34 Now Dinah, the daughter Leah had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the women of the land. 2 When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, the ruler of that area, saw her, he took her and raped her. 3 His heart was drawn to Dinah daughter of Jacob; he loved the young woman and spoke tenderly to her. 4 And Shechem said to his father Hamor, “Get me this girl as my wife.”
5 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.
6 Then Shechem’s father Hamor went out to talk with Jacob. 7 Meanwhile, Jacob’s sons had 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.
8 But Hamor said to them, “My son Shechem has his heart set on your daughter. Please give her to him as his wife. 9 Intermarry with us; give us your daughters and take our daughters for yourselves. 10 You can settle among us; the land is open to you. Live in it, trade in it, and acquire property in it.”
11 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.”
13 Because their sister Dinah had been defiled, Jacob’s sons replied deceitfully as they spoke to Shechem and his father Hamor. 14 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. 15 We will enter into an agreement with you on one condition only: that you become like us by circumcising all your males. 16 Then we will give you our daughters and take your daughters for ourselves. We’ll settle among you and become one people with you. 17 But if you will not agree to be circumcised, we’ll take our sister and go.”
(Genesis 34:1-17 NIV)
As we finished Chapter 33, we recalled that God had told Jacob to go back to Bethel, the place where Jacob had made his vow to follow God (Genesis 31:13). Jacob has a one-on-one encounter with God and receives a new name, but he is still Jacob on the inside. Jacob gets as far as Shechem, then stops, buys a piece of land, and settles down.
As we begin Chapter 34 today, we see the consequences of Jacob’s choices.
Jacob’s daughter Dinah goes out to meet some local women alone. There is no mention of Dinah’s mother Leah, or a servant girl, or one of her brothers tagging along – she is on her own.
The prince, the son of the area ruler, sees Dinah, likes what he sees, so he takes her by force and rapes her. After the prince forces himself on her, he decides he likes her and wants to marry her.
When the prince approaches his father about marrying Dinah, he does not even say her name – he demands, “Get me this girl as my wife.” Did he know her name? Did he care?
Somehow, Jacob finds out that Dinah had been raped, but does nothing. He does not send for his sons, nor does he seem to show any emotion about this travesty.
While the ruler and his son were on the way to speak to Jacob about Dinah marrying the ruler’s son, Jacob’s sons find out and come in from the field to join the meeting. Jacob’s sons are both shocked and furious over what has happened to their sister.
Let’s stop here for a moment and see the cultural differences between the way Jacob’s family treated women and the way the local ruler and his family treated women. While life may not have been ideal for the women of Jacob’s household, there was an overall cultural norm that women were treated with respect. There were healthy boundaries around women, especially in the area of sexuality. Women were not property, to be used up and cast aside. They were not simply objects of desire or passion, used to satisfy men. The local ruler and his son, however, did not hold to this same moral code, and saw women as property, as objects to satisfy their fleshly desires.
When the ruler approached Jacob and his sons, there was no remorse or guilt over the ruler’s son violating Dinah – only a request for her hand in marriage, and an offer to settle in the land and intermarry. The ruler’s son was smitten, and offered anything so he could marry “the young woman” (again, not even calling her by name).
Unfortunately, Jacob and his sons do not address the problem at hand – Dinah’s rape. Instead, they answer deceitfully and focus on the external religious difference of circumcision, rather than the matter of the heart, and of the largest difference, the gods they worship.
When we disobey the Lord, nothing good comes out of it, and it affects others beside ourselves.
May we seek to honor and obey the Lord in all we do.
May we heed Jesus’ advice as we go out in the world, not in fear, but in wisdom:
“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”
(Matthew 10:16 NIV)
Paul’s advice is well-taken, also:
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
(Ephesians 5:15-16 NIV)