In their analysis of Genesis 34 most commentators assume that Dinah was raped by Shechem, the local Hivite prince. Feminists use the story as the textbook example of what is wrong with patriarchy. In addition, Genesis 34 also records the massacre of the Hivite people by Dinah’s brothers in retaliation for the way in which they perceived Shechem had treated their sister. Even today, some ultra-orthodox Jews claim the brothers as heroes for cleansing the land of the Canaanites and look to the narrative as a model for “solving” the current Palestinian “problem.”
Most commentaries begin their analysis of the text with the assumption that Dinah was raped. However, Hebrew does not have a word for sexual abuse. So is this the correct characterization of the story? I decided to reread the story with an open mind and find out for myself whether the narrative describes a violent sexual encounter. And what if Dinah was not raped? Does that change everything for our understanding of the story and how it is used today? And what is the rhetorical purpose of this narrative? Here is my analysis of this ethically tangled story.
Birth of Dinah, the Daughter of Leah
“Afterwards she bore a daughter, and named her Dinah. Genesis 30:21 Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob…” Genesis 34:1
Dinah was the twelfth child of Jacob and the seventh offspring of her mother Leah, two numbers loaded with ritual and symbolic honors. She completes the family (Brenner, I Am, p.39). Though Gen. 46:17 indicates that Dinah had sisters, being the only named daughter of Jacob added to her significance.
However, after rejoicing in the birth of her six sons, Leah’s daughter arrived with no naming ceremony. Dinah did not receive any of the praise her brothers did at their birth. “That daughters were less highly esteemed is clearly apparent in this narrative. The narrator does not quote Leah’s naming of Dinah, nor does the narrator give the significance of her name. Leah does not connect the birth of Dinah with any potential for community esteem or the respect of her husband” (Jeansonne, p.135, n.28). Perhaps her name itself was Leah’s commentary on her life.
Dinah’s name is noteworthy because “din in Hebrew refers to religious law closely affiliated with justice, the source of which is divine. She is also identified as ‘the daughter of Leah.’ That is, her mother’s daughter first and foremost…Bearing in mind the meaning of Dinah’s name, is it possible that her birth bears witness to Leah’s power and ‘just’ (legal) stature?” (Sheres, pp.130-1).
Possibly Dinah’s name was a judgment on Jacob’s family and its dysfunctions.
The narrator specifically tells us that Dinah was Leah’s daughter thus drawing our attention to how Leah’s life might have shaped her daughter’s. “The image of the unhappy Leah, Jacob’s hated wife, thus comes briefly to the fore, reminding us of the tragic destiny of this woman and asking us to draw a hypothetical analogy between mother and daughter” (Aschkenasy, Women, p.48). Since Leah made no secret of her misery, Dinah must have been keenly aware that her mother had been rejected by her father. “A woman whose whole existence is defined by longings for the husband who hates her, and who sees in the birth of each son a possible salvation, is not a mother who can fill her daughter’s life with happiness and meaning or affirm the joys of female life” (Aschkenasy, Women, p.50).
Perhaps Dinah saw her mother as a negative role model, an example of how she did not want to end up. Her mother had complied with everyone’s expectations. She cooperated with her father’s scheme to substitute her for Rachel in Jacob’s bed. She provided ample boys to her husband. She dutifully followed him to Canaan.
“If all that brought Leah misery rather than happiness, however, then her daughter Dinah would carve out a different destiny…Leah concurred with the family’s preference for endogamy and wedded her cousin, so her daughter would exit the family compound to look for a social life outside it” (Aschkenasy, Women, p.50).
In deliberate contrast to her mother, Dinah would go out and become the initiator of events.
A variety of commentators find something fishy about Dinah being the daughter of Leah. They argue that the narrator is setting us up to expect something bad to happen to Dinah. Leah was doomed to a miserable life, then so too her daughter will be miserable as well. These interpreters, and especially the rabbinical tradition, point to Leah’s going out to meet her husband Jacob for the purpose of having sexual intercourse with him. Like mother, like daughter, they say. Blyth cautions us in reading a pejorative meaning into Dinah being identified as Leah’s daughter.
“While the rabbinic midrashists chose to interpret this identification of Dinah as ‘daughter of Leah’ as a deliberate attempt by the narrator to raise suspicions about her underlying motives for going out, the philological evidence for such a reading is hardly persuasive… The use of matrilineal descent to identify a woman does not appear to carry any inherently negative connotations within the book of Genesis” (Blyth, pp. 179-80).
The mention of Dinah as Leah’s daughter may emphasize that daughters belonged to their mothers, not their fathers. With the exception of Benjamin, all of Jacob’s children were born in Haran, which, as I have discussed in my study of Rachel, Leah and Rebecca, was known for it’s matrilineal tradition. Therefore, the mention of Dinah might be a reference to her being the one to carry on the legacy and inheritance of her foremothers.
It Started Peacefully
“Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, on his way from Paddan-aram; and he camped before the city. And from the sons of Hamor, Shechem’s father, he bought for one hundred pieces of qesitah the plot of land on which he had pitched his tent.” Genesis 33:18-19
After Dinah’s birth Jacob left Laban’s house with his family and settled peacefully near the city of Shechem.
“Two critical aspects of this relationship were receiprocity and voluntary association. By entering the territory of Hamor ‘in peace’ (Gen. 33:18), Jacob demonstrated his willingness to respect the law of the land. By alienating his property in favor of a stranger Hamor indicated his readiness to accommodate the needs of his guestfriend… Economically advantageous to both sides, this friendship between strangers also entailed mutual obligations as it operated side by side with the duties generated by kin ties and blood” (Zlotnick, pp. 35-6).
Jacob’s family became fixtures in the community, building up relationships with the local people. Zlotnick notes that there was no prohibition against women having friendships with women of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds (Zlotnick, p.36). Certainly Dinah’s father had no qualms about having a friendly liaison with the Hivite leader. Given this socioeconomic context, would it have been unusual for Dinah to interact with the local women?
Dinah Goes Out (yz’/yasa)
“Now Dinah…went out to visit the women of the region.” Genesis 34:1
As innocent as Dinah’s going out appears, many commentators have blamed her for the subsequent events because she left the protection of her father’s encampment. This perpetuates the insidious myth that Dinah “asked for it” and that the text critiques Dinah for going out because “girls of a marriageable age would not normally leave a rural encampment to go unchaperoned into an alien city” (Sarna, p.233). Although we have come to think that all ancient Middle Eastern women were forbidden to leave home without their male relatives, the scholar Frymer-Kensky has come to the conclusion that biblical “and ancient Near Eastern societies were not that extreme and did not confine girls to the house. They had responsibilities, such as drawing water, which took them out into the public sphere” (Reading, p.181). Perhaps like Rebecca, Dinah simply took a trip to the local well.
