Most Disturbing… Dinah’s Voice Is Not Heard
One day Dinah, the daughter of Jacob and Leah, went to visit some of the young women who lived in the area. But when the local prince, Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, saw Dinah, he seized her and raped her. But then he fell in love with her, and he tried to win her affection with tender words. He said to his father, Hamor, “Get me this young girl. I want to marry her.”
Genesis 34:1-4 (NLT)
Shechem may have been a victim of “love at first sight,” but his actions were impulsive and evil. Not only did he sin against Dinah, he sinned against the entire family (Gen 34:6-7). The consequences of his deed were severe both for his family and for Jacob’s (Gen 34:25-31). Even Shechem’s declared love for Dinah could not excuse the evil he did by raping her.
Jacob heard that [Shechem] had defiled Dinah his daughter. Now his sons were with his livestock in the field. So Jacob held his peace until they came.
Genesis 34:5 (AMP)
The silence of Jacob when he heard the tragic news showed neither indifference nor cowardice on his part. Since his sons were in the field with the sheep and cattle and he could do nothing without their help, he was wise to wait.
Hamor, Shechem’s father, came to discuss the matter with Jacob. Meanwhile, Jacob’s sons had come in from the field as soon as they heard what had happened. They were shocked and furious that their sister had been raped. Shechem had done a disgraceful thing against Jacob’s family, something that should never be done.
Genesis 34:6-7 (NLT)
When they heard what had happened, they were very angry. The verb used to describe their emotion is the same as the word used to describe God’s grief when he sees what humanity has become, before the Flood (Genesis 6:6).
Hamor tried to speak with Jacob and his sons. “My son Shechem is truly in love with your daughter,” he said. “Please let him marry her. In fact, let’s arrange other marriages, too. You give us your daughters for our sons, and we will give you our daughters for your sons. And you may live among us; the land is open to you! Settle here and trade with us. And feel free to buy property in the area.”
Genesis 34:8-10 (NLT)
Hamor tries to pacify them by telling them his son loves Dinah, and wants to marry her. He speaks respectfully, and carefully includes the brothers in his discussion, making them a generous offer:
- Marriage links between the two families, and
- Full citizenship rights.
- He invites Jacob’s family to settle permanently in the region, acquire property and intermarry with his own people.
- He also offers the prospect of trade, with the same privileges given to Hittite merchants in foreign lands.
But he is in a difficult position, to say the least – trying to convince the father and brothers of a molested girl that the perpetrator will make a good husband.
Then Shechem himself spoke to Dinah’s father and brothers. “Please be kind to me, and let me marry her,” he begged. “I will give you whatever you ask. No matter what dowry or gift you demand, I will gladly pay it—just give me the girl as my wife.”
Genesis 34:11-12 (NLT)
Shechem was offering to buy Dinah. But worse than this in their eyes is the fact that he now seems to be offering to give them financial gain through the rape of their sister. Money can’t solve the problems that passion creates. This is a classic example of a father throwing money at the problem instead of doing what was right. It cost Hamor and Shechem, as well as all the men in their kingdom, their lives. There is no substitute for doing what is right.
But since Shechem had defiled their sister, Dinah, Jacob’s sons responded deceitfully to Shechem and his father, Hamor. They said to them, “We couldn’t possibly allow this, because you’re not circumcised. It would be a disgrace for our sister to marry a man like you! But here is a solution. If every man among you will be circumcised like we are, then we will give you our daughters, and we’ll take your daughters for ourselves. We will live among you and become one people. But if you don’t agree to be circumcised, we will take her and be on our way.”
Genesis 34:13-17 (NLT)
There is deep anger in the hearts of Dinah’s brothers, and they want justice, not compensation. They set out to deceive Shechem and his father.
They ask that Shechem and all the able-bodied men of in his territory, all the men capable of going out to fight in an emergency, be circumcised. They seem unaware or unconcerned that they are demeaning the Covenant, and the significance of circumcision. They say that if the men of the city will agree to circumcision they will agree to the marriage, and will go so far as to settle there.
Hamor and his son Shechem agreed to their proposal. Shechem wasted no time in acting on this request, for he wanted Jacob’s daughter desperately. Shechem was a highly respected member of his family, and he went with his father, Hamor, to present this proposal to the leaders at the town gate.
Genesis 34:18-20 (NLT)
Shechem agrees. He is the eldest son of his family, next in line to rule the city of Shechem, so all the men in the city agree to be circumcised. He does not have to explain the reason for this uncomfortable operation: the story is common knowledge.
“These men are our friends,” they said. “Let’s invite them to live here among us and trade freely. Look, the land is large enough to hold them. We can take their daughters as wives and let them marry ours. But they will consider staying here and becoming one people with us only if all of our men are circumcised, just as they are. But if we do this, all their livestock and possessions will eventually be ours. Come, let’s agree to their terms and let them settle here among us.”
Genesis 34:21-23 (NLT)
The Hivites regarded circumcision as a minor price for an alliance that would potentially increase their wealth and power.
So all the men in the town council agreed with Hamor and Shechem, and every male in the town was circumcised. But three days later, when their wounds were still sore, two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, who were Dinah’s full brothers, took their swords and entered the town without opposition. Then they slaughtered every male there, including Hamor and his son Shechem. They killed them with their swords, then took Dinah from Shechem’s house and returned to their camp.
Genesis 34:24-26 (NLT)
Why did Simeon and Levi take such harsh action against the city of Shechem?
Jacob’s family saw themselves as set apart from others. God wanted them to remain separate from their pagan neighbors. But the brothers wrongly thought that being set apart also meant being better. This arrogant attitude led to the terrible slaughter of innocent people.
Meanwhile, the rest of Jacob’s sons arrived. Finding the men slaughtered, they plundered the town because their sister had been defiled there. They seized all the flocks and herds and donkeys—everything they could lay their hands on, both inside the town and outside in the fields. They looted all their wealth and plundered their houses. They also took all their little children and wives and led them away as captives.
Genesis 34:27-29 (NLT)
When Shechem raped Dinah, the consequences were far greater than he could have imagined. Dinah’s brothers were outraged and took revenge. Pain, deceit, and murder followed. Don’t allow sexual passion to boil over into evil actions. Passion must be controlled. Sexual sin is devastating because its consequences are so far-reaching.
Afterward Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have ruined me! You’ve made me stink among all the people of this land—among all the Canaanites and Perizzites. We are so few that they will join forces and crush us. I will be ruined, and my entire household will be wiped out!”
“But why should we let him treat our sister like a prostitute?” they retorted angrily.
Genesis 34:30-31 (NLT)
In seeking revenge against Shechem, Simeon and Levi lied, stole, and murdered. Their desire for justice was right, but their ways of achieving it were wrong. Because of their sin, their father cursed them with his dying breath (Gen 49:5-7). Generations later, their descendants lost the part of the Promised Land allotted to them. When tempted to return evil for evil, leave revenge to God and spare yourself the dreadful consequences of sin.
Perhaps the most disturbing thing is that, through it all, Dinah’s voice is not heard.