Did You Know Jacob Had a Daughter? (Genesis 34:1)

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With twelve brothers, it’s easy to forget about Dinah. Out of seven natural children by Leah, she’s the only girl, and the only daughter of Jacob. Even if all the sons didn’t get their own tribes, most remember their names.

It was an embarrassingly long time before I realized that Jacob had a daughter. And as a girl dad myself, I really wish there was a better story of her in Scripture. I don’t subscribe to the idea that the Bible is male-focused and therefore dismissive of women (otherwise, why would the Bible exalt so many strong women?), but I do think that Dinah’s story is short and incredibly unfortunate in the total Narrative.

If you’re unfamiliar with the story, here’s what happens. Dinah goes out to see the “daughters of the land” near Shechem. She is abducted and raped by the local prince, who subsequently falls in love with her. The prince’s father asks for her hand in marriage from Jacob after finding out about the rape.

Jacob’s sons hear what happened to their sister and are (rightfully) enraged. They (unrightfully) deceive the men of the town by telling them to circumcise themselves, because, after all, only circumcised men can marry into their family. 

It’s all a ruse, because as soon as the men comply — in the “third day of their pain” — Simeon and Levi take up arms and slaughter everyone.

It’s an incredibly brutal scene that has virtually no points of redemption to any of it. People die, an innocent woman is raped, and Jacob, the victim’s father, is unfortunately silent through most of the ordeal.

In fact, the only rebuke that is recorded comes when Jacob finds out about the actions of Simeon and Levi. He’s mad because they have made his name “odious” in the land. I may be missing something, but I think a “bad reputation” is the least of his worries right now.

Not only that, but this story has ramifications down the road for the participants. Reuben and Levi are both accosted by Jacob on his deathbed for using their swords as “implements of violence” and “in their anger, they slew men.” Despite his supposed silence at the time, Jacob does understand that his sons were wrong.

But what about Dinah? You cannot take away the simple fact that she was the victim of a terrible crime, and that another crime was committed in response to the original crime. Sin has a compounding nature, and Dinah was unfortunately at the center of it.

This chapter also highlights the very real difference between God’s people and the people of Canaan — or, in this case, the lack of a difference. They were no better in controlling their emotions (anger) than the people of Shechem were in controlling their’s (lust and greed). 

What a terrible commentary on the people of God that you can hardly tell the difference between the two groups of people.