Genesis 34:1-31 “Dinah Defiled, Part 2”

Posted on April 1, 2012. Filed under: Genesis: Answers to Life's Crucial Questions |

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Bryan E. Walker

Read Genesis 34




Introduction: Today we begin looking at this difficult passage which will bring up some very hard subjects. We will likely just cover the first 7 verses, and then after our break for Easter, we will come back to finish the passage. In these verses we will look at the rape of Dinah and discuss Jacob’s lack of reaction and then touch on her brothers’ reaction as well as the reaction by Hamor. We will ask the hard questions about whether Dinah shares any blame for the situation and whether her father Jacob was negligent.


The gospel point that I want to make is that we should not remain silent when a great injustice occurs. There are times when our rights are violated that we SHOULD exercise our rights and seek justice. Part of the gospel message is that sin is sin and will be brought to justice. We can both stand for our rights against evil and point to the ultimate solution to evil in the gospel.


  1. I.                   Dinah is Defiled, vss.1-4
    1. A.     Dinah Went Out to See the Canaanite Women, v.1
      1. 1.      Dinah the daughter of Leah- Dinah has not been mentioned since 30:21 and is mentioned here only as the source of the cause of the controversy with Shechem and to illustrate the family division that will culminate in the stories of Joseph. Dinah’s story also places her in a similar situation to Rebekah and Sarah.
      2. 2.      whom she had borne to Jacob- throughout this scene the relationships of the main actors are stressed by Moses. Shechem and Hamor are shown to be united as father and son, but Dinah, though Jacob’s only daughter we know of, is neglected by her distant father. Her brothers act in her defense while Jacob seems apathetic and clueless.
      3. 3.      went out to see the women of the land- yasa –went out-this indicates that Dinah went out un-escorted, she was on her own. It has a sexual connotation here and in 30:16, when Leah had purchased a night with Jacob by her son’s mandrakes and “went out” to meet him saying, “You must come in to me…” Wenham,p.310, points out that the Akkadian verb that matches this verb, went out, “describes a housewife who conducts herself improperly outside her home and the targums translate ‘cult prostitute’ as ‘one who goes out in the countryside’”. Going out sounds normal for us in 21st century America, but it is highly irregular for Middle East culture then and now. Waltke, p.461, writes, “This is an improper and imprudent act….Rebekah and Rachel going to a well owned by the clan is quite different from going out unchaperoned among the Canaanites. Jacob has not modeled appropriate distancing from the Canaanites…and possibly has influenced Dinah’s inappropriate friendliness with them. It is his responsibility to see that she is chaperoned.”
      4. 4.      Mathews, p.579, writes, “No one escapes the author’s ambivalence toward the participants in this gloomy account, not even Dinah. Did her hubris or curiosity or sensuality compromise her virtue when she ‘went out to visit the women of the land’ (v.1)”
      5. 5.      Mathews continues, p.590- “Jewish interpretation charged Dinah with prostitution, blaming her for the incident…”
      6. 6.      Calvin, p.218, “For it is not to be doubted that Moses in part casts the blame of the offence upon Dinah herself, when he says, ‘she went out to see the daughters of the land;’ whereas she ought to have remained under her mother’s eyes in the tent.”
      7. 7.      the women of the land- the Canaanite women were repulsive to Abraham who sent his servant back toHaran to find a wife for Isaac. Likewise, Rebekah loathed the Hittite women in 27:46 “If Jacob marries one of the Hittite women like these, one of the women of the land, what good will my life be to me?” And Esau’s choice of wives disappointed Isaac and Rebekah in 26:34f and 28:6-9.
      8. 8.      Apply- the preaching point for Moses to his people would be to not intermarry with the Canaanites or Moabites and would be related to Numbers 25 and how the men ofIsrael began to have relations with the daughters ofMoab and worship false gods with them. In one dramatic act, Phinehas, grandson of Aaron and a priest, speared an Israelite and a Moabite woman in the act, killing them both.
