Genesis 34: The Rape of Dinah and the Annihilation of Shechem

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Hebrew-English Text

I. Summary

Shechem, a Hivvite prince from the town of Shechem, rapes Dinah and desires to marry her. Jacob’s sons agree on the condition that the men of Shechem circumcise themselves. The men of Shechem agree, and Simeon and Levi kill them as they heal. Jacob disagrees with Simeon and Levi whether this was a proper course of action.

II. Photo

Dinah ventures off on her own: “Now Dinah, the daughter whom Leah had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the daughters of the land.” (v. 1)

III. Select Verses

1-4: Now Dinah, the daughter whom Leah had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the daughters of the land. Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, chief of the country, saw her, and took her and lay with her by force. Being strongly drawn to Dinah daughter of Jacob, and in love with the maiden, he spoke to the maiden tenderly. So Shechem said to his father Hamor, “Get me this girl as a wife.”

8-12: And Hamor spoke with them, saying, “My son Shechem longs for your daughter. Please give her to him in marriage. Intermarry with us: give your daughters to us, and take our daughters for yourselves:

You will dwell among us, and the land will be open before you; settle, move about, and acquire holdings in it.” Then Shechem said to her father and brothers, “Do me this favor, and I will pay whatever you tell me. Ask of me a bride-price ever so high, as well as gifts, and I will pay what you tell me; only give me the maiden for a wife.”

25-29: On the third day, when they were in pain, Simeon and Levi, two of Jacob’s sons, brothers of Dinah, took each his sword, came upon the city unmolested, and slew all the males.  They put Hamor and his son Shechem to the sword, took Dinah out of Shechem’s house, and went away. The other sons of Jacob came upon the slain and plundered the town, because their sister had been defiled. They seized their flocks and herds and asses, all that was inside the town and outside;  all their wealth, all their children, and their wives, all that was in the houses, they took as captives and booty.

30-31: Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought trouble on me, making me odious among the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites and the Perizzites; my men are few in number, so that if they unite against me and attack me, I and my house will be destroyed.” But they answered, “Should our sister be treated like a whore?”

IV. Outline

1. Dinah leaves her home to see the girls of the land

2. Shechem son of Hamor rapes Dinah

3-4. Shechem loves Dinah and asks his father to marry her

5-7. Hamor approaches Jacob and Jacob’s sons are furious

8-10. Hamor asks for Dinah for Shechem and for Jacob’s family to intermarry and settle in the land

11-12. Shechem offers to pay any cost to marry Dinah

13-17. Jacobs sons answer in trickery: all of Hamor’s people must be circumcised

18-19. Hamor and Shechem eagerly agree

20-24. Hamor and Shechem convince the men of Shechem to get circumcisions

25-26. Three days later, Dinah’s full brothers Simeon and Levi kill the men of Shechem and take Dinah home

27-29. Jacob’s other sons plunder the town

30. Jacob scolds Simeon and Levi for putting the entire family in danger

31. Simeon and Levi reply: ““Should our sister be treated like a whore?””

V. Comment

As in chapter 28 and the beginning of chapter 29, Jacob’s journey begins on a high note (Genesis 33:18-20). Like chapter 29, where Jacob was tricked into working a number of years, Jacob’s fortunes quickly take a turn for the worse with the horrific rape of his daughter Dinah and the subsequent slaughter of the men of Shechem. There is a great deal of friction, if not comeuppance, in the way that Yahweh shows his favor to Jacob. Jacob’s sons all become wealthy by pillaging Shechem, but their wealth comes at a cost. As Jacob points out in verse 30,  “You have brought trouble on me, making me odious among the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites and the Perizzites; my men are few in number, so that if they unite against me and attack me, I and my house will be destroyed.”

Also, notice that throughout the chapter, daughters are used as a bargaining chip for peace. Hamor offers to exchange daughters with Jacob (v. 9), Jacobs sons conditionally agree to exhchange daughters with the people of Shechem (vv. 15-16), and Hamor and Shechem convince the townspeople to exchange their daughters with Jacob (v. 21). Interestingly, even though Dinah returns home, Jacob’s sons end up with the Shechemite daughters and wives in the end (v. 29).

VI. Works Used

(see “Commentaries” page)

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https://www.theodysseyonline.com/open-letter-the-girl-who-cant-walk-away

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