family.”  {Women—the Life and Times}

The men were outraged at what happened to their sister and their family honor.

The next three verses share how Hamor convinced Jacob and the daughters to intermarry with his daughters.

Then Shechem said to Dinah’s father and brothers, “Let me find favor in your eyes, and I will give you whatever you ask. 12 Make the price for the bride and the gift I am to bring as great as you like, and I’ll pay whatever you ask me. Only give me the young woman as my wife.”   {Genesis 34:11-12}

Jacob had many sons, but one daughter

“When the sons of Leah bargained with Hamor, Shechem’s father, they never spoke to their sister to solicit her opinions or to see if she wanted the kind of justice they had in mind.”  {Women—the Life and Times}

Dinah’s feelings and emotions were ignored.  The brothers did not even seek her opinion.  Instead, they decided on their course of action and carried it out.

The brothers turned to the law to decide part of their course of action.  They used the law of circumcision in their deceitful plan.

“Because their sister Dinah had been defiled, Jacob’s sons replied deceitfully as they spoke

Gerard Hoet: “Simeon and Levi slay the people of Shechem” from Wikipedia

to Shechem and his father Hamor. They said to them, “We can’t do such a thing; we can’t give our sister to a man who is not circumcised. That would be a disgrace to us… But if you will not agree to be circumcised, we’ll take our sister and go.”   {Genesis 34:13-17}

“When Shechem and his father requested marriage, Dinah’s brothers condcuted the negotiations.  They hid their anger, and falsely promised to permit the marriage if the men of the city would accept circumcision.”  {Every Woman in the Bible}

The man was willing to do anything necessary to marry Dinah.  He was delighted with her.  Clearly, she was very beautiful.

“The young man, who was the most honored of all his father’s family, lost no time in doing what they said, because he was delighted with Jacob’s daughter. {Genesis 34:19}

All of the men went through the circumcision process as promised.  Shechem was so eager to do anything necessary to marry Dinah that he was doing whatever was asked of him.  He did not know that the brothers had evil in store for them?

Dinah, Portrait of a Negress by Eastman Johnson from Wikipedia

“But the report of Dinah’s rape conveys the clear impression that the brothers’ strongest motive in plotting revenge was the belief that, in raping Dinah, Shechem had affronted them.” {Every Woman in the Bible}

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.  {Genesis 34:25-26}

We discover that Dinah was at Shechem’s house.  Had she been sent willingly by the family or was she being held their as a prisoner?  First she had been defiled, then she was in her defilers household and promised to him in marriage.  We do not know how she felt or what she thought about Shechem.  Did she detest him or was their affection between them?

She witnesses her brothers kill Shechem’s people and to loot their homes.

The sons of Jacob came upon the dead bodies and looted the city where their sister had been defiled.  {Genesis 34:27}

His wives and children left the only home they knew

Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “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}

Jacob is angry at his sons and their impulsive nature.  One can imagine that he was seething when he learned of their actions.

 But they replied, “Should he have treated our sister like a prostitute?”  {Genesis 34:31}

The brothers announce how they felt their sister had been treated.  But we are not told how they treated her when she returned home.

The Lord blessed Jacob with many descendants

Jacob and Leah’s hearts must have been broken at what happened with their children.  Jacob did not forget what these two sons did, because he cursed their anger on his deathbed {Genesis 49}.

“Dinah, her only daughter, had been raped by a local prince on their return to Jacob’s homeland.  Leah hardly knew how to comfort her.  To make matters worse, her sons Levi and Simeon avenged their sister by savagely murdering a town full of people.”  {Women of the New Testament}

So, what happened to Dinah?   Our only clue comes in Genesis 46:15, “These were the sons Leah bore to Jacob in Paddan Aram, besides his daughter Dinah.”

“Over twenty years later Dinah’s name is included on the list of those who traveled to

Jacob took his entire family with him to reunite with his son Joseph

Egypt where her half-brother Joseph was vizier…Dinah, among {those listed} is still alone and childless.  It would seem that the young woman whose name meant “justice” received little of it in her life on earth.”  {Every Woman in the Bible}

Dinah remained with her family, seemingly have never married.  She journeyed with her father and brothers to Egypt, when they are reunited with Joseph.

“Dinah’s tragic life is a reminder that we may fall victim to cruel events far beyond our ability to control.” {Women—the Life and Times}

When circumstances occur beyond your control do you take matters into your hand or seek the Lord’s direction in the matter?

 

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