Dinah and the Shechemites
1 Now Dinah, Leah’s daughter whom she bore to Jacob, went to meet#tn Heb “went out to see.” The verb “to see,” followed by the preposition בְּ (bÿ), here has the idea of “look over.” The young girl wanted to meet these women and see what they were like. the young women#tn Heb “daughters.” of the land. 2 When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, who ruled that area, saw her, he grabbed her, forced himself on her,#tn Heb “and he took her and lay with her.” The suffixed form following the verb appears to be the sign of the accusative instead of the preposition, but see BDB 1012 s.v. שָׁכַב. and sexually assaulted her.#tn The verb עָנָה (’anah) in the Piel stem can have various shades of meaning, depending on the context: “to defile; to mistreat; to violate; to rape; to shame; to afflict.” Here it means that Shechem violated or humiliated Dinah by raping her. 3 Then he became very attached#tn Heb “his soul stuck to [or “joined with”],” meaning Shechem became very attached to Dinah emotionally. to Dinah, Jacob’s daughter. He fell in love with the young woman and spoke romantically to her.#tn Heb “and he spoke to the heart of the young woman,” which apparently refers in this context to tender, romantic speech (Hos 2:14). Another option is to translate the expression “he reassured the young woman” (see Judg 19:3, 2 Sam 19:7; cf. NEB “comforted her”). 4 Shechem said to his father Hamor, “Acquire this young girl as my wife.”#tn Heb “Take for me this young woman for a wife.” 5 When#tn The two disjunctive clauses in this verse (“Now Jacob heard…and his sons were”) are juxtaposed to indicate synchronic action. Jacob heard that Shechem#tn Heb “he”; the referent (Shechem) has been specified in the translation for clarity. had violated his daughter Dinah, his sons were with the livestock in the field. So Jacob remained silent#sn The expected response would be anger or rage; but Jacob remained silent. He appears too indifferent or confused to act decisively. When the leader does not act decisively, the younger zealots will, and often with disastrous results. until they came in.
6 Then Shechem’s father Hamor went to speak with Jacob about Dinah.#tn Heb “went out to Jacob to speak with him.” The words “about Dinah” are not in the Hebrew text, but are supplied in the translation for clarity. 7 Now Jacob’s sons had come in from the field when they heard the news.#tn Heb “when they heard.” The words “the news” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons. They#tn Heb “the men.” This sounds as if a new group has been introduced into the narrative, so it has been translated as “they” to indicate that it refers to Jacob’s sons, mentioned in the first part of the verse. were offended#tn The Hebrew verb עָצַב (’atsav) can carry one of three semantic nuances depending on the context: (1) “to be injured” (Ps 56:5; Eccl 10:9; 1 Chr 4:10); (2) “to experience emotional pain; to be depressed emotionally; to be worried” (2 Sam 19:2; Isa 54:6; Neh 8:10-11); (3) “to be embarrassed; to be insulted; to be offended” (to the point of anger at another or oneself; Gen 6:6; 45:5; 1 Sam 20:3, 34; 1 Kgs 1:6; Isa 63:10; Ps 78:40). This third category develops from the second by metonymy. In certain contexts emotional pain leads to embarrassment and/or anger. In this last use the subject sometimes directs his anger against the source of grief (see especially Gen 6:6). The third category fits best in Gen 34:7 because Jacob’s sons were not merely wounded emotionally. On the contrary, Shechem’s action prompted them to strike out in judgment against the source of their distress. and very angry because Shechem#tn Heb “he”; the referent (Shechem) has been specified in the translation for clarity. had disgraced Israel#tn Heb “a disgraceful thing he did against Israel.” by sexually assaulting#tn Heb “by lying with the daughter of Jacob.” The infinitive here explains the preceding verb, indicating exactly how he had disgraced Jacob. The expression “to lie with” is a euphemism for sexual relations, or in this case, sexual assault. Jacob’s daughter, a crime that should not be committed.#tn Heb “and so it should not be done.” The negated imperfect has an obligatory nuance here, but there is also a generalizing tone. The narrator emphasizes that this particular type of crime (sexual assault) is especially reprehensible.
8 But Hamor made this appeal to them: “My son Shechem is in love with your daughter.#tn Heb “Shechem my son, his soul is attached to your daughter.” The verb means “to love” in the sense of being emotionally attached to or drawn to someone. This is a slightly different way of saying what was reported earlier (v. 3). However, there is no mention here of the offense. Even though Hamor is speaking to Dinah’s brothers, he refers to her as their daughter (see v. 17). Please give her to him as his wife. 9 Intermarry with us.#tn Heb “form marriage alliances with us.”sn Intermarry with us. This includes the idea of becoming allied by marriage. The incident foreshadows the temptations Israel would eventually face when they entered the promised land (see Deut 7:3; Josh 23:12). Let us marry your daughters, and take our daughters as wives for yourselves.#tn Heb “Give your daughters to us, and take our daughters for yourselves.” In the translation the words “let…marry” and “as wives” are supplied for clarity. 10 You may live#tn The imperfect verbal form has a permissive nuance here. among us, and the land will be open to you.#tn Heb “before you.” Live in it, travel freely in it,#tn The verb seems to carry the basic meaning “travel about freely,” although the substantival participial form refers to a trader (see E. A. Speiser, “The Verb sh£r in Genesis and Early Hebrew Movements,” BASOR 164 : 23-28); cf. NIV, NRSV “trade in it.” and acquire property in it.”
