Jacob's family has moved to their new land. This is the place they will live, the land God has given to them to grow and thrive safe from threat of Esau.
Dinah, Jacob's daughter, goes to town to visit with other women. The prince of the area sees her, rapes her, and then wants to make her his wife. I'm not sure if Jacob is actually considering the marriage, but Dinah's brother's are furious and, in the end, what Jacob was thinking doesn't matter.
If we set aside, for a moment, that Dinah was raped, here is an interesting and very contemporary situation. Should a man who sees a beautiful woman be able to have sex with her, then declare his love, and then marry her? In today's world, although rape is still considered immoral (as it should be), the order of things has become: date a few times; have sex to judge compatibility; move in together to further judge compatibility; decide you love each other; get married.
Like you, I have been bombarded by the Tiger and Elin Woods saga and the Sandra Bullock and Jesse James saga. Part of me feels tremendous sympathy for these wronged wives, the other part of me wants to bop them over the head and say, "Were you sleeping with him before you got married? Had either of you ever denied yourself sexual fulfillment with other partners before you met? What made you think a ring would change any of that?" We have done a horrendous disservice to our children and nation by insisting kids are going to have sex anyway, we might as well teach them how to do it safely. The idea of exercising self control has completely flown out the window. Now wonder Tiger and Jesse felt free to have sex with whoever was available while separated from their wives.
Back to our story.
Shechem, who has "fallen passionately in love" with Dinah (and we aren't sure from the text if this is before or after he raped her) wants to marry her. He's willing to do anything...absolutely anything to make her his wife. Dinah's brother's trick him into consenting to be circumcised. I find that hilariously ironic. If this guy can't keep himself inside his own loin cloth, take it out and they will whack on it. (You didn't know Lorena Bobbet was Biblical, did you?) Not only Shechem, but the entire area is to be circumcised, and after every man is laid low from the pain (because, outside of the normal pain such a procedure would cause, I somehow think Jacob's sons were none too gentle while performing the operations) they come in and slaughter them.
To be honest, I am torn here. Dinah has been raped. Nothing is going to change that now. Her brother's take revenge without Jacob's consent. Jacob seems more ticked off about the boys ruining his peaceful future than Dinah's rape, the boys seem like they are spoiling for a fight with anyone and just wanted a good excuse to go on a rampage, and Shechem (the rapist) is the only one of this whole motley crew who seems to have Dinah's future in mind.
I can't help but wonder what Dinah wanted. No one asked; no one cared. She is simply damaged goods now, and she will never marry or have a future as a mother because of something she could not control. As a woman, I am less concerned than I probably should be with the theological meaning behind this passage. I am feeling for this young girl whose life has been ruined beyond repair. If nothing else, this passage demonstrates in violent clarity the devestating effects rape exacts. Imagine the scene, blood and torn flesh littering the countryside. It is visual into Dinah's soul. How do you best heal such a thing? Would Dinah have fared better in the end by marrying Shechem? Please, please understand me. I am not condoing rape here...not by a LONG shot. I am simply wondering what, if given the choice, Dinah wanted: revenge or a chance to be a wife.
In the end, the only thing I come away with from this passage is rape is a thing which ought not be done.
Until next time,