Ah, no. There is something insidious in Dinah’s departure, many commentators declare. She left the house without a specific chore, therefore she should be viewed with suspicion. They point to the Old Babylonian word wasitum (literally “the woman who goes out”) which they equate with harimtu, “prostitute” as proof that the narrator meant to condemn Dinah (Frymer-Kensky, Reading, p.181). In addition, several commentators, including Davies, have argued that the Akkadian verb wasu is similar to the Hebrew yasa, “to go out,” and is replete with sexual connotations (p.78, n 2). Parry has shown that this is a very weak argument since we cannot make a simple equivalence between Akkadian and Hebrew, among other issues. In a further effort to prove that yasa implied sexual impropriety, Davies and others point to second and third century C.E. Aramaic translations (targums) of the Bible which equated cult prostitutes with women who “go out into the countryside.” However, the very late rabbinical usage of the word does not mean that it originally held this connotation (Parry, p.13).
Furthermore, the Hebrew Bible does not use the verb “go out” to show that all women “going out” were viewed negatively. Women went out to collect water, worship, meet people and shepherd sheep. “Most of the 1,068 uses of the [yasa] stem simply denote someone moving from one place to another…The vast majority of…women who ‘go out’ are not being implicitly condemned for having done so” (Parry, p.14). A variety of women in the Hebrew Bible “go out” including Yael, “most blessed of women” to greet Barak, the commander of the Israelite army to announce the death of the enemy. Jephthah’s daughter comes out of the house to meet her father to rejoice in his military victory. David’s wife Michal goes out to meet her husband in order to berate him. Rachel goes out alone to tend to her father’s flock. Abigail sets off without her husband’s consent to negotiate with David. The daughters of Zelophehad meet Moses publicly at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. In all of these cases, and more, there is no suggestion that the women are seeking a sexual encounter.
“If one were to cast an eye over all the passages listed earlier, which depict women ‘going out’ (yasa), it becomes apparent that it is far more common for women to venture forth into the public realm without any suggestion of endangerment… Furthermore, these women neither appear to be rebuked for doing so, nor are they regularly warned of the dangers that they may encounter on their travels” (Blyth, pp.186-7).
We can conclude from the general usage of the term “to go out” that women’s journeys out of their homes were not considered naïve or irresponsible.
Not ready to give up the argument that it was Dinah’s fault, interpreters make use of Proverbs 7 wherein the Strange Woman “goes out” into the streets on the prowl for sexual prey. However, this represents a very different situation from Dinah’s since the Strange Woman dresses as a prostitute and clearly goes out with the intention of luring a man. In Dinah’s case, the narrator states that she went out to seek the daughters of the land and there is no indication that she had licentious intentions. “Given the mountains of blame heaped upon Dinah by classical interpreters, one is struck by the fact that at no time in the chapter is Dinah blamed for what has happened…No mention is made of Dinah acting like a prostitute and thus sharing in the blame” (Parry, p.16). In the end, the attempt to make Dinah’s going out morally suspect is simply a way of blaming her for subsequent events, including the massacre her brother’s will execute in her name.
Was Dinah Raped?
Since the Bible has no specific term for rape, we must examine a series of words used to describe Shechem’s actions and emotions connected with his interaction with Dinah.
The text “never tells us clearly that Shechem raped her. This story piles ambiguity upon enigma by ‘gapping’ (leaving unsaid) vital elements. The significance of the story depends on the way that readers fill in these gaps. If we assume that she was assaulted, then the story can and has been read and interpreted as a straightforward narrative of rape and revenge, a classic ‘morality tale,’ a dramatic illustration of society’s desire to keep girls under surveillance…If we do not assume that he raped her, the story becomes a fascinating tale of love, honor, intrigue, and war” (Frymer- Kensky, Reading, p.182).
Let’s look more closely at the words used in the text: take (lqh), lay (skb), and ‘inna which signifies that he did something to Dinah. The early and significant Septuagint “translates none of these words with ‘violence’, ‘abuse’ or ‘rape’…[However in] modern biblical studies until the 1980’s biblical scholars appear to be unanimous in regarding the episode as a forceful encounter” (van Wold, p.528). In fact, in the cases where scholars even explore the possibility that rape is not indicated in Dinah’s story, they use circular arguments by assuming first that Dinah was raped and then they reinterpret the story to find sexual abuse. I decided to take a fresh look at these words step by step to determine whether Dinah was raped or not.
Shechem Sees (r’h) Dinah
“When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the region, saw her…” Genesis 34:2
Based on the festival described in Judges 19, Isa. 16:10, Jer. 31:4 and the Song of Songs, Fleishman suggests “that the words ‘to gaze at the daughters of the land’ hint that what happened between Shechem and Dinah can be understood against the background of special festivities for girls” (p.26). Perhaps Dinah attended a wine harvest festival where the daughters of the land danced. Apparently Shechem was present.
Shechem Took (lqh/laqah) Her
The word “takes” (lqh) occurs throughout the story. It is used in the expression “to give and take wives” in the Hivite proposal for peaceful cooperation with the Jacobites. Later Dinah’s brothers “take” their swords to the Hivite males and then “take” Dinah from Shechem’s house. The verb laqah does not necessarily convey any inherent sense of force or violence (Bader, p.26). “Within this contextual local of non-aggressive acquisition, one very common treatment of laqah is its denotation of the act of ‘taking’ a wife in marriage” (Blyth, p.57). There is much debate about the issues of the grammar here so any conclusions we make about the significance of “take” must balance all the evidence. However, in an of itself, laqah does not connote a violent act and should not be translated as “seize” without further evidence of aggression on Shechem’s part.
Shechem Lays Her (skb ‘et)
Perhaps the next phrase, skb ‘et, used to describe Shechem’s action connotes rape. Since the syntax introduces Dinah as a direct object of the sexual act (“he laid her”), this has led many commentators to conclude that the sexual intercourse between the two was violent and coercive. “The narrator in Gen 34:2 says that Shechem (literally) ‘lay her’… rather than the usual… ‘lay with her’… thus emphasizing the use of force in the sexual crime. The preposition ‘im, ‘with,’ implies permission” (Davidson, p. 513). Other biblical interpreters disagree with this translation since it is “based solely upon the system of asoretic vowel pointing, which occurred at a date much later than when this text was originally composed” (Blyth, p.53). The verb sakab designates sexual intercourse without any suggestion of force.
Where “sakab is employed within a sexual context will leave us in no doubt that it does not exclusively carry an inherent sense of sexual aggression…it occurs extensively throughout the biblical corpus to connote sexual intercourse, the vast majority of which is not depicted, either explicitly or implicitly, as being forcible or coercive” (Blyth, pp. 50-51).
Furthermore, most ancient versions of Genesis 34:2 translate sakab as “He lay with her.” The “use of sakab as transitive verb ‘he laid’ in order to convey sexual assault was not generally acknowledged at the time the Greek translator was working on these texts…the Latin version of the Hebrew Bible, the Biblica Sacra Vulgata, translates the phrase …as…’he lay with her’. Such text-critical evidence strongly suggests that in Gen. 34:2, this phrase was originally read as ‘and he lay with her’ (wayyiskab ‘ittah) which does not inherently connote any sense of violent or non-consensual sexual activity” (Blyth, pp.54-5). Again, there is no inherent suggestion of force in the language used to describe Shechem’s action.
