As I have been reading through Genesis, I paused at chapter 34. If you recall, this is the Story of the defilement (rape) of Dinah. It also records the extreme response of her brothers who came to her defense. Why in the world is that in the Bible? Moses is recounting the history of God’s people and includes a very dark story for a purpose.
The previous chapter in Genesis records the reconciliation of Esau and Jacob. As a result, God’s people now seem to be on a safe path. The chapter following the story of Dinah tells of God’s favor upon Jacob and his name change to Israel. What is the story of Dinah doing in the middle of those two chapters?
K.A. Matthews makes some helpful observations on this chapter which I will summarize:
- The story in Genesis turns to the story of Jacob’s sons who become the 12 tribes of Israel.
- The shady character of Jacob’s sons becomes visible.
- Their moral weakness exposes that the promise of God through Abraham is once again in peril.
- God again shows that our salvation is based upon his gracious effort on our behalf. As Matthews says, “redemptive purposes survive the moral failures of the nation’s fathers.”
- Another good observation by the ESV Study Bible is
“While the rape of Dinah by Shechem is inexcusable, the punishment meted out by Simeon and Levi far exceeds the crime. While they are reluctant to acknowledge any fault on their part, Jacob is very conscious of how their actions have endangered his entire household.”
Father, this story of Dinah and her brothers starkly remind me of how corrupt Jacob and his sons were. This very dark story and her brothers misuse of circumcision for destruction rather than a blessing confirm that truth. Once again, you show us through inspiring Moses that our salvation and the promised Seed was dependent upon you and not our ability to make this happen. Our salvation is once again clearly dependent upon you and not us. Thank you for this reality. As a result, I can also have confidence in the surety of my salvation because you are the one who provided it!
Following Jesus with you,