The seduction of Dinah and the retaliation by her brothers is given to us as a five act play. Through this structure, the author cleverly links these tragic events to their greater significance within the “fivefold” Abrahamic Covenant.
As a literary unit, the story appears within the Oath/Sanctions step of the narrative cycle of Jacob (Genesis 27-36). At the beginning of this major cycle, Jacob steals the Succession blessing of Isaac. At the end of the cycle, Jacob is blessed by God, his Succession vindicated just before his father’s death. (See the chart on page 105 of Bible Matrix: An Introduction to the DNA of the Scriptures).
The Covenant-literary structure of the account of Dinah and Shechem (Genesis 33:18-34:31) is as follows:
Jacob finds rest at Shechem but Dinah is seduced.
Hamor and Shechem desire to unite with Jacob’s household.
The sons of Jacob deceive Hamor by making a false covenant.
Hamor presents the deal to his officials and they agree to it.
Simeon and Levi murder the king and his son and their brothers plunder the city.
Act I: Transcendence
- This narrative actually begins towards the end of chapter 33. Jacob is the initiator at Creation and the ruler at Testing.
- The city of Shechem was situated between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, the place where Abraham first entered Canaan (Genesis 12:6), and also where Israel entered the Land under the sound of the blessings and curses of the Covenant (Deuteronomy 11:29; . The placement of the name of the city at Division is a foreboding literary sign of what was to come: a bloody enmity between Jews and Gentiles whom God had put asunder.
- Setting the stage for this story of intermarriage with Canaanites, Paddan-aram is given a “bridal” significance at Maturity. Not only was it the birthplace of Dinah, but also of Rebecca (whom Abraham’s steward found for Isaac from among Abraham’s kin), and Rachel and Leah.
- The tent and city at Conquest/Atonement and Glorification/Booths are a clever construct alluding to the covering of the sins of the nations by the priesthood of Israel. For Israel, tent would always come before city because priesthood was the condition of true kingdom, just as it was for Adam.
- Like Abraham, Jacob purchased some land that had been promised to his offspring as a gift. Once again, this hints at the coming sin of Jacob’s sons in seizing before God’s time what God had promised. Like King David, Jacob himself purchased the site of worship (2 Samuel 24:18-25), dwelling among the nations without an inheritance just as the Levites would later dwell among the tribes of Israel.
- Shechem is now the “king” at the centre of the stanza, and the payment appears at the same point in the cycle as the money paid by Abraham to Ephron the Hittite (Maturity is the “plunder and plagues” step of the matrix, corresponding to the tribute paid for each soldier at Trumpets).
- The altar immediately set Jacob’s worship apart from the gods of the Canaanites, who not only did not travel from their set territories, but for whom intermarriage was a means of establishing alliances. We know from Abraham’s refusal of the plunder of the three kings (Genesis 14:21-22) and his refusal to take a wife for Isaac from among the Canaanites (Genesis 24:3-4), that any alliance would taint his ministry of evangelism among the nations. This ministry of the house of Abraham established an accountability to God which eventually rendered the Canaanites ripe for judgment under Joshua.
- This altar was set apart from Jacob’s other altars by the fact that it was named, possibly mentioned here because Division is the Exodus step.
- The Land and the womb, themes which tie this stanza to Genesis 3 and Genesis 15, were represented by the Bronze Altar and the Golden Table, and both correspond to Ascension in the Bible Matrix.
- It is usually the son as the firstborn on the altar, which speaks of meekness before heaven, that is, Priesthood. In this case it is the daughter on the altar, which speaks of Kingdom or “people.” James Jordan writes:
The very real male-chauvinistic character of Greek and Roman culture, which infects Western Civilization, has blinded us to the pervasive feminine imagery about humanity in the Bible. If God is Father, and God is Son, then what is humanity? Humanity is the Daughter. The Bible speaks of us as Daughter Zion, Daughter Jerusalem. It is a mistranslation of the Hebrew construction to read “Daughter of Zion.” Zion is the Daughter. Thus, we are the Daughter. The daughter-imagery in the Bible is wonderfully comforting, for it means that God will love us and protect us with the same kind of ferocious love that a good father has for his daughter.1James B. Jordan, “Broadening Our View of the Trinity,” Biblical Horizons 61, May 1994.