Shechem Does Something (‘nh/’inna) to Dinah
“And he ‘inna her…” Genesis 34:2
‘Inna is the pivotal word of the text upon which the entire interpretation of the story depends. “If ever words can change one’s view of a text, this word can. If the verb ‘inna denotes ‘rape’, then the murder of the Shechemites can be defended, or is often defended, because of this unacceptable deed. If this word refers to something else, the murder of the Shechemites is to be judged as unacceptable” (van Wolde, p.530). Usually the term is translated as “to humble.” Even a man who has consensual sex with a woman without her father’s permission is said to “‘inna the woman” (Frymer-Kensky, Sex, p.1145). So if the word does not mean rape, then what does it mean “to humble” a woman? The same word is used to describe Sarah’s treatment of Hagar as well as being used in other non-sexual contexts.
“‘Innah, usually has nothing to do with sex, and means to treat people without regard to the proper treatment that their status requires. The one biblical law that is explicitly and unequivocally about rape (Deut. 22:25-26) uses the term ‘lie with by force”; the word ‘innah does not even appear…The sex may be sweet and romantic. But the fact that the man has intercourse with her degrades her…The story is told from the viewpoint of the family and society from which Dinah went out. From their perspective, an unmarried girl’s consent does not make sex a permissible act. She has, after all, no right of consent” (Frymer-Kensky, Reading, p.183).
The right of consent belongs to the girl’s father. Many commentators make reference to the use of ‘innah in the story of Tamar and Amnon where rape had clearly occurred. Frymer-Kensky argues that word order counts. In Dinah’s case the word ‘innah comes before the words “lay with” as opposed to the story of Tamar and Amnon where the words are reversed. In the story of David’s daughter Tamar her brother Amnon degraded her before he sexually abused her whereas in Dinah’s case, Shechem lay with her first before the ‘innah occurred.
“In rape, the word ‘innah comes before the words ‘lay with'; in other forms of illicit sexual intercourse, ‘innah comes after ‘lay with.’ There is a reason for this difference in word order. In rape, abuse starts the moment the rapist begins to use force, long before penetration. In other illicit sexual encounters, the act of intercourse may not be abusive.” (Frymer-Kensky, Reading, p.183).
After studying the use of ‘inna throughout the Hebrew Bible, van Wolde states that “the verb ‘inna does not refer to the sexual deed itself…or to its enforced character, as these are indicated by ‘seize’ or ‘take hold of’. However, the verb ‘inna does reflect on its consequences: the social debasement of the woman in the perspective of a social-judicial context, often in relation to the social debasement of the men related to her, and almost always as something which affects the whole Israelite society” (van Wolde, pp.541-2). Simply by having sex with Dinah before marriage, Shechem had humbled her. Innah “is usually understood as expressing a particular sense of social humiliation and debasement, wrought upon a woman as a result of her participation in a sexual relationship, which either is deemed unlawful and morally defiling…Thus, for example, Ezek. 22:10 refers to the men of Jerusalem who ‘debase’ (‘innu) a menstruating woman by having sexual intercourse with her…These sexual events are evaluated as serious socio-religious infractions…and are therefore recognized as the source of the woman’s dishonour” (Blyth, p.64). Again, we have no confirmation that Dinah was raped, only that pre-marital sex with Shechem compromised her status within her father’s household.
His Heart Cleaved (dabaq) to Dinah
“And his soul was drawn to Dinah daughter of Jacob…” Genesis 34:3
So we have established that Shechem saw Dinah, had non-abusive, pre-marital sex with her and as a consequence she was humiliated. Next we learn that his heart “cleaved” (dabaq) to her. If you assume that Dinah had been raped, then this demonstration of emotion would be highly suspect. However, since it appears that we are dealing with a consensual situation, Shechem’s love appears to be genuine.
“As if to elevate and even sanctify the love that Shechem feels toward Dinah, the biblical writer pauses to point out that Shechem ‘cleaves’ to Dinah. The only other passage in the Hebrew Bible where the word is used in the same sense–‘to describe a loving relationship between two human beings’–is the story of Creation in the Book of Genesis, where God creates Adam and Eve, and then blesses the bond between them as an expression of the natural order of human life” (Kirsch, p.79).
Gen. 2:24 conveys ideal marital love as intended by God: “Therefore, a man leaves his father and mother and cleaves to his wife, that they become one flesh.” Scholz contends that dabaq is better understood as a description of spatial closeness (p.140). Therefore when Ruth 1:14 describes Ruth “clinging” to Naomi, it means that Ruth stayed with Naomi. To bolster this argument Scholz cites Num. 36:7, 9 where the word does not signify emotional closeness but a sense of possessing something. Therefore Scholz concludes that Shechem “kept” Dinah in the sense of imprisoning her.
“Nevertheless, intertextual comparisons between Gen. 34:3 and the two other passages where dabaq is used to describe the relationship between a man and a woman would suggest that Scholz’s reading of this phrase might not be entirely appropriate. In both Gen. 2:24 and 1 Kgs. 11:2, it unequivocally denotes an emotional rather than a physical closeness between sexual partners…Given the similarities in context between these two passages and Gen. 34:3-that is, the particularly sexual nature of the relationship between a man and a woman–it would, therefore, appear probable that, here in Genesis 34, the phrase ‘and his soul-cleaved to Dinah’ gives voice to Shechem’s passionate love and desire for the woman he seeks to marry rather than simply his physical proximity to her” (Blyth, p.207).
Therefore, dabaq emphasizes the stability of the connection Shechem feels for Dinah.
Shechem Loved (‘ahab) Her
Scholars note that in the clear case of Amnon raping his sister in 2 Samuel 13, he also loved (‘ahab) his sister. These writers insist that ‘ahab denotes a more pejorative sense of uncontrolled emotion. So are we to interpret ‘ahab as an illicit sexual desire in Dinah’s story? Does the use of this word mean that Shechem raped Dinah? Sociological studies find that stranger rapists feel nothing but hatred toward their victims after the abuse. However, in acquaintance rape, the rapists typically act as if nothing had happened and then try to woo the abused woman. Since we don’t know how well Shechem and Dinah knew each other, it is difficult to determine what Shechem’s subsequent behavior may have meant. If we do not assume beforehand that Shechem raped Dinah, all things being equal, we should interpret Shechem’s emotions of cleaving, speaking to her heart (v.3), longing for (v.8), and setting his delight (hapas) toward her (v.19), as overwhelming evidence that we are to interpret his love for Dinah in a positive light.
Shechem Spoke to Her Heart (dibber ‘el libbah)
This phrase appears only eight times in the Bible. The phrase “he spoke to his/her heart” are the same words Joseph used in speaking to his frightened brothers (Gen. 50:21), and later what Boaz said to Ruth (Ruth 2:13). Fewell and Gunn reason these words indicate that Shechem got through to Dinah and she responded positively (Gender, p.81). Sternberg has clearly demonstrated that Shechem’s soothing words do not indicate anything about Dinah’s response to him. “Fewell and Gunn have confused the agent-oriented ‘speak [dbr] to the heart of somebody’ with the patient-oriented ‘touch [or reach, ng’] the heart of somebody” (p.476). The idiomatic expression means to speak good words to cheer someone without necessarily pulling it off. Those who assume that Dinah was raped interpret Shechem’s tender words as self-interested rather than being based on feelings of true compassion (Blyth, p.214).
