Welcome back to our 2nd installment of Dinah’s story from Genesis 34. Go back and “Meet Dinah” if you have not caught her backstory.
Let’s understand a little more about where Dinah was in her stage of life. Genesis 34:1 says she went out to meet “young women.” After she is seen and taken by Shechem, the Bible refers to her as a “young girl.” Perhaps the young reference is only to age, perhaps it is to her innocence in not having known a man, or perhaps it references an age prior to being of “marriageable” age. Regardless, it is clear Dinah is in the early young girl stages of her life, and this incident of rape unfortunately became her legacy in terms of the scriptures. (We do not learn more about most of the end of her life story.)
Our innocence can keep us unaware of the evil around us.
As learn about this man Shechem, we saw his family origin and history. Let’s look closer at his decisions and intentions with Dinah. He did act on impulse, taking what he wanted when he wanted it. He is not a man who practices discipline or patience, or withholds anything good from himself that his eye sees.
Immediate gratification is rarely a good thing.
This is a dangerous habit for any of us. To give in and yield any time we “want” breeds immediate gratification and impulse decisions. God clearly instructs us to take our “minds captive to Jesus Christ” and to “be patient,” “not gratifying the lusts of the flesh.” It’s reasonable to say that Shechem had been in the habit of acting on quick impulse decisions.
Genesis 34:3 says “he became infatuated with Dinah.” Whether that was good news for Dinah or not, she still found herself in a situation in which she had no choice or control. Should the young girl think, “Well, who cares that this man took and raped me, at least he loves me now.” What did this young girl have to compare this experience to? What meaningful experience could she draw from for wisdom and guidance in this new forced relationship?
We remember again, Dinah is not said to have any sisters, and her mother and aunt fought over her father regularly. Dinah found herself presented with a relationship she did not ask for. Does this sound familiar? Dinah’s mother Leah’s wedding story rings with similar tone.
Sexual ambush: from Leah’s deception to Dinah’s assault.
Jacob, Dinah’s father, had seen and fallen in love with Rachel (Dinah’s aunt, Leah’s little sister). After working 7 years for Rachel’s hand in marriage, Jacob was tricked and woke up the morning after his wedding to discover he had been with Leah. We are told more clearly Jacob’s side of the story, so one must wonder what is gong through Leah’s head the whole time.
Leah, the older less attractive sister, had to be married first. As she is sent covered into Jacob’s tent on his wedding night, did she take responsibility in taking advantage of him? Did she think she could earn and hold his love by secretly seducing him and pretending to be someone else? Leah may have had her own reasons, along with her father, and culture’s tradition of eldest married first, but you can’t help but see the snare Leah set for Jacob in this act of sexual trickery. What then went through Leah’s mind when she discovered her own daughter was taken and forced into the marriage plans of Shechem.
One-sided consent: “Give me this husband / wife.”
Genesis 34:4 says, “Get me this girl as a wife,” Shechem told his father Hamor. (Did Leah once say, ‘Get me this man as my husband’?) Shechem had the cart before the horse this time however, having already taken Dinah and forced himself on her. The Bible indicates from rape, he became infatuated, then loved the young girl, spoke tenderly to her and ultimately demanded his request to marry her as his wife.
Before we leave this young girl today, can we assume her circumstances were more tolerable because he loved her? Was she lost in the midst of shattered innocence, confusion, broken trust and ability to survive? What were Dinah’s options now – resist? rebel? run? Or would she have better survival odds if she relaxed, retreated and remained?
Survival during sexual assault: what tools do you have left?
Would she continue to cause the man to rape her forcibly, or could she maintain some dignity and control by bargaining with her conscience and walk the fine line of toleration and cooperation? After resigning to her circumstances, what in her behavior allowed him to speak tenderly to her? (vs 3)
The same tender speaking man a verse later speaks firmly to Hamor – a son telling his father what to do – “get me this girl.” Shechem has demanded his father arrange all of the cultural permissions to publicly declare Dinah as his own. And so the dads are left to speak about this arrangement.
The Bible does not speak of Dinah’s feelings, desires or wishes in the matter any longer. In fact ever since the moment she is taken, the scriptures speak of her only passively, as things happened *to her. She herself does not appear to take any action or steps or speaking out in the remainder of her story. Her name is never again used as the subject of a sentence; she has become the object of the verb.
Don’t let one evil decision delete your voice from speaking victory over evil.
Dinah used to be a young girl who made decisions and had a voice. She went out to see the young women (vs 1). Sadly our young girl Dinah lost her voice and her place as the subject in God’s story for her after this man took what was not his.
In the end, WE WIN. There is victory over evil!
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