The Ladder of Jacob: Ancient Interpretations of the Biblical Story of Jacob and His Children

By James L. Kugel | Go to book overview

Chapter Three
THE RAPE OF DINAH,
AND SIMEON AND LEVI'S REVENGE

The story of Jacob's only daughter, Dinah, is contained n chapter 34 of Genesis. The narrative begins with brutal frankness:

Dinah, the daughter that Leah had borne to Jacob, once went out to visit
he [other] girls of the land. But she was spotted by Shechem, the son of
amor the Hivite, chief of that country, and he seized her and forced her to
ie with him.1 [Afterwards,] being taken with Dinah, Leah's daughter, he
cted lovingly towards her and spoke to her tenderly. Then he said to his
ather Hamor, “Get this girl for me as a wife.” (Gen. 34:1–4)

What happens in the ensuing verses does not seem to reflect very well n any of the figures involved. The rapist's father, Hamor, does indeed pproach Jacob and seek to contract a marriage, but Dinah's brothers are enraged at the proposal. Instead of simply refusing, however, they ell Hamor that the marriage proposal will be acceptable only if the ridegroom and all the other males of the city first undergo circumcision. hey agree, and all are circumcised in a single day. Three days later, when the men of the city are at the height of their disablement and ain, Dinah's two brothers, Simeon and Levi, enter the city stealthily and ill all the men. Jacob, apparently taken aback at their action, reproves hem, but they reply, “Should our sister be treated like a whore?”

-36-

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