Fewell and Gunn don’t buy the idea that Shechem really fell in love with Dinah because they insist that he raped her and rapists don’t fall in love with their victims. For them, the story of King David’s daughter’s rape by her brother is a far more believable scenario since Amnon grew to hate his sister after the deed. To account for the given text, Fewell and Gunn insist that Dinah’s experience has been “rewritten-fictionalized and idealized from an androcentric point of view” (Gender, p.82). In other words, Genesis 34 is simply a male fantasy. Aside from the dismissal of the given story, incongruously they then find Dinah’s story “credible” because she is silenced by the narrator. This is a confused if not disingenuous argument.
A more substantial line of reasoning notes that the phrase he spoke to her heart is the same expression used by the Levite towards his concubine in Judges 19:3. Ultimately the Levite threw his concubine out into the street to be raped to death by the men of the city. If there had been any other indication of a rape in Dinah’s story than an intertextual reading should send up a red flag of warning. However, once again, without any other indication of a violent sexual encounter between Dinah and Shechem, the later story of the Levite’s concubine does not shed light on the Genesis 34 story.
Commentators also note that in verse 2 Dinah is an object: Shechem sees her, takes her and lies with her. Then in verse 3 she becomes a real person to him when he falls in love with the young woman. For many readers this shift of perspective indicates initial violence on Shechem’s part. To bolster their view that Dinah was objectified by Shechem and possibly raped, commentators note that she is referred to as “her,” “sister,” “daughter” and “girl.” Only the narrator calls her by name. To many this signifies that Dinah was no more than an object to Shechem, her brothers and Jacob.
Parry notes that this view assumes that “people are only seen most fully as people when they are considered as isolated individuals who are fully ‘themselves’ on their own…The ‘self’ is a ‘self-in-relation': part of what it is for me to be me is to be someone’s son, someone’s brother, someone’s father. Feminism itself has played an important role in rediscovering the crucial place of relationality in identity. Thus Genesis 34 does not demean Dinah by referring to her as ‘Jacob’s daughter’ or ‘their sister’. On top of that, the men are described as ‘her father’ and ‘her brothers’ indicating that their identity is formed, in part, by their relation to her” (Parry, p.11).
Along with several scholars I agree with Wyatt who compared Dinah’s story with similar ancient Near Easter texts and concludes, “it seems then that there is no justification so far as the vocabulary is concerned for the conclusion that the encounter is a violent one” (pp. 435-436). However, Shechem did understand that he should not have had sex with Dinah out of wedlock and his action degraded her and her family. “Dinah’s consent was not enough: the fact that Shechem had not spoken to her parents in advance constituted a serious impropriety, a threat to the integrity of Dinah’s family” (Frymer-Kensky, In the Wake, p.194).
A similar but not identical concern is demonstrated in the American laws regarding statutory rape. Keep in mind that this is a very tenuous comparison between contemporary American customs and those in effect in Dinah’s time. Girls in ancient Israel were considered marriageable at 11 and a mature romantic interest in a spouse was not presumed or required. “In ancient times, no unmarried girl or woman, at any age, had the right of consent, and a married woman could not consent to anyone other than her husband” (Frymer-Kensky, Reading, p.187). My point here is that the values and assumptions of Dinah’s story are still at work in modern society.
“As modern readers, we often feel outrage that Dinah’s will is not consulted, her voice not heard…we often forget how recently such phrases as ‘Who gives this girl in marriage?’ and ‘asking for your daughter’s hand’ lost their legal import. The right of fathers to decide their daughter’s marital destiny was an unquestioned prerogative, even in the United States, until well within living memory” (Frymer-Kensky, Reading, p.187).
Pressler urges us to analyze and criticize the story of Dinah because, like her, contemporary women continue to be denied their right to sexual and physical integrity (Pressler, pp.111-2). And just like Dinah, even though a woman is not a victim of rape, her voice can be silenced and personhood can still be erased by the same underlying assumptions at work in Genesis 34.
Jacob’s Initial Response & Dinah’s “Defilement” (tame)
“Now Jacob heard that Shechem had defiled his daughter Dinah; but his sons were with his cattle in the field, so Jacob held his peace until they came. And Hamor the father of Shecem went out to Jacob to speak with him, just as the sons of Jacob came in from the field. When they heard of it, the men were indignant and very angry…” Genesis 34:5-7
Before Shechem and his father, Hamor, approached Jacob to ask for Dinah’s hand in marriage, Jacob heard what had happened. “People are talking. The deed has become known, and Jacob has been publicly dishonored. Their offense has escalated into scandal” (Frymer-Kensky, Reading, p.189). The situation had become fraught with socio-cultural issues. On one hand, Jacob was the guest-friend of Hamor and was in a position of respecting the customs of his host (Zlotnick, p.40). On the other hand, the son of his host had ruined his daughter’s marriageablity. Even though it does not appear that Shechem raped Dinah, to her male relatives she was “damaged goods” because they valued her mainly for her sexual chastity.
When Shechem slept with Dinah, he offended Jacob and her brothers because Dinah’s intact hymen was their legal claim. “Maintaining the girl’s virginity is the prerogative and the duty of the male members of the family…and the chastity of the girl becomes an indicator of the social worth of the family and the men in it. ‘Real men’ have the strength and cunning to protect their women” (Frymer-Kensky, Reading, p.185). Simply put, the men of the family controlled her sexuality. They suffered a financial injury when she lost her virginity because she could no longer fetch a high bride price. The male bias of the account is most clearly evident from the way in which Dinah is regarded as defiled. In addition, the men of the family were socially disgraced.
“Genesis 34 is written from the point of view of the family. Dinah has brought disaster on them. Her consent would not change this; on the contrary, from the family’s perspective, matters might even be worse if she had consented than if she had been raped. When a girl is raped, the rapist brings shame on the family. But if she is a willing participant, the shame is compounded. The man has shown the weakness of the family’s boundaries, and the girl has revealed its inability to control itself internally” (Frymer-Kensky, Reading, p.188).
Ironically, the narrator protected Dinah’s honor by keeping her silent and not confirming that she was a willing participant in the sexual liaison with Shechem. Later laws state that if an unmarried girl was found guilty of intercourse, she should be stoned “because she was faithless to her father’s house.” (Deut. 22:13-21). Although the laws of Deuteronomy probably did not apply during Jacob’s time, he certainly showed a great deal of mercy and restraint in his initial response to the news of Dinah’s defilement. Neither Jacob, nor her brother, blamed Dinah for the incident with Shechem. Like the use of the word ‘inna, the concept of defilement is to be understood to mean that the sexual relation between Shechem and Dinah was forbidden but not forced (Kirsch, p.78). “Jacob’s initial response is a cultic evaluation: his daughter has been ‘defiled.’ For Jacob, Dinah now has a new status within the religious frame of thinking: she is in a state of defilement and impurity” (Aschkenasy, Eve’s, pp.125-6).