      9. 9.      Apply- Moses offers an understated rebuke of Dinah in this. She is portrayed as going out on her own, which led to some horrible consequences. This is several notches below blaming her for her own rape, Moses is not doing that, but he is showing how she put herself in danger. Along with that Moses is clearly showing how Dinah’s father, Jacob failed throughout these events. He failed his daughter. I have seen the results in women’s lives who did not have a good relationship with their father. When girls are neglected by their dads, or worse, abused, it all too often leads to bad decisions by the girls as teenagers, such as in Dinah’s case.
      10. 10.  Apply- Fathers and mothers ought to give good examples and instruction to their daughters in regards to how to dress and how to properly socialize with boys. We desperately need to instruct our children in how to stand firm in the world of pagans and avoiding acting like the world or joining in with the world in its deeds and attitudes. As our culture loses its Christian roots and becomes more and more pagan this job is tougher today than when I was young. The American ritual of dating is designed to fail but arranged marriages are a gross violation of individual liberty. Courtship, which involves two families, a church, and guards individual liberty should be developed and practiced.
    2. B.     Shechem Rapes Dinah, v.2
      1. 1.      Shechem…the prince of the land- son of Hamor, the ruler of Shechem, this young man clearly had his father’s ear, in v.19 “He was the most honored of all his father’s house”, and in v. 24 all the men of the city listened to Hamor and Shechem, indicating respect.
      2. 2.      Hamor the Hivite- the Hivites were descendants of Ham throughCanaan, Gen.10:15-20, and occupied parts ofCanaan. They are not, however, mentioned in Gen. 15:18-20 by God when He lists the nations in the Promised Land which he was giving to Abraham. Hivites are mentioned in 36:2 as one of Esau’s wives, and then in Ex.23:23; 34:11; Deut. 7:1-3 (where intermarriage with them is forbidden and the Israelites are commanded to completely destroy them); and in Joshua3:10 which says the Lord will drive them out beforeIsrael.
      3. 3.      Apply- by bringing up this episode with the Hivites of Shechem, Moses is clearly warning his people of the nature of the people they will soon be at war with and whom they shall displace in Canaan by God’s will.
      4. 4.      saw…seized…lay…humiliated– vss.1-2 point us back to ch.6:1-2 where the sons of God “saw” the “daughters” of men and “took” them as their wives. Here we have Dinah visiting the “daughters”  or “women” of the land and then Shechem “saw” and “took” her. Wenham says, p.311, that the construction is actually “laid her” rather than “lay with her” and this indicates forcible rape and “shamed her” (humiliated her) “is another term always used to describe intercourse without marriage (e.g., Deut.21:14;22:29; 2Sam13:12). The duplication of very negative terms shows the author’s strong disapproval of Shechem’s behavior. Had the law of Deut. 22:28-29 been applicable, Shechem would have been compelled to marry Dinah and pay 50 shekels, an unusually large marriage present, to her father.” The idea here is that this was rape, not seduction, despite whatever provocative things Dinah may have done.
      5. 5.      Apply– identifying Dinah’s behavior as bad is not the same as blaming the victim. In today’s muslim world, if a woman is raped, she is the one at fault and executed, frequently by her own father or brothers. In this scene we see Dinah’s brothers defending her. Are you familiar with the idea of muslim “honor killings” that is going on today? Here is a link to Pamela Geller’s website that gives some important information about honor killings. CAUTION: it can be gruesome:
      6. 6.
      7. 7.      InAmerica there is a rape about every 2 minutes, 213,000 sexual assaults a year. 54% of sexual assaults are never even reported to the police and 97% of rapists never go to jail. About 2/3 of all sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows.
      8. 8.
      9. 9.      The FBI statistics for violent crime which includes rape, show a distinct trend downward in recent years, from 2006-2010:


