One of the hardest Bible study classes I have ever taught. I should’ve seen it coming. More than half the women in my class have been sexually violated at some point in their lives. The emotions were so raw, the heartache and tragedy unspeakable. It’s not something we can gloss over… and I couldn’t decide if we should stop class and all dissolve into a prayerful, sobbing mess – or go ahead and look at Genesis 34 in detail. Sigh. We have so much in common with Dinah.
Scripture does not reveal much about Dinah – why she went out to visit the women of the land or what kind of a young girl she was. In the end, we discover that the silence of scripture speaks volumes. She could be any of us. What was done to her was wrong and all the events leading up to the incident do not matter in the end.
God values women and we can see this in the Levitical law, which was very contrary to the “women are property” culture of that day. For the violated woman God’s law provided protection, care, and economic security for her for the rest of her life (Ex 22:16). Rape was akin to murder – “you have taken her life” – and the man received the death penalty (Deut 22:26). Innocent women were not punished, but were precious in the eyes of God. God seeks restoration and redemption – not the cycle of shame, blame, and reproach. “There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Rom 8:1).
We talked about Jacob’s failure to lead, how he was passive and lost control of his family.
We talked about Simeon and Levi, whose righteous anger (justified, wish Jacob had the same response!) became a point of sin for them. “In your anger, do not sin.” (Ps 4:4) We talked about how God hates lies and deceit and the treachery of the brothers’ promise of a covenant which they had no intention of fulfilling. We looked ahead to Genesis 49 where Simeon and Levi lose their inheritance for this act of treachery and violence.
We talked about “abduction marriages” which occasionally occur in some countries still today. Many thanks to an Ethiopian seminary professor who pointed this out!
And we talked about leaving the desire for justice and revenge in the hands of the Lord. For “Vengeance is mine, says the Lord, I will repay.” (Rom 12:19-20)
In the end, Dinah’s story is still a tragedy. There is no happy ending.
You can curse God and die, or trust God and live. – Jill Briscoe, ref. Job 2:9-10