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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible

Dinah

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DINAH . The daughter of Jacob by Leah, and sister of Simeon and Levi, according to Genesis 30:21 .

This verse appears to have been inserted by a late redactor perhaps the one who added the section Genesis 46:8-27 (cf. Genesis 46:15 ). Nothing is said in Genesis 29:31 to Genesis 30:24 , Genesis 35:16 ff., where the birth stories of Jacob’s children are given, of other daughters of Jacob; but Genesis 37:35 (J [Note: Jahwist.] ) and Genesis 46:7 (P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] ) speak of ‘all his daughters.’ P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] , moreover, clearly distinguishes between his ‘daughters’ and his ‘daughters-in-law.’

In Genesis 34:1-31 we have a composite narrative of the seizure of Dinah by the Hivite prince, Shechem, the son of Hamor. The probable remnants of J [Note: Jahwist.] ’s story make it appear that the tale, as it was first told, was a very simple one. Shechem took Dinah to his house and cohabited with her, and her father and brothers resented the defilement. Shechem, acting on his own behalf, proposed marriage, promising to accept any conditions of dower her father and brothers might impose. The marriage took place, and afterwards her full brothers, Simeon and Levi, slew Shechem and took Dinah out of his house. Jacob rebuked them for this, because of the vengeance it was liable to bring upon his house. Jacob thinks only of consequences here. If, as is generally supposed, Genesis 49:5 ff. refers to this act, the reprimand administered was based by him not upon the dread of consequences, but upon the turpitude of a cruel revenge.

The remaining verses of ch. 34 make Hamor spokesman for his son. He not only offered generously to make honourable amends for Shechem’s misconduct, but also proposed a mutual covenant of general intercourse, including the connubium . Jacob and his sons see their opportunity for revenge, and refuse, except upon the one condition that all the males of the city be circumcised. When, as a result, the latter were unable to defend themselves, all the sons of Jacob fell upon them with the sword, sparing only the women and children, whom they took captive with the spoil of the city. The words ‘two of’ and ‘Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brethren’ in Genesis 34:25 are interpolated (cf. Genesis 34:13 ). This story is clearly an elaboration of the earlier form, despite its one or two more antique touches, and suggests, moreover, the spirit at work in Ezra’s marriage reforms.

The story, like many others, introduced as episodes in the family history of Jacob, should probably receive a tribal interpretation. Simeon and Levi are tribes. Dinah was perhaps a small Israelite clan, according to the traditions closely related to Simeon and Levi; according to the name, possibly more closely to Dan. Schechem, the prince, is the eponymous hero of the city of that name. Hamor is the name of the Hivite clan in possession of the city. The weak Israelite clan, having become detached from the related tribes, was overpowered by the Canaanite inhabitants of Shechem and incorporated. Simeon and Levi, by a wilily plotted and unexpected attack, hoped to effect its deliverance. They were momentarily successful, and inflicted a severe blow upon the Shechemites; but their temerity cost them their tribal existence. A counterattack of the Canaanites resulted immediately in the decimation of the tribe, and finally in the absorption of their remnants into the neighbouring tribes. The Dinah clan disappeared at the same time.

James A. Craig.


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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Dinah'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hdb/d/dinah.html. 1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, October 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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