A Daughter Defiled
Now Dinah, the daughter Leah had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the women of the land. When Shechem, son of Hamor the Hivite, the ruler of the area, saw her, he took her and raped her. His heart was drawn to Dinah, daughter of Jacob; he loved the young woman and spoke tenderly to her. And Shechem said to his father Hamor, “Get me this girl as my wife.”
For context, read all of Genesis 34
Once again we find ourselves reading an account of a woman in God’s Word that is difficult to read. I want to preface this by saying this: if you have ever been sexually abused, I am so sorry. Rape or abuse of any kind, was not then, is not now, and never will be God’s design for sex. What happened to you was wrong. Period. The story of Dinah and the stories of many other women of the Bible confirm that God never condones this sin.
Dinah was a daughter of Jacob and Leah. Their only daughter that is mentioned by name in Scripture. She went out to a nearby city to visit the foreign women. When she got there, however, she was taken by force and raped by the prince. After he had violated her, he “spoke tenderly to her.” Then, it says that Shechem wanted to marry her so he demanded his father get her for him as his wife.
Notice who was not consulted? Dinah. Shechem behaved the way many men in ancient cultures (and still today), behave when it comes to women. They see, they want, they take without regard for God’s commands concerning sex and without regard for the woman they are taking advantage of. He took what he wanted first and asked later.
While Dinah’s reaction and feelings toward Shechem are not recorded, the rest of this account clearly communicates that Scripture deems Dinah’s rape unacceptable. It says that she was “defiled” in verse 5 and that the men in her family were “grieved” and “angry” in verse 7 because “he had done a disgraceful thing…for such a thing ought not to be done.”
When Shechem’s father approaches her family about a marriage that unites their two peoples, her brothers respond deceitfully while they hatch a plan of revenge. They agree to the marriage on the condition that all of the men among them be circumcised. They misused a covenant of God so they could avenge the crime committed against their sister. When all of the men in the city had been circumcised and were still in pain, Dinah’s brothers, Simeon and Levi, attacked and slaughtered every male in the city and plundered it.
In response, Jacob is angry with his sons because he expected retaliation from the other inhabitants of the land. The brothers’ desire for justice to be served was not wrong. The sin was that their execution of that justice went well above and beyond what is just. Shechem alone deserved punishment, not the entire city.
Sisters, the WORD about women in the story of Dinah is God never intended for us to be taken advantage of or abused by men. Rape is clearly condemned as disgraceful and wrong in His Word. If you have ever been abused in such a way, I encourage you to seek godly counsel to help you heal. Take heart, God sees and God cares.
Can you think of other stories in Scripture that affirm God’s disapproval of men committing rape or forcefully taking women to be their wives?
PrayLord, thank You for being a God of justice. You see when I have been wronged and You care. Help me to rest in the fact that You will judge rightly and that vengeance belongs to You. Amen.