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Fausset's Bible Dictionary


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The feminine of Dan ("judged", "averaged".) Jacob's daughter by Leah. After his return from Mesopotamia he pitched his tent in Shechem, and bought a field of Ham or, Shechem's father. Dinah, then at maturity between 13 and 15 years old, through her parents' remissness and her own love of sight seeing (she "went out to see the daughters of the land"), instead of being a "keeper at home" as young women ought to be (Titus 2:2), gave occasion to Shechem to "see" (contrast Job 31:1), and lust after, and defile her. Sin, shame, and death enter the soul through the windows of the eyes and ears (Genesis 39:7). Evil communications corrupt good manners. Fondness to see novelties, worldly fashions, and worldly company, ruin many. "It is the first step that costs." The laxity of Canaanite morals ought to have made both her parents and herself more on their guard.

Josephus (Ant. 1:21) states she went to a Canaanite annual festival of nature worship (compare Numbers 25:2). Young women are often led astray as much by their own sex as by the other. Shechem offered the usual reparation, marriage, and a payment to her father. This was sufficient Hebrew, according to Deuteronomy 22:28-29. But the offense was by an alien Hamor therefore proposed to establish intermarriage and commerce between the two peoples. But Simeon and Levi, her own brothers, eager for revenge, required the Circumcision of the Shechemites as a condition of union, a rite already known in Egypt as an act of priestly consecration; and when the feverish pain of the operation was at its height, on the third day, the two brothers, with their retainers, took cowardly advantage of their state, attacked, and killed all the males in the city. (See CIRCUMCISION.)

Their vindication of Israel's sacred calling, separated from the Gentiles, was right; and their refusal to sacrifice Jehovah's promises for the Hivite prince's offers of mammon was right. Seduction still is punished by death among the Arabs, generally inflicted by the brothers. "They were very angry, because lie had wrought folly in Israel," the phrase for offenses, especially carnal ones, against the honor and calling of the people of God (Deuteronomy 22:21; Judges 20:10; 2 Samuel 13:12). But the way they took was treacherous, cruel, and wicked. The innocent townsmen were punished with the one delinquent, and all the sons joined in plundering the town.

Jealousy for the high calling of Israel was made the plea for gross sin against the God of Israel. Jacob in reproving them lays stress only on the dangerous consequences of their crime, "ye have troubled me to make me to stink among the inhabitants of the land ... and ... being few ... they shall gather themselves and slay me," because it was the only argument that would weigh with his sons; but, his dying words show his abhorrence of their" cruelty" and "cursed anger" (Genesis 49:5-7). Nothing but Jehovah's special interposition saved him and them from the penalty; Genesis 35:5, "the terror of God was upon the cities ... round about them, and they did not pursue after the sons of Jacob."

God made this tragedy the occasion of reviving Jacob's earnestness, which had declined into worldliness for a time through his settlement near Shechem (Genesis 33:17-20); reminding him of his vow to make an altar at Bethel to God, who had appeared to him there in the day of his distress when fleeing from Esau. So his family gave up their strange gods and purified themselves, and Jacob went up to Bethel and fulfilled his heretofore forgotten vow. Thus, God overruled evil for good (Genesis 35:1-5).

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Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Dinah'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. 1949.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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