Sheres speculates that since tum’a (defilement) is a religious concept, used especially in relation to the performance of worship rituals, that it is possible that Dinah was a religious functionary in a women’s cult. “Was she attempting to continue in Canaan what she was used to in Haran? Or was she continuing something that her mother was involved with before moving to Canaan?” (Sheres, pp.135-6). I find it much more likely that her impurity was understood in terms of the worship of Yahweh. The people’s impurity was believed to defile the land of Israel, the land in which Yahweh dwelled. Defilement would cause God to abandon the covenant community with devastating consequences. Hence, by labeling Dinah as defiled, her father faced a crisis of the highest order. Even if the sexual encounter had been consensual, when the rest of her family labeled her as “defiled” she must have felt like a rape victim: humiliated and degraded. Survivors of sexual violence report that their families, particularly the men, react as if they were the real victims of the crime “because their right to control the sexual boundaries of their wife, partner, or daughter and their claims to exclusive ownership of this woman’s sexuality have been seriously compromised” (Blyth, p.96). Dinah’s brothers treated her as if she had been raped and therefore provided all the social stigma and emotional trauma associated with sexual violence. Dinah’s experience was consistently overshadowed by both her brothers’ and father’s concerns for their ownership rights and damaged honor. Her absence from the subsequent narrative then becomes a message to women that their lives are not their own but only significant in relation to men.
Many readers are disturbed by Jacob’s seeming lack of compassion for his daughter.
“This unfeeling response to the fate of one of his children stand in complete contrast to his strong emotion reaction in Gen. 37:34-5, when he saw the (fabricated) evidence that suggested his cherished son Joseph was dead. If Dinah was one of Jacob’s daughters mentioned in 37:35, who tried to console their father, I wonder how she felt, given the contrast between his inconsolable grief over the apparent loss of his son and his unfeeling reaction during her own time of suffering” (Blyth, pp.116-7).
Bechtel points out that Genesis 34 is a story about a group-oriented society where people derive their identity through their bonds with the other group members. “Since identity stems from the group, the welfare of the group is considered identical to the welfare of the individual” (Bechtel, What If, p.21). As modern people living in an extremely individual oriented culture, it is hard for us to conceive of Jacob’s concern for the family as a whole as an indication of his concern for Dinah as well. Since the other male members of the family were absent when Hamor and Shechem came to speak to him, he held his peace until his sons returned from the field. This demonstrates that Jacob performed the proper group-oriented behavior.
“He is…dependent on his community and cooperative. He does not carry out independent action, but waits for mutual support…From an individual-oriented perspective, modern exegetes are either puzzled by the behavior of Jacob or critical of his quiescence and passivity–they are, after all, ‘feminine’ traits in modern society. But from the perspective of the story Jacob is the ideal group-oriented person!” (Bechtel, What If, p.335).
The Brothers’ Reaction: Such a Thing is Not Done in Israel (nebal)
“When they heard of it, the men were indignant and very angry, because he had committed an outrage [nebal] in Israel by lying with Jacob’s daughter, for such a thing ought not to be done.” Genesis 34:7
A “nebal which ought not to be done” is a common expression in shame-cultures. (See D. Daube, “The Culture of Deuteronomy”, Orita 3 (1969) 27-52 for a discussion of this phrase). Since the concept of nebal, a folly, is reflected in Amnon’s rape of his sister Tamar in 2 Sam. 13:12, many commentators conclude, due to the linguistic similarities, that this phrase indicates that Dinah was also raped. However, an “examination of the texts where nebalah appears shows that it is certainly not a term reserved for sexual offences of a particularly abhorrent kind. Rather nebalah is a general expression for serious disorderly and unruly action” (Phillips, p.241). The brothers perceived that Shechem has been reckless, not because they thought she was raped but simply for the fact that he laid (with) her.
Returning again to the group oriented values of Jacob’s family,
“they perceived this crime as one that adversely affected neither Dinah alone nor even themselves as individuals, but the entire community to which they belonged. For, the term nebalah is never used with reference to the wrongful behaviour of one individual against another; rather, it connotes a dangerously disruptive act, which struck at the heart of Israelite community stability, violated its socio-ethical codes and value systems, and was therefore capable of bringing chaos and unruliness to the established bonds of social relationships” (Blyth, p.130).
The net result of this value system is that Dinah’s emotions were disregarded and she was stigmatized, not Shechem. “The linkage of the disastrous events described in these chapters to the woman’s crossing the threshold of her male custodian at her own initiative is by no means coincidental. It implies that grave consequences may ensue from the male custodian’s failure to control his female dependents” (Fuchs, p.211). If the men cannot protect their women, they are seen as weak and the family’s status falls. As a consequence they will “have a harder time obtaining wives, will have to pay a greater bride-price, and may not be able to marry into high-status families…The brother may not even be conscious of the damage his sister’s act can do to his future, but he is aware that the culture considers his own honor at stake, and that he must avenge her violation to restore his violated honor” (Frymer-Kensky, Reading, p.190). What we are seeing here is the patriarchal ideology which safeguards men’s authority over the females in the family.
Shechem Asks for Dinah’s Hand in Marriage
“But Hamor spoke with them, saying, ‘The heart of my son Shechem longs for your daughter; please give her to him in marriage. Make marriages with us; give your daughters to us, and take our daughters for yourselves. You shall live with us; and the land shall be open to you; live and trade in it, and get property in it.’ Shechem also said to her father and to her brothers, ‘Let me find favor with you, and whatever you say to me I will give. Put the marriage present and gift as high as you like, and I will give whatever you ask me; only give me the girl to be my wife.'” Genesis 34:8-12
With no reference to rape or any offer of apologies, Shechem and his father attempted to rectify the situation. In another indication that Shechem did not rape Dinah, he was more than happy to pay a larger than usual mohar, bride-price. Upon acceptance of the mohar, Dinah “would be considered a proper wife and the family’s honor would be restored” (Fleishman, p.29). Shechem demonstrated that he meant no dishonor to Dinah or her family.
Furthermore, “Hamor makes his (from his point of view) magnanimous offer. ‘Intermarry with us; give us your daughters and take our daughters for yourselves, and live with us.’ He is giving Jacob equivalent status with himself and offering a permanent alliance” (Frymer-Kensky, Reading, p.191). This is significant because Hamor was chief of the Hivites and Shechem was a nasi, a prince. This “marriage is more than a private affair; it is both the bonding of two individuals and two groups… These are not people who feel vulnerable, interior or lacking in control, so that they need to create the illusion of power, control, dominance and superiority through rape” (Bechtel, What If, pp. 29-30). It was in everyone’s best interests to accept the offer, particularly Dinah’s. “Staying with the man who claimed to love her was certainly better than returning to an unhappy mother, a neglectful father, and hotheaded brothers” (Aschkenasy, Women, p.61). If Shechem had abandoned her, she would have remained in her father’s house for the rest of her life, unwed and disgraced.
