Thursday, March 10, 2011


We are currently going through Genesis in my local Community Bible Study and our leadership team just finished reading chapters 34-36. Genesis 34 is the story of the rape of Dinah and what comes from that. I've now read the story half a dozen times or so, and maybe half that in the last week. I am bothered by this story at a very deep level; one that I'm having a hard time trying to figure out why my reaction is so strong. Rape is never an easy topic, sure. It's sad what happened, absolutely. But why am I feeling so angry toward this story? I've never felt that before. I have said in the past that while I like the name Dinah (God has judged), I could never name a daughter that because of what happened to her.
Here's what I think: I think God is moving me to something bigger than I know. I don't know what that is at the moment, but I am angry. It makes me so, so sad that this girl is a mere footnote in the line of the Patriarchs. Here she is, important enough to be named as a descendant of Jacob, but not important enough to be thought of in the aftermath of her rape. Dinah goes out to meet with other women, and Shechem sees her, desires her, then violates her. There is no evidence that she did anything to bring this on- no mention that they knew each other before this encounter. He saw, he liked, he took. He then placated himself by realizing that he did, in fact, like her, and spoke tenderly to her afterward, and asked his father to ask Jacob for her hand. Just because he tried to make good, does not make his action any less reprehensible.
Jacob's sons hear about this and are filled with grief and fury, rightly so! This is the only time that there is any response that is fitting to the crime against this poor girl. In that grief and fury, they should have gone to her and processed with her, loved her, spoken quietly of the love of Yahweh to her. (I'm sure that's not how things worked in their culture, but someone should have done these things.) At this moment, Dinah needed her family to help her heal from her shame, not just avenge the wrong done to the family name. God deals with the wrongs Simeon and Levi enact by not allowing either of them the honor of being the ancestor of Jesus, (though Levi is the father of the priestly order. hmm. curious. Maybe that means Simeon was the ring leader?)
But, what of Dinah? We never hear from her again. Her rape merely set the stage for God to move Jacob away from this land and preserve the people of the covenant. That doesn't mean I think that God doesn't care about her and her hurts. I absolutely know he does. I hope that she was able to go to the Lord with all her hurts, physical and otherwise, and be ministered to in a way her family didn't. I also know that her rape wasn't really the point of this story. but I think that's what makes me so sad. She was just an afterthought in this whole mess. In ancient cultures, she would have been considered damaged- no one would marry her now. From this moment on, she has no future to speak of. She is forever just a footnote.
As for me, my heart is breaking as I write this. I don't want this to be one of those times I feel God stirring something in me and then do nothing about it. I want to stay uncomfortable until God reveals to me what He has planned. I want to be a champion for someone, something. God has placed a desire on my heart to be involved with women's ministry, and I currently am in a small group leader role. I'm not sure if that is the extent of that desire, or if there is something else out there. I do have my RN license, and am fascinated with infectious disease and public health. I also have a family that I KNOW God has asked me to care for and stay home with in this season of my life. There has to be a way these things can work together, because I know they are all from the Lord. I am currently doing a Lenten devotional series that I am getting via email, and the very first one came yesterday. Fittingly, as I'm processing all of this, the writer talks about using this season of Lent as a time to break the silence and speak out for those that cannot. The passage referenced is Jonah 3:1-4:11. Jonah speaks, and Ninevah is saved from destruction. Who am I to speak out for? What is around me that is shrouded in secrecy that needs to come to the Light of healing? The writer is starting to speak out on violence toward women. Ironic, no? For which of the voiceless is God calling YOU to be a voice? My prayer is to find that answer.

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