Genesis 34:1–18

34  1 Dinah, Leah’s daughter borne to Jacob, went out to see the women of the land. Shechem, son of Hamor, the Hivite, and the country’s prince, saw her, took her, lay with her, and forced her. His life-breath clung to Dinah, Jacob’s daughter, and he loved the young woman and spoke to the heart of the girl. Shechem said to Hamor, his father, “Take me this girl for a wife.” Jacob heard that Shechem had defiled Dinah, his daughter. His sons were with the livestock in the fields, and Jacob kept silent until they returned. Hamor, Shechem’s father, came out to Jacob to speak with him. Jacob’s sons came back from the countryside when they heard what had happened. They were pained and deeply offended and very angry because Shechem had disgraced Israel by sleeping with Jacob’s daughter. Such things ought not be done.
     Hamor said to them, “Shechem, my son, his life-breath longs for your daughter. Pray, give her to him as a wife. Ally with us through marriage; give your daughters to us and take our daughters for yourselves. 10 Settle among us. The land is before you; settle in it, travel through it, and obtain holdings in it.”
     11 Shechem said Dinah’s father and brothers, “Let me find favor in your eyes; whatever you say you want, I will give it to you. 12 Name the bride-price and clan-gift as large as you like, and I will pay whatever you tell me. Only give me the young woman as a wife.”
     13 The sons of Jacob responded deceitfully to Shechem and Hamor, his father, because Shechem had defiled Dinah, their sister. 14 They said to them, “We cannot do this, to give our sister to a man who has a foreskin. That would disgrace us.15 We will only agree to do this if you will be like us and have every male among you circumcised. 16 Then we will give our daughters to you, and we will take your daughters for ourselves, and we will live with you and be one people. 17 But if you do not listen to us and become circumcised, we will take our daughter and go.”
     18 Their words seemed good in the eyes of Hamor and Shechem, son of Hamor.

It has been awhile since we’ve heard about Dinah. No longer is she known as Laban’s only granddaughter. At Shechem, Dinah is but an immigrant’s daughter—ripe for rape.

In quick order, we hear of Hamor (meaning ‘donkey’), the leading man and perhaps founder of Shechem, and his privileged son from whom the city has its name, Shechem. This will bring the story of Dinah directly to Jacob and his sons.

The story begins with a dramatic laying down of verbs: saw, took, lay with, abused/raped. These are Shechem’s actions toward Dinah.

Jacob was alone when he heard how Dinah had been taken advantage of. His sons were afield. He kept silent until their return. We don’t hear about Jacob’s wives.  Even Leah, Dinah’s mother, may have had this information kept from her.

While Jacob was awaiting his sons, the story claims a moral twist from abuse to love when Hamor’s son, Shechem, asked for Dinah as a beloved wife. Hurt and attempted make-up for the hurt is a well-known cycle of abuse. Other danger signs are present with Shechem’s calling Dinah a girl, not a woman, and getting the powers-that-be to intercede on his behalf. Hamor does come to talk father-to-father, if not ruler-to-immigrant, to make right this harm. With the return of Jacob’s sons, Hamor speaks to the gathered clan.

The storyteller belatedly lets us know that Shechem has been off to the side all along. We learn of his presence when he affirms Hamor’s offer of a bride-price and even increases the offer from a strictly economic trade to an open-ended offer to any arrangement that is set on his desire for Dinah. Echoes of Jacob/Rachel/Laban may surface here.

The sons of Jacob, the duplicitous, respond as his sons.

The terms are set based on tribal identity—not those of commerce per the city of Shechem, but those of Jacob, acculturating the Shechemites by way of their acceptance of circumcision. Hamor and Shechem agree to this resolution and leave to make arrangements.

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