Dinah’s story is very sad. To be honest, when I came to her, at first I wondered what I was going to write about. What can I say about Dinah? Should I skip her and move on to someone else? But then I thought, No, her story is here for a reason. Let’s find out what God wants us to learn.
And Dinah the daughter of Leah, which she bore unto Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land. And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her. And… he loved the damsel, and spake kindly unto the damsel. And Shechem spoke to his father Hamor, saying, “Get me this damsel to wife.” —Genesis 34:1-4
Dinah is the daughter of Leah and Jacob. She has six older brothers, the oldest of which are Simeon and Levi. One day when she is about thirteen years old, she goes out to visit with the other girls in the neighborhood. While she is out, a young man named Shechem sees her, takes a special interest in her, and spoils her virginity. He falls in love with her and wants to marry her right away, so he asks Dinah’s father and brothers for permission to marry her, offering whatever dowry they may require. This marriage will also form an alliance between their families. Jacob holds his peace because he is outnumbered, but Dinah’s brothers are furious that she was defiled. Nevertheless, they deceive Shechem and his father into pretending that they are agreeable to the arrangement. The only condition, they say, is that they cannot give their sister to anyone who has been uncircumcised. If he and all the men of the city will agree to be circumcised, then they will give him Dinah for his wife; but if not, they will take her and be on their way. Shechem loved Dinah so much that he said he would be glad to do this for her.
Shechem and his father went back to their city and gathered all the men together to tell them the news and to carry out their part of the obligation. Then on the third day after the circumcision, Simeon and Levi went through the city with their swords and killed all the men and boys. Dinah’s brothers would have been about 19 and 20 at this point, full of raging hormones and utterly lacking in judgment. Their younger brothers did not commit murder, but they did take part in pillaging the city after the men had been slaughtered. Then they took Dinah from Shechem’s house and left the city, taking a bunch of loot and captives with them as well. Jacob was mortified by his sons’ behavior, and of course, they had to move after this.
Romans 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.
So why is this story in the Bible? What can we learn? The more I look, the more I see.
- We need to protect our girls.
- Girls who have been raped are valued by God.
- Even children brought up in godly homes will do bad things.
- Sin has its consequences.
- God’s grace reaches the lowest of sinners.
We need to protect our girls.
Let’s face, folks, there are crazies out there in the world. Dinah was not safe thousands of years ago, and our daughters today need our protection too. Perhaps if one of her brothers had gone with her as an escort, the story would have been different. I know we can’t protect them from everything, but we can set reasonable limitations, such as curfews and making sure they have accountability buddies. And we as parents have a right and responsibility to know who our daughters’ friends are, who they spend time with online, on the phone, and in person.
Girls who have been raped are valued by God.
How do I know this? Well, first of all, her story is here, isn’t it? With her name included and everything. God didn’t sweep it under the rug. He didn’t hide it and pretend it never happened. We don’t know how she felt about the things that happened to her. Did Dinah consent or was she forced? Was she ashamed that she had been defiled? Did she want to marry Shechem afterward? Was she ashamed of what her brothers had done? What happened to her afterward? The Bible is silent about those details, but perhaps the silence only serves to make the story pertinent to more women’s situations. There are many, many girls and women who are hurting because of rape, incest, and other forms of sexual assault and abuse. They have experienced the full gamut of emotions as they went through their individual experiences, and because those details were left out of Dinah’s story, they can relate to her. Girls, God cared about Dinah, and He cares about you too, very much. Yes, He saw what happened—or sees what is happening. And no, He does not approve. Men do horrible things because of sin. This is not God’s will, but His grace is sufficient for every situation. Often women who have been sexually abused feel cheapened and worthless, but I want to tell you that you are precious in God’s sight.
Psalm 72:14 He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence: and precious shall their blood be in His sight.
Matthew 10:31 “Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.”
Even children brought up in godly homes will do bad things.
This goes without saying. We all know children from Christian homes who grew up to honor the Lord while others—even from the same family—went in the opposite direction and lived for the devil. The same could be said of people who grow up not ever hearing about God or reading the Bible. They may grow up to live a life of wickedness, or they may come to know the Lord as their Savior and become the most godly people you ever met. It’s not the upbringing that matters as much as the condition of the heart. When you stand before God at the end of your life, you will not give account for what your parents did or didn’t do, you will give account for your own actions. Children need to understand this, and so do the parents. Parents, you cannot rate your success or failure as a parent on how your children “turn out,” but on whether or not you did what the Lord told you through His Word.
Sin has its consequences.
Shechem defiled Dinah and then thought he could make it right by giving a good dowry to the family. But money cannot buy honor, and Shechem learned that the hard way. I am not condoning what Simeon and Levi did, for they did wrong, but it is true that when we sin, sooner or later we will suffer the consequences, and we don’t get to choose them.
God’s grace reaches the lowest of sinners.
The sons of Jacob did wrong in this horrible event. Simeon and Levi were the ringleaders, and they compounded their wickedness with murder, but their brothers participated in the rest and were also guilty before God. And yet all of them were included in the covenant promise. It took a very long time, but God is a very patient God, long-suffering, and not willing that any should perish. He does not work on our time-table, nor is He limited by the clock or calendar. Jacob’s sons would stoop lower yet, and just a short time later, when they sold their baby brother Joseph into slavery. But over the twenty years that ensued, God would work incessantly on their hearts, bringing them to the point of repentance. God is good like that. Whom do you know who needs the grace of God? Pray for him or her. I assure you that the Lord Jesus is already praying for them because He loves them more than you do. How do I know that Jesus is praying for them? Because He said so. It’s right here…
John 17:20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word.
Isn’t that something? Jesus prayed for all of us who have believed on Him through the Word of God, and He prays for all who still have yet to believe. Why don’t we join Him in prayer? And then why don’t we tell them the good news?
Next week: Bathsheba
Photo taken in Brevard, North Carolina, 2017