Categories: Jacob, Women in the Old Testament
- Dinah is the seventh child and only daughter of Jacob and Leah.
- There is a one line birth announcement in Genesis 30:21.
- Some speculate that Dinah and Zebulun are twins, but there is nothing in the text to substantiate this.
- Dinah is named almost as an after-thought, and no explanation is given for her name.
- After her birth announcement, she is not mentioned until Genesis 34.
- Gen 32:22 states that Jacob “took his two wives, his two maidservants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok.”
- There is no mention of Dinah – just “eleven sons.”
- Perhaps she is included in the next verse that states, “After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions.”
- After meeting with Esau, Jacob goes to Succoth and arrives at the city of Shechem.
- After they have been there for a while, “Dinah…went out to visit the women of the land.”
- The Hebrew word for “went out” is the same one used to describe Leah’s action at the time when her son brought her the mandrakes (see Genesis 30:14ff).
- Leah gave the mandrakes to Rachel and “went out” to meet Jacob as he came in from the fields.
- Hence, some scholars suggest that when Dinah ”went out,” she went out to be “seen.”
- Indeed, she is “seen” by someone.
- “Shechem, son of Hamor the Hivite, the ruler of that area, sees her.”
- The Bible states that Shechem “sees her, takes her, and rapes her.”
- In recent years, feminists have identified this story as a paradigm for a classic rape situation: a woman goes out, innocently enough. She is raped, and nothing more is said about her.
- However, a lot depends on how the words are translated, and even a cursory examination reveals that there is no solid consensus.
- There is no word in Hebrew for rape. Rape is generally defined as “forcible, aggressive sexual intercourse with a woman against her will.”
- Within the space of two verses, there are a total of seven verbs that have Shechem as the subject and Dinah as the object.
- He sees her; he takes her, lies with her, and does something to her that is represented by the letters ‘nh in the Piel form in Hebrew.
- (The Piel form is generally used for intensification of a verb.)
- But in the next verse he bonds to her with his whole being, loves her, and speaks kindly to her heart.
- The word in question, then, comes right in the middle of seven verbs relating to Shechem’s actions with Dinah.
- Everything hinges on how ‘nh (inna) in the Piel form is defined.
- Some scholars argue that when that word follows the verb “to lie with her,” it indicates a violent sexual act.
- But other scholars disagree. They point out that when inna is in the simple active state, or the Qal form, it means to “put down,” or “to humble.”
- The Piel form is generally used for intensification of a verb.
- One of its meanings in the Piel is to “humiliate intensely,” intensifying the verb “to humble.”
- There is no sense of violence with the word “humiliate,” but this is a word that one might associate with the act of shaming.
- By lying with Dinah, Shechem essentially removed her from her family, thereby bringing shame upon them.
- Women in group-oriented societies have significant power and value, primarily because they are the producers of the children who guarantee the existence of the group from one generation to another.
- It stands to reason then that sexual issues and fertility will be carefully defined. And more often than not, it is the men who do the defining.
- The group has two main goals: keep the group pure, i.e. keep outsiders out; avoid the loss of power through participants leaving the group.
- Violation of these goals results in shaming and diminishment of the group. This threatens the stability and longevity of the group. To maintain its honor, the group will have to respond in some fashion.
- Returning to the verbs, it states that Shechem loved Dinah “with all his being, bonded with her and spoke to her heart.”
- The word for “bonded” is really “cleave.” It is what God directed for the love between a husband and a wife in Genesis 2:24.
- It also says that Shechem “loves” Dinah, using the same word that Isaac feels for Rebekah after they are married; the same word that Jacob feels for Rachel (but not Leah); the same word that Jacob feels for Joseph and Benjamin.
- Likewise, the idiom, “speaks to her heart” is used in unequal relationships where the one in a superior position lovingly reassures her that their insecure situation will be rectified. It is to make a commitment to her.
- Some scholars suggest the order of the verbs show intensification. The verbs get stronger and stronger, thereby conveying Shechem’s growing commitment and Dinah’s very positive response.
- Indeed, Dinah stays with Shechem pending the outcome of the negotiations.
- Yet this doesn’t sanction Shechem’s actions.
- The love and commitment is supposed to come before he “takes and lies with her.”
- For that, Dinah needs the approval of her father.
- Indeed, Shechem wastes no time in trying to make amends with Dinah’s family. He demands to his father, “Get me this girl as my wife.”
- His love for her impels him to seek restitution for the wrong he has done to her. He wants to make it right.
- Unfortunately, Dinah’s brothers intervene and wipe out the whole town.
- That is the last we hear of Dinah, but legends have evolved.
- One is that she is the wife of Job.
- Another is that she, too, is sent to Egypt where Potiphera adopts her. She is the mother of Asenath, the wife of Joseph, which maintains the purity of Joseph’s heritage.
- The fact is, however, throughout this entire story, the biblical author never records a single word Dinah said about the matter.