Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Genesis 34:1-5 comments: the rape of Dinah

1 ¶  And Dinah the daughter of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land. 2  And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her. 3  And his soul clave unto Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the damsel, and spake kindly unto the damsel. 4  And Shechem spake unto his father Hamor, saying, Get me this damsel to wife. 5  And Jacob heard that he had defiled Dinah his daughter: now his sons were with his cattle in the field: and Jacob held his peace until they were come.

What happens next is not Dinah’s fault any more than your car being stolen from its parking space because you left it unlocked is your fault. Sin is the fault of the person who commits the sin. The offence has come through the thief. However, living carelessly has its punishments. Here, we learn something about what Paul speaks of in Titus 2:5, a woman being discrete and keeping at home. Dinah was rather unlike her male ancestors who acted quite cautiously and were very worried about even the possible intentions of those around them. She ventured out to see the daughters of the land and was raped by Shechem, the son of that territory’s ruler. Notice the phrasing, saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her. There is no hint here of a consensual act.

First, prince means a ruler and a judge. Notice the synonyms joined by and in the following verses.

Exodus 2:14  And he said, Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian? And Moses feared, and said, Surely this thing is known.

Ac 7:35  This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush.

The words king and prince denote ruler and final authority in judgment over a people, a chieftain by today’s standards in more primitive cultures.

Proverbs 14:28  In the multitude of people is the king’s honour: but in the want of people is the destruction of the prince.

Dinah, apparently being without any strong protection, was obviously raped. Remember that Abraham and Isaac both had fear that the ruler of the land in which they sought a place to live temporarily would kill them so that ruler could easily take their wives. God did not prevent this from happening as he did prevent the women’s defilement in those former cases.

Apparently, the ancient world in this area, was a very dangerous place for women who did not have the men of their family to protect them, as much of it is today, in the Middle East. God will eventually give a law that protects women in these circumstances but in their relation to the group, the Hebrews. But, when we get to the Law given to Moses we must understand that those Laws are the civil and religious ordinances for the Hebrew people separating them from the people around them, and do not go far enough for the Christian as Christ and Paul lay out the spirit of those Laws rather than the carnal letter which dealt with the flesh itself. The Law given to Moses was more about the integrity and character of the group than the character and integrity of the individual as God was separating a people of a particular ethnicity unto Him rather than a person who had no abiding nation on earth necessarily.

Shechem’s heart was smitten by Dinah, though, and he felt tenderness toward her after his violence rather than the contempt, for instance, that Amnon felt for Tamar in 2Samuel 13 after he raped her. He petitioned his father to ask for her in marriage. Jacob knew what had happened but, in his position of being a guest, a stranger in their land, exercised restraint, waiting for his sons to come in from the field. His position was not good. The rape of Dinah will be felt as a wrong committed against the family, the group, more importantly than against Dinah, as an individual. This is clearly a different sort of attitude than the Christian feels, as all sin is against God and against the person, and government is established to punish those who do evil. In fact, if you read Romans 13 it is one of the only justifications for human government.

Dinah may have had the opportunity to visit the daughters of the land. She may have even had the right to do so. But, it was not a very smart thing to do, not thinking through the situation without protection. She is not to blame here for the crime as you own your sin. But she was not wise. Still, God allowed this to happen to set in motion something revealing to us. I remember in college when there was a campus rapist in operation many of the young men trying to convince the young women that although they had the right to go on their own across campus at night to the library it was not smart to do so without an escort. This, of course, offended the modern feminist, whose rights the rapist predator could not have cared about in the least.

It is a callous error, though, of modern fundamentalism to insist that men cannot control themselves and that if a man acts wrongly out of lust it is a woman’s fault. As I said earlier, regardless of how you want to cut it, you own your own sin. Don’t put it off on the employer who leaves money to tempt you, the girl who passes by you wearing too revealing clothing, or the person who runs into a store leaving the keys in his car. Take responsibility. Child molesters will even blame a child for enticing them. This is a wicked thought pattern, of course.

We will learn here another principle of the Bible. One crime does not blot out another. God allowed this to happen to reveal something, to show us the character and nature of the patriarchs of the Hebrew people. In this, they are going to be shown as very much like the people around them, from whom God is drawing them out. Paul writes in Romans 15 that these things were written about for our learning. So, learn.

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