Negotiations & Deception
“The sons of Jacob answered Shechem and his father Hamor deceitfully, because he had defiled their sister Dinah. They said to them, ‘We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one who is uncircumcised, for that would be a disgrace to us. Only on this condition will we consent to you: that you will become as we are and every male among you be circumcised. Then we will give our daughters to you…'” Genesis 34:13-16
According to Pitt-Rivers, the Canaanites already practiced circumcision (p.184, n.51). Shechem was willing to reenact circumcision to show Jacob that he was willing to behave according to the norms and customs of Jacob’s family. Shechem did not delay in accepting circumcision as a condition for marriage to Dinah, further evidence that Shechem really loved Dinah.
By mentioning the brothers’ deceit, the narrator alerts the reader that they had no intention of accepting the Hivite offer. Shechem’s marriage to Dinah and his submission to the brothers’ terms would have restored everyone’s honor. Why wasn’t this enough for them? It doesn’t make sense that Dinah’s brothers would sabotage the negotiations.
“Jacob’s family represented a tiny clan of nomads who had just settled on a small piece of land purchased from a local potentate. Hamor’s family controlled a considerable stretch of land and represented the multifold advantages that a settled society in a preurbanized environment could offer. Prior to the encounter between Shechem and Dinah the advantages were all on the side of Hamor’s people. Nor did they have reason to seek marital bonds with Jacob’s family” (Zlotnick, p.43).
It seemed that Dinah’s brothers were not in a position to negotiate at all. But negotiate they did and in bad faith too. The brothers claimed that Dinah couldn’t marry Shechem because he was uncircumcised and therefore an impure outsider. According to several scholars such as Bechtel and Sternberg, “the brothers’ vehement and murderous anger in response to Dinah’s deflowerment ultimately stems from their utter rejection of intermarriage and interethnic sexual relations” (Blyth, p.122). However, it appears that this is not the real reason they secretly objected to the union.
If Dinah wasn’t supposed to marry a foreigner then whom was she supposed to marry? One of her brothers? “Unfortunately for Dinah, the stranger and the brother are her only alternatives” (Camp, p.291). The brothers also had the same limitations placed on them. Either they married their sisters or they married strangers. While “it is true that Israelite-Canaanite exogamy is prohibited on pain of death in the law codes of Deuteronomy and the Book of the Covenant, such a divinely ordained distaste for interethnic sexual unions is not consistently given voice within the patriarchal traditions of the book of Genesis” (Blyth, p.122). In fact Dinah’s brothers Judah and Simeon marry Canaanite women themselves (Gen. 38:1-2; 46:10).
“Such an occurrence would be very strange indeed if, such a short time beforehand, Judah and Simeon had conspired with their brothers to commit an act of genocide against the Hivite people in response to Shechem’s own exogamous designs… It surely makes little sense, therefore, to suggest, as Sternberg does, that the brothers’ murderous revenge against the Hivite people was fuelled primarily by their ethical and religious abhorrence of exogamy” (Blyth, pp.123-4).
As if to prove this point, further on in the narrative when Dinah’s brothers capture all the Hivite women, they seem to have no problem marrying and cohabitating with foreigners themselves. “While, in Gen. 34:14, we hear the brothers’ claim that the eschewal of interethnic sexual congress was a significant religiocultural creed within the Jacobite community, it is more likely that this claim was simply an intrinsic part of their deceitful speech…The narrator gives the reader no clues as to which parts of the speech are true and which are deceitful; we simply cannot assume” (Blyth, p.124). It appears that the brother’s demand for circumcision was motivated by political expedience and did not reflect their true beliefs (Noble, p. 183 n.24).
When Dinah’s brothers agreed to Shechem’s offer on the condition that the entire male population was to be circumcised, they officially agreed to the marriage and therefore had no legal right to object later.
The brothers were “willing to denigrate an important component of their identity, circumcision, and to sacrifice, a significant cultural value that is in itself part of the honor code: keeping their word reached in negotiation…They have sacrificed their reputation as honest men, and [Jacob’s] along with theirs…In their rush to restore the honor that Dinah’s actions have endangered, the brothers have brought a new type of dishonor upon themselves” (Frymer-Kensky, Reading, pp.192, 195-6).
In a shame based culture, this is a very high price to pay. Once it became known that Jacob’s family was deceitful, no one would trade with them, offer them grazing and water rights, or any kind of social interaction. “Jacob points to an essential characteristic of Israelite history-Israel is small, few in number, and surrounded by those who could destroy her. If she makes herself hateful, she might disappear” (Frymer-Kensky, Reading, p.196). The modern state of Israel faces the same conundrum: If nations know that they will not retaliate, then Israel’s enemies will not hesitate to attack. How would history have been different if Dinah’s brothers had not acted in deceit and violence?
Dinah Remains in Shechem’s House
At first glance the Hivvites’ offer seems very fair. Aschkenasy argues, however, that the Hivites negotiated in bad faith as well as Dinah’s brothers. She notes that after the negotiations, the biblical narrator lets slip that Dinah had remained in Shechem’s home the entire time. Rereading the meeting with Jacob and his sons, we realize that the cards were in the Hivvites’ hands.
If “the brothers did not agree to a settlement, the girl would still remain in the Hivvites’ home. The Hivvites thus emerge as less generous than they first appear to be; they negotiate from a position of strength, giving the brothers no real option but to agree to their request…Thus, when the brothers finally resort to violence, we understand that this was the only option open to them. Dinah is still within the walls of the city of Shekhem, and the only way to get her out is by force. If the excessive killing might seem unnecessary, we must remember that the only way to get to the imprisoned Dinah, and to insure her safe return, is by clearing the route that leads to the place where she is held. Dinah’s two full brothers, Simon and Levi, force their way into Shekhem’s house, killing all the males, and then take their sister and leave” (Aschkenasy, Eve’s pp.126-7).
However Aschkenasy overlooks the fact that Dinah’s brothers never demanded the immediate return of their sister as part of the negotiations. In fact, they seem to fully acknowledge that she had mobility because they say “If you do not comply with our demand of circumcision we shall take our daughter and depart” (Gen. 34:17). Furthermore, if it had been so important to the brothers that Dinah remain within Jacob’s household, then why did they allow her to go out all by herself in the first place? (Zlotnick, pp.36-7). Without sexual assault, it would be reading too much into the text to assume that Shechem detained, abducted or imprisoned her. We should also not jump to the conclusion that Shechem was somehow menacing because he didn’t send Dinah back to her family to await the outcome of the negotiations. It is equally plausible that Dinah didn’t want to return to her family.
Regardless of whether Dinah was raped or not, “Dinah herself is marginalized in the account. The entire episode is narrated from a male perspective… The emotions which Dinah might be expected to have felt (rage, hatred, disgust) are ascribed to her brothers, but their anger is occasioned not so much by the suffering and humiliation endured by their sister as by the shame and disgrace which had befallen their family…” (Davies, p.56). Only the men are allowed to speak.