  1. 10.  Tell the story of the girl, the bridge, the troll.
  2. C.     Shechem Wants to Marry Dinah, vss.3-4
    1. 1.      his soul was drawn to Dinah…he loved the young woman…and spoke tenderly to her- three verbs of love and tenderness counter the 3 verbs of violence. He now wants to marry Dinah, but makes no apology to her or her family about the rape.
    2. 2.      Get me this girl…Shechem does not address his father politely and the word for “get” is the same for “took” or “seized”. We see the same word/construction used by Samson in Judges 14:2. The word for girl-yalda– indicates a female child but he refers to Dinah as young woman-na ara- in vs. 12 when talking with her brothers. This indicates a possible demeaning attitude towards her in speaking to Hamor and may also indicate she is a very young teenager.
    3. 3.      for my wife- he is seeking to right the wrong by marrying her but Waltke says, (p.463), “However, Shechem acts wrongly in holding Dinah captive in his house and negotiating while puttingIsrael under duress.” Contrast this with the story of Amnon and Tamar in 2Sam.13 where, after he rapes Tamar, Amnon “then …hated her with very great hatred, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her.” (2Sam.13:15).


  1. II.                Responses to Dinah’s Defilement, vss.5-24
    1. A.     Jacob’s Inaction and Sons Reaction, vv.5-7
      1. 1.      Now Jacob heard that he had defiled his daughter Dinah- the word “defiled” is from a word group root t-m and means to be unclean, defiled, impure. The word is used for actions which defile the whole camp ofIsrael in Moses’ day, from sexual sin (see Lev.18:20,23).
      2. 2.      Jacob held his peace- here we have the emotionally distant father who remains too quiet, too passive. We have seen this before in Jacob in ch.30. Waltke writes, p.463, “The gap of Jacob’s emotions is remarkable. Elsewhere the narrator records his intense emotions (see 29:11,18; 32:7; 33:4; esp. 37:34-35 at the assumed death of Joseph).” Notice that Dinah’s brothers expressed indignation and anger over the rape, which contrasts with Jacob’s silence.
      3. 3.      until they came- apparently Jacob did not even send word to them, he seems passive in even reporting it to his sons.
      4. 4.      his sons were with the livestock in  the field- considering how Rebekah’s brother Laban was involved in the marriage negotiations, we can see that brothers were an important part of the decision making process for  a girl’s marriage. While this may mitigate Jacob’s silence to a degree, the overall tone of the chapter makes Jacob too passive and the brothers too aggressive.
      5. 5.      And Hamor went out to Jacob- Hamor the pagan Hivite takes the initiative in discussing things over with Jacob. He should have approached Jacob humbly seeking to make things right, but he approaches with confidence, and wanting to make a marriage contract.
      6. 6.      Apply- Christians can be too humble, too meek, and turn these spiritual traits into cowardice. We should at times, assert our rights when our cause is just and the gospel will not be harmed by our seeking our rights. It does not serve the gospel to become a doormat for the evil practices of unbelievers, gangsters, thugs, and criminals. It is one thing to “turn the other cheek” when we are slighted, mocked, or insulted; but when a crime has been committed, when your daughter is raped and the leading citizen wants to sweep it under the rug….NO! It is time to speak out against the powers that be and demand justice! Jacob’s silence is deafening. Hamor’s seeking a marriage for his son is insulting and unjust. Rape was against most pagan laws too, but in Paganville, just like here today, those in powerful positions decide how to enforce the law for good or ill. If we, the Church, refuse to stand up for law and order, who will? Will we willingly let society slide into anarchy?
      7. 7.      The sons of Jacob had come in from the field as soon as they heard of it- again, Moses gives no indication that Jacob contacted his sons. How much time passed we do not know.Hamilton understands it to mean that the sons of Jacob did not find out about the crime until they got home, thus indicating Jacob did not send word to them (p.356).Hamilton also points out that the word for “indignant” is the same word used of God back in 6:6 which described God’s grief at the evil rampant in Noah’s day. Waltke tells us that the only two times this word for grieved or indignant is used is here and in 6:6 which shows what Moses was trying to convey.
      8. 8.      Apply- The brothers of Dinah were properly shocked, grieved and angered at the crime. Their actions later should be considered excessive and sinfully wrong. Are we too silent in the face of evil? People do not like the Church to get involved in “issues”. But should we not point out great evil and then point to the gospel? Should we not call out for justice and then point the way to God’s grace? To remain silent in the face of great evil is to sin.
      9. 9.      Apply- in the last few weeks there have been many protests inFlorida, and in other places around the country, over the shooting death of a 17 yr old black man, Trayvon Martin. The protests are centering on the fact that the shooter, George Zimmerman, was not arrested because of his claim to self-defense. The case was not given to a grand jury. The protestors, mainly black, view this as a great social injustice. However, when the event first hit the news cycle, long after it had taken place, the only facts presented by the news media were that Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain, shot the unarmed Martin inside a gated community. Those kind of facts present the black man as victim of a racially based hate crime, which is very likely the intent of the news media. AFTER the protests began, the police department and other reporters began slowly releasing more information about the incident that now presents us with a picture of Zimmerman being attacked by Martin as seen by an eyewitness and confirmed by physical evidence. This would explain why the police did not arrest Zimmerman or send the case to a grand jury. This now complicates the case and it looks like a special prosecutor will investigate the case and the local police department’s handling of it. The point is that when it looked like a great injustice had been done, the black community was not silent. The counterpoint is that it looks like the case was misrepresented to the black community by the news media, intentionally. When the Church chooses to not be silent, we need to make certain that we have the facts on our side.
      10. 10.
      11. 11.
      12. 12.  he had done an outrageous thing in Israel…for such a thing must not be done- outrageous thing- nebala– a term of extreme gravity, “a general expression for serious disorderly and unruly action resulting in the break up of an existing relationship…Those who commit a moral outrage of the vilest sort against the deepest realities and convictions of the community must be punished to protect the fabric of the community (Deut. 22:21; Josh.7:15; Judg.19:23-24; 20:6,10; 2Sam.13:12; Jer.29:23)” (Waltke, p.464). “InIsrael” would be part of Moses’ preaching this to his people.


