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The Rape of Dinah

Stories like Dinah's in Genesis 34 or Tamar's in 2nd Samuel 13, are becoming more and more common among girls in this country alone. Whether rape is committed by a stranger, friend, relative or even husband, rape is on the rise. God never pulls any punches when addressing sin and issues of real life in the Bible. We wouldn't learn if He did. Teaching children about every day dangers wouldn't be successful if those dangers were sugar coated. It also gives people something to relate to and learn from when they've suffered or when they've sinned. As much as God loved Moses, Jacob, Abraham and all the others, he wanted us to see them as the imperfect humans they were with warts and all because that, in itself, gives us something to relate to and learn from.

(Genesis 34) Dinah was the daughter of Jacob and Leah. When Jacob found good pasture for his flocks, he settled his family in Shechem, the land of Canaan, within sight of the city itself after working out a deal to buy the plot of land from the King. Once Jacob settled his family there Dinah wandered away to take in the sights of the new place and get to know the foreign women she'd be living along side. It sure wasn't a usual practice to allow young women to wander, but considering the size of Jacob's family and all the activity with his flocks, servants and daily life, it would be easy for a young, curious girl to sneak away unnoticed.

While out, she was spotted by the King's son, Shechem. Selfishly, without wasting any time, Shechem took Dinah and raped her (verse 2). We're told Shechem fell in love with her after his brutal attack and "spoke tenderly to her" (verse 3). That seems odd at first, but when one considers how selfish this prince was and sociopathic, it makes sense. He didn't see what he did as wrong. He saw it as his right and thought he was doing right by her by being nice to her afterwards. She should, in fact, feel fortunate to have gotten the attention of the next King of Shechem.

Afterwards he tells Hamor, his father, to get Dinah as his wife. Which means, work out a deal with her father. (verse 4) He obviously assumed Jacob would be alright with this arrangement. Afterall his daughter would be queen eventually. He also underestimated Dinah's older brothers.

When Jacob learned about his daughter being raped, he did nothing at first. His sons were in the fields with the livestock so Jacob waited for them to return. This could be for safety reasons. They were living in a foreign land and basically surrounded. In the meantime though, Hamor went to Jacob to work out a marriage between Dinah and his son. As Hamor was speaking to Jacob, his sons returned. They'd gotten word of the rape and went home as quickly as they could (verse 7).

Their reaction was completely understandable. Verse 7 says they were shocked and furious. They probably surrounded the King and his son, there was probably a lot of yelling, threats, answers being demanded. Hamor tried to reason with them by explaining Shechem wanted to marry Dinah (verse 8). As if to say "He shouldn't have raped her, but look...he wants to marry her. She's already defiled anyway so there won't be any hopefuls later. Just let them marry."

This is malicious behavior. Hamor and his son obviously weren't getting the viciousness or the trauma Shechem had caused. This only enraged Dinah's brother more. Hamor then explains Jacob's sons could intermarry with the women of Shechem, they could take all the land they liked, acquire property and trade in the land. Hamor was treating Dinah like a piece of property (verse 9).

It appears Hamor's offer wasn't winning any favor with Jacob and his sons. He then offers to pay for Dinah...any price as long as he gets Dinah for his spoiled, selfish, sociopathic son (verse 12). Nothing like a good enabler! At this point, I think Jacob's sons realized there was just no reasoning with Hamor. He just wasn't going to get what his son had done. So they change up tactics and deceive the King.

Verse 14 says they told Hamor they could only give Dinah to Shechem if all the men of the city were circumcised as they were (verse 16). If they do agree to that then Jacob's sons will allow Dinah to marry Shechem. The King and his son agreed and lost no time in being circumcised and ordering all the males in the land to be as well. Three days later after being circumcised, while all the men were in a lot of pain, Jacob's sons attacked the city and killed every male there including the King and his son Shechem. They then looted the city and took everything of value, including flocks, herd, women and children.

I certainly understand their rage over the rape of their sister. Who could blame them for that? But when it was all said and done, Jacob could only think about himself by being upset with his sons for making him look "obnoxious" (verse 30) and for bringing potential trouble on them.

The men did go overboard in their revenge. Shechem did deserve to be punished for what he'd done, but killing every male was punishing them for something they had nothing to do with. They may not have been Hebrew, they may not have lived under the same Abrahamic covenant as Jacob and his family, but they were still human beings, still innocent of the crime and God is righteous with all people, not just those who have a covenant with Him.

As Patriarch of the family, Jacob failed to deal with the situation at all let alone properly. Jacob didn't take any action for his daughter, which could have been what spurned his sons on their revenge. He also failed in not keeping his boys in line. These same sons also sold their brother Joseph into slavery and deceived Jacob into thinking Joseph was dead. When parents don't reign in their kids and teach them properly, it not only brings shame and grief to the parents later, it brings grief to society in general as we learn so vividly through King David. The revenge they took was overkill for the crime. When Jacob confronted them about it, they're excuse was...
“Should he have treated our sister like a prostitute?”(verse 31)

As I stated earlier, in America alone there are way too many women who can relate to Dinah's story. They've suffered with this crime too. They know what it's like to be shunned by others, treated with disregard by those close to them, even blamed for the crime themselves, as many early Bible scholars did with Dinah. Like Dinah, they're the victim, but often treated like the victimizer. It's tragic and there's no excuse for it. Despite man's imperfections and sins, God is still just and merciful. He understands and is compassionate while many...even family, are not.

Romans 12:19 "Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord."

In a situation like this, revenge seems justified or our courts may not deal with it as we see fit. No one can fault anyone for wanting to take things into their own hands, but more often than not, when we do, others suffer too who had nothing to do with the crime. We can eventually forgive, but we never forget. Even if they do escape here the harsh punishment we want them to have, there is still one more Judge they have to face. Not only do they pay in the next life, but a man reaps what he sows in this life too. If you've been the victim of a rape and have never told anyone, like many women, God already knows. He knows how you feel, the trauma of it and the implications later of it. He also knows your rapist and they won't escape.

You may even blame God for the crime, but God doesn't approve of any crime or sin. He never wills them to happen. He never condones evil under any circumstances. The fault lies only with man. Unfortunately man is sinful and full of evil and as the host of sin (man) increased on the earth, so did evil and it makes everyone a victim in one way or another and perpetrator as well in one way or another.
Disclaimer: I do not condone the teaching of men by women nor am I trying to exercise authority over men by using this blog as a method of teaching men. All posts are for the edification of women. For more on what I believe concerning this issue please see: Women - No Dominion Over Men
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