Most feminist writers infer from Dinah’s loss of voice that she also lost her identity. “Silence is the opposite of discourse and communication, and losing one’s voice is indeed losing one’s identity and sense of belonging” (Sheres, p.115). I disagree. Just because the narrator did not give Dinah a voice doesn’t mean that she lost her sense of self or place within society. She only disappears if we assume that she had no emotional responses or personal traits. We are beginning to learn that through the ages women have made major contributions to civilization even though the vast majority of women’s history has not been recorded. As women reclaim their voices we can “imagine what our foremothers, like Dina, might have said, if only they had spoken” (Umanksy, p.33). Her words were not recorded but that does not mean that she did not speak up and have an opinion of her own.
“…and every male was circumcised, all who went out of the gate of his city. On the third day, when they were still in pain, two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, took their swords and came against the city unawares, and killed all the males… All their wealth, all their little ones and their wives, all that was in the houses, they capture and made their prey.” Genesis 34:24-25, 29
Many have speculated what the real reason for the brothers’ violence might have been. Perhaps, 1) a preemptive strike against the Hivites because they suspected them of treachery; 2) a belief that the devaluation of their sister represented a hostile display tantamount to a declaration of war; 3) for the purposes of securing the Jacobites as a distinct entity from the Hivvite community at any cost; or 4) to seize the property and goods of Shechem for economic gain.
Pitt-Rivers analyzes the story from an anthropological point of view and concludes that Genesis 34 is a reflection of the point in time in which the Israelites had became large and powerful enough to no longer need to cooperate and share women with the neighboring peoples. By taking the foreign women the brothers established their dominance.
The “effect of such a strategy is of course to increase their numbers in the future and thus their political power–‘sons are guns’–which in turn enables them to acquire more foreign women… while avoiding the risks to their honour involved in giving daughters away…those who receive most women expand fastest and attain a position of domination” (Pitt-Rivers, p.166).
The thinking here is that although the Hivites had already willingly offered their women to Jacob’s family, equality with the people of Shechem was not acceptable. In a shame-based culture, there are only two ways to respond to the taking of one of its women. “One rests with the girl’s lover, who can demonstrate that he and his family intend no dishonor to the girl’s family by offering a very large bride-price. The other rests with the girl’s kinsmen, who can conduct a reprisal raid to show that the men can protect their boundaries” (Frymer- Kensky, Reading, p.190). Regardless of the true reason for the brothers’ rejection of the Hivite offer, once they made their decision, they believed that a mass killing of the men of Shechem was the only way to restore their honor.
“Ironically, if there is a rape in this story, it is Simeon and Levi who ‘rape’ the Shechemites. It is their behavior that is violent and hostile, carried out for the purposes of exploitation. It creates the illusion of dominance, control and superiority, in order to silence their feelings of vulnerability and inferiority” (Bechtel, What If, p.34).
The brothers’ decision to act violently eliminated their sister’s freedom to act on her own behalf. A woman labeled as defiled was doomed to a life of disgrace with no prospects of marriage. By “slaying Shechem, Dinah’s vengeful brothers deny Dinah even the possibility of marriage and thus condemn her to a life of solitude and loneliness” (Kirsch, p.84). Graetz notes that according to Deuteronomy, the brothers were wrong to take away her only chance of marriage (p.308). Rather than restoring justice, they eliminated their stigmatized sister from the narrative.
Jacob’s Subsequent Response
“Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, ‘You have brought trouble on me by making me odious to the inhabitants of the land…” Genesis 34:30
As readers we have no idea whether the brothers’ act of violence was approved by God. Obviously Jacob did not approve of his sons’ decision to avenge their sister. On his deathbed Jacob appeared to still be holding a grudge against Levi and Simeon for their violence. Was this the narrator’s way of helping us interpret this story? Levi was later singled out for the special honor of holding the priestly offices and therefore the progenitor of the tribe seemed to be held blameless. Does this mean that we are to find Simeon and Levi to be the heroes of the narrative? Kugel describes the narrative as an exercise in “studied neutrality” since we are not given a clue whether the brothers “are to be regarded as heroes or foolish hotheads, nor, for that matter, is there even any clear condemnation of Shechem himself” (Kugel, pp.233-4).
Later in Deuteronomy the Hivites are listed as a nation with whom the Israelites are to not intermarry with and to whom no mercy should be shown on the pain of death (Deut. 7:1-4; cf. Ex. 34:11-16). However, since the brothers didn’t read Deuteronomy it is a mistake to conclude that the Genesis stories contain the same polemics against exogamy shown in the later text. The story certainly contains enough ambiguities to keep scholars busy!
The Brothers’ Last Words
“But they said, ‘Should our sister be treated like a whore?” Genesis 34:31
Again, there are a variety of explanations for what Levi and Simeon meant by referring to Dinah as a whore. Some conclude that this is the final clue that Dinah was raped because Shechem must have mistook her for a prostitute.
If “he truly believed that she was a prostitute, why did he and his father go to such extreme lengths to secure her family’s permission before marrying her?…Had Shechem really believed that he had fallen in love with such a woman, he would therefore not have felt it necessary to seek the consent of her male kin before marrying her…The elaborate proposition offered by Shechem and his father to Dinah’s family in vv. 8-12, including the young prince’s offer of a bride price and bridal gift in keeping with normative marriage protocol (vv. 11-12), as well as his eagerness to undergo the painful procedure of circumcision (v.19), strongly suggest that Shechem was fully aware that the woman whom he sought to wed was still regarded as the sexual property of her father and was thus by no means a prostitute” (Blyth, pp.181-183).
So again, we have no evidence of sexual abuse. But what if Shechem knew she wasn’t a prostitute, but he treated her as if she was? “Prostitutes engage in sexual intercourse for financial gain, and their sexual actions involve mutual consent. Rape therefore does not characterize either prostitution or what has happened to Dinah…[Her brothers] are not suggesting that she was raped” (Bechtel, Dinah, p.70). What the brothers were suggesting is that by not responding violently, it would be as if Dinah had been treated as a whore. They were insisting that her sexual power had to be regulated because it was dangerous if it was made available outside of the family group. “In their perspective, the issue is trivialized and delegated to the realm of private, family concerns that may have only a very limited impact” (Sheres, p.109). Getting in the last word on the matter, the brothers claimed that what they did was entirely appropriate.
The last we hear of Dinah is that she was among those who immigrated with Jacob to Egypt.
Assuming that, as the only named daughter of Jacob, she was the most significant woman of her generation, she was in line to become the next matriarch after Leah and Rachel (Zlotnick, p.48). Brenner finds traces in the text which indicate that Dinah was destined to be a mother of a tribe. She notes that her name is derived from the root meaning ‘to judge’, the same root her half-brother Dan’s name was derived from. Brenner speculates that with the removal of Dinah from the story, the narrator then created the tribe of Dan as a replacement (Brenner, I Am, p. 45). I find this highly speculative. However, the underlining assumption that Dinah played an important role within the Jacobite community does seem convincing given the prominence her story plays within the biblical text.