11 Then Shechem said to Dinah’s#tn Heb “her”; the referent (Dinah) has been specified in the translation for clarity. father and brothers, “Let me find favor in your sight, and whatever you require of me#tn Heb “whatever you say.” I’ll give.#tn Or “pay.” 12 You can make the bride price and the gift I must bring very expensive,#tn Heb “Make very great upon me the bride price and gift.” The imperatives are used in a rhetorical manner. Shechem’s point is that he will pay the price, no matter how expensive it might be. and I’ll give#tn The cohortative expresses Shechem’s resolve to have Dinah as his wife. whatever you ask#tn Heb “say.” of me. Just give me the young woman as my wife!”
13 Jacob’s sons answered Shechem and his father Hamor deceitfully when they spoke because Shechem#tn Heb “he”; the referent (Shechem) has been specified in the translation for clarity. had violated their sister Dinah. 14 They said to them, “We cannot give#tn Heb “we are not able to do this thing, to give.” The second infinitive is in apposition to the first, explaining what they are not able to do. our sister to a man who is not circumcised, for it would be a disgrace#tn The Hebrew word translated “disgrace” usually means “ridicule; taunt; reproach.” It can also refer to the reason the condition of shame or disgrace causes ridicule or a reproach. to us. 15 We will give you our consent on this one condition: You must become#tn Heb “if you are like us.” like us by circumcising#tn The infinitive here explains how they would become like them. all your males. 16 Then we will give#tn The perfect verbal form with the vav (ו) consecutive introduces the apodosis of the conditional sentence. you our daughters to marry,#tn The words “to marry” (and the words “as wives” in the following clause) are not in the Hebrew text, but are supplied in the translation for clarity. and we will take your daughters as wives for ourselves, and we will live among you and become one people. 17 But if you do not agree to our terms#tn Heb “listen to us.” by being circumcised, then we will take#tn The perfect verbal form with the vav (ו) consecutive introduces the apodosis of the conditional sentence. our sister#tn Heb “daughter.” Jacob’s sons call Dinah their daughter, even though she was their sister (see v. 8). This has been translated as “sister” for clarity. and depart.”
18 Their offer pleased Hamor and his son Shechem.#tn Heb “and their words were good in the eyes of Hamor and in the eyes of Shechem son of Hamor.” 19 The young man did not delay in doing what they asked#tn Heb “doing the thing.” because he wanted Jacob’s daughter Dinah#tn Heb “Jacob’s daughter.” The proper name “Dinah” is supplied in the translation for clarity. badly. (Now he was more important#tn The Hebrew verb כָּבֵד (kaved), translated “was…important,” has the primary meaning “to be heavy,” but here carries a secondary sense of “to be important” (that is, “heavy” in honor or respect). than anyone in his father’s household.)#tn The parenthetical disjunctive clause explains why the community would respond to him (see vv. 20-24). 20 So Hamor and his son Shechem went to the gate#sn The gate. In an ancient Near Eastern city the gate complex was the location for conducting important public business. of their city and spoke to the men of their city, 21 “These men are at peace with us. So let them live in the land and travel freely in it, for the land is wide enough#tn Heb “wide on both hands,” that is, in both directions. for them. We will take their daughters for wives, and we will give them our daughters to marry.#tn The words “to marry” are not in the Hebrew text, but are supplied in the translation for clarity. 22 Only on this one condition will these men consent to live with us and become one people: They demand#tn Heb “when every one of our males is circumcised.” that every male among us be circumcised just as they are circumcised. 23 If we do so,#tn The words “If we do so” are not in the Hebrew text, but are supplied in the translation for clarity and for stylistic reasons. won’t their livestock, their property, and all their animals become ours? So let’s consent to their demand, so they will live among us.”
24 All the men who assembled at the city gate#tn Heb “all those going out the gate of his city.” agreed with#tn Heb “listened to.” Hamor and his son Shechem. Every male who assembled at the city gate#tn Heb “all those going out the gate of his city.” was circumcised. 25 In three days, when they were still in pain, two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, each took his sword#tn Heb “a man his sword.” and went to the unsuspecting city#tn Heb “and they came upon the city, [which was] secure.” In this case “secure” means the city was caught unprepared and at peace, not expecting an attack. and slaughtered every male. 26 They killed Hamor and his son Shechem with the sword, took Dinah from Shechem’s house, and left. 27 Jacob’s sons killed them#tn Heb “came upon the slain.” Because of this statement the preceding phrase “Jacob’s sons” is frequently taken to mean the other sons of Jacob besides Simeon and Levi, but the text does not clearly affirm this. and looted the city because their sister had been violated.#tn Heb “because they violated their sister.” The plural verb is active in form, but with no expressed subject, it may be translated passive. 28 They took their flocks, herds, and donkeys, as well as everything in the city and in the surrounding fields.#tn Heb “and what was in the city and what was in the field they took.” 29 They captured as plunder#tn Heb “they took captive and they plundered,” that is, “they captured as plunder.” all their wealth, all their little ones, and their wives, including everything in the houses.
30 Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought ruin#tn The traditional translation is “troubled me” (KJV, ASV), but the verb refers to personal or national disaster and suggests complete ruin (see Josh 7:25, Judg 11:35, Prov 11:17). The remainder of the verse describes the “trouble” Simeon and Levi had caused. on me by making me a foul odor#tn In the causative stem the Hebrew verb בָּאַשׁ (ba’ash) means “to cause to stink, to have a foul smell.” In the contexts in which it is used it describes foul smells, stenches, or things that are odious. Jacob senses that the people in the land will find this act terribly repulsive. See P. R. Ackroyd, “The Hebrew Root באשׁ,” JTS 2 (1951): 31-36. among the inhabitants of the land – among the Canaanites and the Perizzites. I#tn Jacob speaks in the first person as the head and representative of the entire family. am few in number; they will join forces against me and attack me, and both I and my family will be destroyed!” 31 But Simeon and Levi replied,#tn Heb “but they said.” The referent of “they” (Simeon and Levi) have been specified in the translation for clarity. “Should he treat our sister like a common prostitute?”