- Notice the “head and body” sacrificial metaphor in the symmetrical placement of the singular Israelite “daughter” and the Gentile “daughters.” This reminds us that Israel was set apart as one nation among many.
- Intermarriage of the priestly and kingly lines of Adam led to the end of mediation by sacrifice and the destruction of the world. Circumcision was introduced to prevent that from happening again. Intermarriage was only permitted if the Gentiles concerned joined the nation of Israel and became Israelites. Of course, the tables are turned in this account. In an ironic reversal, it is the daughter of Jacob who is desired as “fruit” by the sons of men, and the priestly “sons of God” who become the aggressors.
- Testing is the step of kingly discernment, corresponding to the seven “eyes” of the lampstand. In this stanza, the prince of Shechem selects Dinah from among the daughters of the Land in the way that God selected David from his brothers (1 Samuel 16:10-12) and Ahasuerus selected Esther from among the virgins of Persia (Esther 2:15-17). Structurally, the image is sacrificial: an animal without blemish chosen from among the herd as a qorban or “nearbringing.” In this way, Israel was selected from among the nations, Christ was identified from among the Jews as “the lamb of God,” and the “elect” were selected by Him, once enthroned, as a chosen people, the “most beautiful among women” (Song of Solomon 1:8). But the seduction of Dinah, like the “offering” of Eve to the serpent by Adam, would lead to the shedding of innocent human blood at the altar by spiritual Cainites.
- Taking many wives was a “kingly” sin, more for the purpose of quickly establishing a great dynasty rather than mere lust.2For more discussion on polygamy in the Bible, see “Big Love: A History of Stolen Fruit” in Michael Bull, Inquiétude: Essays for a People without Eyes.
- The Hebrew translated “seized” – which implies rape – means to take or capture but also means to obtain, to win, to buy, which implies that she was his “prize” or “plunder” from the moment he saw her.
And cleaved his soul (Genesis)
to Dinah, (Division)
the daughter of Jacob, (Ascension)
and he loved (Testing)
the maiden, (Maturity)
and spoke from his heart (Conquest)
to the maiden. (Glorification)
- Another Maturity theme is unity of spirit, pictured in the many-but-one imagery of flocks of birds, schools of fish (Day 5), and troops united by a central command. This “cleaving” of Shechem’s nephesh to Dinah and his honesty with her indicates that he did not actually “rape” Dinah, as does his later willingness to undergo the symbolic “death” of circumcision that he might marry her. After Tamar was deceived and raped by her half-brother Amnon (described using a Hebrew word which means to defile, oppress or humiliate), his subsequent hatred for her revealed his desire for her to be mere lust.
- The obvious “covenantal” structure of the stanza not only undergirds the intention of the author but prefigures the reunion of Jew and Gentile at the Maturity stage of Covenant history: the Firstfruits Church.
- The prince’s love was the thesis of the previous stanza, but now it is the expression of that love to his father as a kind of “oath.”
- Not only does Shechem use the same word to ask his father to “take, obtain, win, buy” Dinah for him (which obviously does not mean rape in this instance), it is placed once again at step 5 in the sequence.
- Dinah’s name does not appear in this stanza, but its placement at Oath/Sanctions is surely no coincidence since it means “vindicated.”
And Jacob heard
that he had defiled
Dinah his daughter.
and Jacob held his peace,
until they had come in.
- The first act began with Jacob symbolically “in the Garden” and it ends with Jacob “on the Throne.” Here he is the wise judge, a human elohim, who reserves his judgment until he knows all the facts (Proverbs 18:13, 17).
- “Defile” here is a different Hebrew word, meaning made unclean rather than humiliated.
- The sons of Jacob are the “kings” in this stanza, and the mention of them being with the livestock of the field perhaps casts them as Esaus, that is, vengeful, murderous and beastly brothers. The final line of this first act alludes to the feast of Booths, also known as Ingathering, a festival hosted by Jews for the sake of believing Gentiles. The irony is palpable.
Art: Dina and her brothers Simeon and Levi by Abel Pann.
If you are new to this method of interpretation, please visit the Welcome page for some help to get you up to speed.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||James B. Jordan, “Broadening Our View of the Trinity,” Biblical Horizons 61, May 1994.|
|2.||↑||For more discussion on polygamy in the Bible, see “Big Love: A History of Stolen Fruit” in Michael Bull, Inquiétude: Essays for a People without Eyes.|