  1. B.     Hamor and Shechem’s Proposal, vv.8-12
    1. 1.      my son longs for your daughter- how sweet and romantic. His son raped your daughter! See how the world seeks to cover up its outrageous sins with romance and lies? He speaks like there was no rape at all.
    2. 2.      Please giver her to him to be his wife-
    3. C.     A Deceitful Treaty Proposed, vv.13-17
    4. D.    The Canaanite’s Deceitful Plan Exposed, vv.18-24
  2. III.             Shechem is Defiled, vv. 25-29
  3. IV.              Responses to Shechem’s Defilement, vv.30-31
    1. A.     Jacob’s Fear of Destruction, v.30
    2. B.     Jacob’s Sons Indignation, v.31


Boice, James Montgomery. Genesis: An Expositional Commentary, Volume 2, Genesis 12:1-36:43. Zondervan:Grand Rapids, MI. 1985 (pp.341-346).

Hamilton, Victor P. The Book of Genesis Chapters 18-50. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company:Grand Rapids, MI.1995 (pp.351-373).

Mathews, Kenneth A. The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26. Broadman & Holman Publishers:Nashville, TN. 2005. (pp.576-609).

Ross, Allen P. Creation & Blessing: A Guide to the Study and Exposition of Genesis. Baker Academic:Grand Rapids,MI 1998 (pp.568-576.)

Waltke, Bruce. Genesis: A Commentary, Zondervan:Grand Rapids, MI. 2001 (pp.458-469.)

Wenham, Gordon. Word Biblical Commentary vol.2 Genesis 16-50.Word Books:Dallas,TX. 1994 (pp.304-319).



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