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Let thy words be few. Ecclesiastes 5:2

The Bible in fewer words

Episode 17: Shechem and Dinah

(Genesis 34)

34 1 After Jacob and his clan arrived in Canaan, Dinah went out to meet the women of the land.

2 While there, a man named Shechem, the son of Hamor and a prince of the country, had sex with her.

The rape of Dinah, Giuliano Bugiardini, 1535

3 Shechem loved Dinah. 4 He told his father, Hamor, that he wanted to marry her.

6 When Dinah's brothers heard about it, they were angry.

8-10 Hamor, met with Jacob and his sons, saying,

My son Shechem loves Dinah and wants to marry her. Please let them be married.

Let our daughters marry your sons and our sons marry your daughters, and we will all live in peace.

You will live and trade with us and share our land.

13-15 Jacob's sons said,

We can't let our sister marry an uncircumcised man.

But if every male in your city is circumcised, then we can intermarry and live in peace with you.

18 Hamor and Shechem liked the idea. 20 They spoke to the men of the city, saying,

21 These men are peaceful. Let them live in our land and trade with us.

We will marry their daughters, and they will marry ours.

22 There's just one little thing that we have to do: All of our males must get circumcised.

24 The men of the city agreed, and every male was circumcised.

The circumcision of the Shekemites

25 On the third day, while they were recovering from their circumcisions, two of Jacob's sons (Simeon and Levi) attacked and killed all the males.

26 They killed Hamor and Shechem, and took Dinah out of Shechem's house.

27-28 Then Jacob's sons spoiled the city, taking their animals and enslaving their wives and children.

Simeon and Levi slay Hamor and Shechem, The Phillip Medhurst Picture Torah

30 After the slaughter, Jacob said to his sons,

You have made me stink among the inhabitants of the land.

Now the Canaanites, who are much more numerous than us, will kill me.

31 Jacob's sons said, "Should our sister be treated like a harlot?"

Notes

Shechem and Dinah - Genesis 34

Lord, God of my forefather Simeon! You put a sword into his hand. Judith 9:2

Dinah, the daughter of Jacob, is "defiled" by a man who seems to love her dearly. Her brothers trick all of the men of the town and kill them (after first having them all circumcised), and then take their wives and children captive.

According to the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical book of Judith, God not only approved of the violence in Genesis 34, he gave Simeon the sword that he used to kill all the males in the city.

But there is one voice that is entirely missing from this story: Dinah's. Did she love Shechem? Did she want to marry him? Or did she want him killed? Was this a Romeo/Juliet-type story, with two young lovers willing to overlook their cultural and religious differences in order to be together? We'll ever know since it was of no interest to the biblical author.

By slaying Shechem, Dinah's brothers condemned her to a celibate life, since non-virgin women were not permitted to marry. (Deuteronomy 22:13-21)

Drunk with Blood: 5. The Dinah and Shechem massacre

Simeon and Levi killed all the males (34:27)
Jacob's sons killed all of the males of a city because "they" had defiled their sister. How did all of the baby boys and and every other (non-Shechem) male in the city "defile" their sister?
Should our sister be treated like a harlot? (34:31)

Dinah's brothers, to justify the massacre of a town for the rape of their sister, say: "Should he deal with our sister as with a harlot?"

To the author of Genesis, rape (or consentual premarital sex) is a crime against the honor of men rather than against a woman.