Genesis 34:1- Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land. NKJV
It’s interesting to me how one simple choice or decision can change your life forever! Such was the case with Dinah.
Dinah was the seventh child of Jacob and Leah and their only daughter. As such, she was probably spoiled and sheltered by her family. I won’t stereotype her except to say that she probably didn’t have a lot of female interaction, being surrounded by so many brothers. Living next to Shechem, a city with families, with women, had to be a real draw for her. She decided to go looking for the females in the cities.
This seems like a normal thing for a young woman to do if she lives in today’s culture, but not during Dinah’s lifetime. Maybe she had begged her parents to take her to meet other young ladies, and they had refused to take her. Maybe her brothers were equally as stubborn in their refusal to introduce her to the women of the city. Whatever was the case, she went out on her own.
While she’s scoping out the land and looking for a way to interact with other females, Shechem sees her.
And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her and lay with her, and violated her.Genesis 34:2 NKJV
Shechem was a man probably used to getting what he wanted. Dinah was a young woman tired of being smothered by her parents and big brothers. It was a recipe for disaster! Some commentaries make it appear as if it was some type of rendevous, for they had to have known each other prior to this incident. We don’t know! But what we do know is that a visit to the city turned into a disaster for Dinah.
Shechem took Dinah into his bedchambers. The Hebrew rendering of the word suggests that it was by force. I am sure she was surprised at this turn of events, whether she knew him or not. True, he wasn’t a complete stranger to her and her family. Her father had done business with them, purchasing his land from Hamor, Shechem’s father. So she may have felt relatively safe venturing out amongst them. But when Shechem saw her unescorted, he took her. Then he sexually assaults her, as if she is a woman of ill repute and not the cherished daughter and sister he knew her to be. I doubt this was what she had gone looking for. One simple decision that seemed harmless has turned into a life-changing situation.
His soul was strongly attracted to Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the young woman and spoke kindly to the young woman. So Shechem spoke to his father Hamor, saying, “Get me this young woman as a wife.”Genesis 34:3-4 NKJV
The Bible states that Shechem loved the young woman. Maybe he had seen her during transactions and his interest in her developed. Maybe he even began to think that he was in love with her. But his decision to take her into his bedchamber and to have his way with her were not actions of a man in love. If he had thought about all that he was doing, of the potential harm to her or his family, he would have sought another way. But there are times when we are presented with something and we react with no real thoughts to the consequences. Two young people. Two rash decisions. Events are spiraling out of their control and Shechem decided to come up with a plan to fix it.
Word got back to Jacob that Shechem had defiled his daughter. We are told that Jacob held his peace, waiting on his sons to return from the fields. What? No gathering of the troops to get her back? No calling his sons from the fields to deal with this situation immediately? While he is pondering this in his heart, Hamor shows up to ask that Shechem be allowed to keep her as his wife.
“The soul of my son Shechem longs for your daughter. Please give her to him as a wife. And make marriages with us; give your daughters to us, and take our daughters to yourselves. So you shall dwell with us, and the land shall be before you. Dwell and trade in it, and acquire possessions for yourselves in it.”Genesis 34:8-10 NKJV
A wrong has been done towards Jacob’s daughter and they want to make a deal with him to cover it up. Give your daughters to us, they suggest, and take our daughters to yourselves. Dwell in our land and trade with us. Acquire possessions for yourselves. In other words, this can work out for all of our benefits!
But Jacob’s sons were furious! As Jacob should have been! This was a disgraceful thing that Shechem had committed to Dinah, and it should not have happened! How did it happen? Why did it happen?
Shechem obviously attended this meeting with Hamor, his father, because he jumps into the negotiations.
“Let me find favor in your eyes, and whatever you say to me I will give. Ask me ever so much dowry and gift, and I will give according to what you say to me; but give me the young woman as a wife.”Genesis 34:11-12 NKJV
The brothers come up with a plan, with the intent to pay them back for what happened to Dinah. They tell Shechem and his father that they cannot give Dinah’s hand in marriage to someone who is not circumcised. So Hamor and Shechem agree to become circumcised and convince the men in their town that it would be advantageous to them all to do the same. When they are in pain from the circumcision, Dinah’s brothers, Simeon and Levi, go in and kill all of them! And they take her home. And that’s the last we hear of her.
Dinah’s decision to go and visit the women in the city resulted in her being raped, and her brothers murdering the men in that town. Had she been able to see into the future, she probably would have stayed in the tent that day! Shechem’s decision to take her resulted in his death, and the deaths of his family and countrymen.
How many times have you heard a similar story, or experienced a similar situation? Some spur-of-the-moment decisions can reap blessings, but more often than not, they can wreak havoc on our lives. An innocent conversation at work leads to an affair, and that affair leads to the destruction of a family. A response to a friendly person online can lead to a situation like Dinah’s. An investment that looks like a sure thing can bring a loss of finances, causing financial hardship where there was security. And the list can go on and on.
How do we avoid these devastating moments in life? How can we be sure that we are not making the worst decision possible, even if it looks harmless? Solomon said it like this:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV
We are not wise enough to see the end results of all of our choices and actions, but God is. He knows how to lead us away from things that can devastate our lives. If we will pray before we make a decision and wait for His guidance, He will provide it. It’s His promise to us!
The Bible has many lessons that others have learned so that we don’t have to learn them. I’m all for learning from others’ mistakes, without having to make them myself! Take time to seek God about all of your decisions, big and small, so that you don’t have to live with regret for the rest of your life. Wonderful Jesus!