Genocide as Justice. Dinah gets Raped = Village gets Massacred

Simeon and Levi Slay Shechemites

Keeping with the disturbing trend of God’s idea of perfect justice comes the uplifting story of Dinah.  Now Dinah is the daughter of Leah and Jacob and apparently, the only girl in the family.  We don’t know for certain because of the Bible’s rather sexist propensity for not thinking women are important enough to mention.  For all we know there could be entire herds of Jacob’s daughters roaming the countryside in the background of this tale, but for whatever reason, this young woman is the only one mentioned.

So Dinah goes visiting some of the local women.  She just walking along when Shechem, the local chieftain’s son spies her and develops an evil lust in his heart… Well… Maybe not in the heart…

When Shechem, son of Hamor the Hivite, who was chief of the region, saw her, he seized her and lay with her by force.  Since he was strongly attracted to Dinah, daughter of Jacob, indeed was really in love with the girl, he endeavored to win her affection.  Shechem also asked his father Hamor, “Get me this girl for a wife.”

He is quite the sweetie, isn’t he?  He rapes a girl then during the act falls in love with her. Then tries to woo her and orders his father to get Dinah for his wife.  I’m pretty ignorant of local customs, but it seems he pretty much blew any courting etiquette when he ripped her clothes off and threw her to the ground.  Call me silly.

Jacob and his boys soon find out what has happened and they are furious.  Dinah has been defiled.  She must be avenged. Get this, though.  Shechem’s Father, Hamor comes to discuss a marriage proposal between his rapist son and defiled Dinah.  The boys find out their sister has been raped from the father of the rapist who is begging the family to let the rapist have her.  Wow!  This is such a different world.  Listen to his plea.

Hamor appealed to them, saying: “My son Shechem has his heart set on your daughter. Please give her to him in marriage. Intermarry with us; give your daughters to us, and take our daughters for yourselves.  Thus you can live among us. The land is open before you; you can settle and move about freely in it, and acquire landed property here.”  Then Shechem, too, appealed to Dinah’s father and brothers: “Do me this favor, and I will pay whatever you demand of me.  No matter how high you set the bridal price, I will pay you whatever you ask; only give me the maiden in marriage.”

Jacob’s sons, clearly having gotten much of their father’s cunning, quickly threw together a brilliant plan of revenge.

“We could not do such a thing,” they said, “as to give our sister to an uncircumcised man; that would be a disgrace for us. We will agree with you only on this condition, that you become like us by having every male among you circumcised. Then we will give you our daughters and take yours in marriage; we will settle among you and become one kindred people with you. But if you do not comply with our terms regarding circumcision, we will take our daughter and go away.”

Their proposal seemed fair to Hamor and his son Shechem.

Really?   Perhaps, having the tip of your dick cut off with a sharp rock to get the woman you “love” may seem like a small price to pay for yourself.  But as for the rest of the village, I’m pretty sure  they’d show some reluctance to say the least.  Let’s see.  You want me to genitally mutilate myself with some sharpened obsidian so the obnoxious brat of the chieftain can get rewarded for committing rape.  Um… I think I’m going to have to say no. It just doesn’t seem fair.

Remarkably, Hamor and Shechem somehow manage to convince every male in the village to undergo this “procedure” and all simultaneously.  All I can say is they must have been quite the eloquent talkers.  I’d have a hard time talking myself into that agony to save my life.    By the way, if you want to see the single funniest rendition of this Biblical scene (or any other) please visit The Brick Testament.  It has most of the best Biblical stories illustrated with Lego. Absolutely brilliant!

Anyway,  the entire village endures a mass deforeskinification (my own term) and then everyone lies around for a few days to recover.  Ah, but a recovery is not to be.  On the third day while everyone is in agony, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s older brothers, enter city with swords drawn and kill every single male within.  They do not discriminate between guilty and innocent.  They just kill them all.  Anyone who ever laid eyes on young Shechem is butchered.  They take Dinah from Shechem’s house and the other brothers steal everything of any value and carry off the women and children as slaves.  The village of Hamor is left as a burned out shell with nothing alive.

Jacob was unhappy with this turn of events because he thought it would bring bad things down on the family’s heads, and you know, destroying an entire town has this effect.  Believe it or not, the neighboring towns look upon these actions with disfavor. They’ve even been know to hold a grudge.

Jacob said to Simeon and Levi: “You have brought trouble upon me by making me loathsome to the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites and the Perizzites. I have so few men that, if these people unite against me and attack me, I and my family will be wiped out.”

But the important thing here is that justice was done, God’s justice anyway.  I, as a human being, have a few teensy problems, so let’s go through them.  I have no problem with the deceiving of Hamor and Sons.  You rape my sister and lying will be the least of what I would do.  I also have little problem with the killing of Shechem. This man was a rapist and as Dinah was still in his house, likely a kidnapper.  Yes, there could have been other versions of this story: two star crossed lovers or some such.  But I am taking the most literal interpretation I can, so knowing Shechem died on the point of a sword does not discomfort me.  I understand there are people who would find this barbaric, but I am not one of them.  My concept of justice includes some harsher elements.  But it has to be justice.  That means punishing the guilty and sparing the innocent!

Starting with the butchery of Hamor, the retribution becomes increasingly unwarranted.  You conceivably could stretch the guilt of the son to include the father.  He tried to smooth it over, and tries to buy his boy’s way out of the crime and if Dinah was captive (The Bible really doesn’t state) then he should have a share of retribution on his head.  But that’s about as far as any modern sensibilities could possibly go.  Murdering every single man in the city is vengeance abhorrent, a disgrace on Yahweh, himself.  This is carrying the guilt to the innocent family and kin of those who have wronged you, and that is a genocide, pure and simple.  There is no justification that can be made for this.  But then to compound it by enslaving the women and children places this act among all those other atrocities humanity has committed through the ages. Genocide and enslavement as justice can only be wrong, but especially when it takes the innocent.  You cannot punish the group for the actions of the few, and I simply cannot put that into too strong of terms. Collective guilt is a barbarity we can no longer condone,   A god who will wipe out an entire city for Sodomy yet allow this behavior to stand in some of his pet people isn’t the god of justice.  He is merely hateful or capricious or vain.

Or nonexistent

And folks, I just gotta go with door number three!

    • Lisa
    • May 18th, 2010

    Glad you mentioned The Brick Testament. That’s another site I’ve regularly visited for a good Biblical laugh. Seeing the pictures with Legos makes the Bible really seem like a giant cartoon.

    Have you read “The Red Tent?” Great novel about this story – much different twist on Dina’s relationship with the man who defiled her. After being raped, she’s no good to anyone else and suffers a sad, lonely life. Of course, the Bible doesn’t say much about Dinah, so we’re left to wonder what happened to her.

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