Dinah

Everybody agreed that Jacob's daughter, Dinah, had something special about her.

She was off visiting friends in Canaan when young Shechem the Hivite was so dazzled that he couldn't control himself and took advantage of her. Considering the degree of the temptation, you could hardly blame him in a way, but when Dinah's brothers got wind of it, they hit the roof.

Shechem by this time had fallen head over heels in love, but even when he wanted to make an honest woman of her and came to beg Jacob for her hand in marriage, the brothers were not mollified. On the contrary, they felt he was only adding insult to injury.

Shechem would not take no for an answer. He said that if Jacob would give his permission, he would make it worth his while by arranging some advantageous trade agreements between their two tribes with some personal gifts of cash and real estate thrown in for good measure. It was the kind of offer Jacob always found hard to refuse, but at the urging of his sons, he agreed to make one more condition.

If Shechem wanted to marry a nice Jewish girl like Dinah, he said, then he and all his fellow tribesmen would have to get themselves circumcised. It was the custom. Shechem didn't find it the easiest thing in the world to sell his fellow tribesmen, but somehow he managed it, and that was the break Dinah's brothers had been waiting for.

While the Hivites were still recovering from surgery, the brothers appeared out of nowhere and mowed them down to the last Hivite. When Jacob chided them about it afterward, they seemed quite nonplussed. For Dinah's sake, who would have done less?

Dinah herself had done nothing except be who she was, which was the kind of woman men naturally want to die for or kill for, but that was enough. "Terrible as an army with banners" is the way Solomon describes beauty in his Song of Songs, and you picture her standing there with downcast eyes before her brothers' butchery, totally innocent of the knowledge that there were glittering battalions in her mildest smile and that if she wanted to take the world on single-handed, the world wouldn't stand a chance.

Genesis 34

 

~originally published in Peculiar Treasures and later in Beyond Words