Dinah’s narrative is one of the first glimmers of the Bible’s growing nationalistic agenda. This ideology places the possession of the land and domination above humanistic values. Dinah, on the other hand, represents the opposite agenda, one of inclusion and sharing (Sheres, p.8). She tried to steer her family away from a violent confrontation by going out and making contact with the neighbors.
“Since she was heading in the direction of socialization and cooperation, since she was curious about ‘the daughters of the land,’ she was willing, in Buber’s terms, to ‘become a self with the other.’ Indeed, Dinah could serve as a model for many Israeli women who struggle to form a coherent political, pacifistic group with an agenda of Palestinian accommodations” (Sheres, p.18).
Just as the Israelites came to think of the Canaanites as a corrupt people defiling the land, many so-called Zionists assume that they have returned to a land inhabited by Palestinians who must be sacrificed to cleanse the land. In contrast, Dinah defied the system that called for the extermination of the aboriginal dwellers in the land. Like the peace seekers willing to talk to the Palestinians, Dinah posed a political threat to those who wanted the land all to themselves.
Later, Deuteronomy will codify how the Canaanites were to be treated: “Utterly exterminate them! Make no treaty with them! Have no pity on them! Do not intermarry with them! Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons!” (Deut. 7:2-3). Settlers in the West Bank use the same language to justify their violent attacks against the Palestinians. As Sheres observes, the “echoes of the brothers avenging the ‘rape’ of their sister thus reverberate over the ages” (p.114). In honor of Dinah, let us “become a self with the other” and reach out to those who seem unlike us. In so doing, Dinah’s voice will at last be heard.
For Further Reading
Archer, L.J. – Her Price is beyond Rubies: The Jewish Woman in Graeco-Roman Palestine. Journal for the Study of Old Testament, suppl. Vol 60 (Sheffield: Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Press, 1990).
Aschkenasy, Nehama – Eve’s Journey: Feminine Images in Hebraic Literary Tradition (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1986)
Bader, Mary Anna – Sexual Violence in the Hebrew Bible: A Multi- Methodological Study of Genesis 34 and 2 Samuel 13. Studies in Biblical Literature 87 (New York: Peter Lang, 2006)
Bailey, Clinton – “How Desert Culture Helps Us Understand the Bible: Bedouin Law Explains Reaction to Rape of Dinah” Bible Review 7, no. 4 (June 1991) 14-21, 38
Bechtel, Lyn M. – “Dinah,” in Meyers, Carol, Toni Craven and Ross S. Kraemer, eds., Women in Scripture: A Dictionary of Named and Unnamed Women in the Hebrew Bible, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2000)
Bechtel, Lyn M. – “What if Dinah Is Not Raped?” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 62 (1994) 19-36.
Blyth, Caroline – The Narrative of Rape in Genesis 34: Interpreting Dinah’s Silence (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010)
Brenner, Athalya – I am: Biblical Women Tell their Own Stories (Fortress Press, 2004)
Camp, Claudia V. – Wise, Strange and Holy: The Strange Woman and the Making of the Bible. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament: Supplement Series 320. (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000)
Davidson, Richard M. – Flame of Yahweh: Sexuality in the Old Testament (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 2007)
Davies, Eryl W. – The Dissenting Reader: Feminist Approaches to the Hebrew Bible (Aldershot, Eng.: Ashgate, 2003)
Fewell, Danna Nolan and David M. Gunn – Gender, Power, and Promise: The Subject of the Bible’s First Story (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1993)
Fewell, Danna Nolan and David M. Gunn – “Tipping the Balance: Sternberg’s Reader and the Rape of Dinah” Journal of Biblical Literature 110 (1991) 193-211.
Fischer, Georg – “Die Redewendung [Hebrew] in AT-Ein Beitrag zum Verstandnis von Jes 40,2,” Biblica 65 (1984) 244-50.
Fleishman, Joseph – “Shechem and Dinah– In the Light of Non-Biblical and Biblical Sources” Zeitschrift fur die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 116 (2004) 12-32
Freedman, David Noel – “Dinah and Shechem, Tamar and Amnon” Austin Seminary Bulletin 105 (1990): 51-63
Frymer-Kensky, Tikva S. – In the Wake of the Goddesses: Women, Culture and the Biblical Transformation of Pagan Myth (New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1992)
Frymer-Kensky, Tikva S. – Reading the Women of the Bible: A New Interpretation of their Stories (New York: Schoken Books, 2002)
Frymer-Kensky, Tivah – “Sex and Sexuality,” The Anchor Bible Dictionary, David Noel Freedman, ed. (New York: Doubleday, 1992)
Fuchs, Esther – Sexual Politics in Biblical Narrative: Reading the Hebrew Bible as a Woman (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000)
Geller, Stephen A. – “The Sack of Shechem: The Use of Typology in Biblical Covenant Religion” Prooftexts 10 (1990), 1-15.
Graetz, Naomi – “Dinah the Daughter” in Athalya Brenner, ed., A Feminist Companion to Genesis. (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993) 306-17.
Jeansonne, Sharon Pace – The Women of Genesis: From Sarah to Potiphar’s Wife (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1990)
Keefe, Alice A. – “Rapes of Women/Wars of Men” Semeia 61 (1993) 79-97.
Kirsch, Jonathan – The Harlot by the Side of the Road (Ballantine Books, 1998)
Kugel, James L. – The Bible as it Was (Belknap Press, 1999)
Leeb, Carolyn S. – Away from the Father’s House: The Social Location of na’ar and na’arah in Ancient Israel. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament: Suppleent Series 301. (Sheffield, Eng.: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000)
Noble, Paul – “A ‘Balanced’ Reading of the Rape of Dinah: Some Exegetical and Methodological Observations” Biblical Interpretation 4 (1996) 173-203.
Parry, Robin – “Feminist Hermeneutics and Evangelical Concerns: The Rape of Dinah as a Case Study” Tyndale Bulletin 53 (2002) 1-28.
Phillips, Anthony – “Nebalah–a Term for Serious Disorderly and Unruly Conduct” Vetus Testamentum 25 (1975) 237-42.
Pitt-Rivers, J. – The Fate of Shechem or the Politics of Sex: Essays in the Anthropology of the Mediterranean (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977)
Pressler, Carolyn – “Sexual Violence and Deuteronomic Law” in A Feminist Companion to Exodus to Deuteronomy, (Series 1), Athalya Brenner, ed. Feminist Companion to the Bible 6. (Sheffield, Eng.: Sheffield Academic Press, 1994), 102-12.
Sandmel, Samuel – The Hebrew Scriptures (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978)
Sarna, Nahum M. – Genesis: The Traditional Hebrew Text with the New JPS Translation (The Jewish Publication Society, 2001)
Scholz, Susanne – Sacred Witness: Rape in the Hebrew Bible (London/New York: T&T International, 2007)
Sheres, Ita – Dinah’s Rebellion: A Biblical Parable for Our Time (Crossroad, 1990)
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