Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Reading the Bible - Genesis 34

Get ready, sit back and prepare your mind to be blown away.

In Genesis 30 we encountered upon Jacobs daughter Dinah, well today we deal with the rape of Dinah and the subsequent events. In a nutshell it can be argued whether Dinah was actually raped, so we will look at various verses that deal with this issue. This is important for many reasons, as it justifies the consequences of the story even though the consequences outweigh any actions that were taken against Dinah in my opinion.

We start of with the verse that describes Dinah getting raped by Shechem.
"When Sheʹchem, the son of Haʹmor the Hiʹvite, a chieftain of the land, saw her, he took her and lay down with her and violated her."
This is followed up with the truly bizarre story of Schechem falling in love with Dinah and him essentially winning Dinah over. This sends alarm signals about the purported rape, as it makes me wonder why would Dinah want to be with her rapist.
"And he became very attached to Diʹnah, the daughter of Jacob, and he fell in love with the young woman and spoke persuasively to her. Finally Sheʹchem said to Haʹmor his father: “Get me this young woman to be my wife.”"
Now it could be argued that Dinah was suffering some form of battered person syndrome, however Jacob was aware of the "rape" and as such this line of reasoning weakens very quickly.

I think the easier way to understand this is to come to the rather screwed up conclusion that women are meant to be considered as possessions. In fact we understand this as the Bible tells us that the sons of Jacob were disgraced and angry because someone had had sex with their sister. They honestly did not care if she had been raped, that was completely beside the point for the alpha males that they were.
"But the sons of Jacob heard about it and returned from the field right away. They were offended and very angry because he had disgraced Israel by lying down with Jacob’s daughter, something that should not be done."
We can elaborate on the position of women in this society as possessions as the next paragraph goes into details about Schechem trying to pay any price so that he can marry Dinah.
"You can demand from me a very high bride price and gift. I am willing to give whatever you may say to me. Just give me the young woman as a wife.”"

Now the rape of Dinah is shown basically to justify everything that is going to come from this point forward. So let us move on and see what Jacob's son have in mind for the rapist. Simple thinking would be a death sentence or something along those lines for the perpetrator. Instead the sons decide on something more specific, i.e. genital mutilation aka circumcision.
"They said to them: “We cannot possibly do such a thing, to give our sister to a man who is not circumcised, for that is a disgrace to us. We can only consent on this condition: that you become like us and circumcise all your males."
This makes Shechem and his father extremely happy, and so they go and get themselves circumcised as well as convincing the whole city to get circumcised. Frankly, this does not sound like the actions of a mean spirited people who  know that one of their own has just raped someone. Remarkably, it goes a step further in saying that Shechem was the most honorable of all the tribe.
 "The young man did not delay in doing what they asked, because he found delight in Jacob’s daughter, and he was the most honorable of the whole house of his father."
This statement either means these are a) all despicable people or b) the Bible is talking rubbish.

So as punishment for the rape of their sister the sons of Jacob made everyone, not just the rapist, get circumsized? No, it gets worse.
"However, on the third day, when they were still in pain, two sons of Jacob, Simʹe·on and Leʹvi, Diʹnah’s brothers, each took his sword and went into the unsuspecting city and killed every male."
So they circumcised men, not just the rapist, all were killed for the rape of Dinah? No, it gets worse.
"Jacob’s other sons came upon the slain men and plundered the city because they had defiled their sister. They took their flocks, their herds, their donkeys, and whatever was in the city and in the field."
So they circumcised men, not just the rapist, all were killed for the rape of Dinah and then their city got plundered? No, it gets worse.
"They also took all their possessions, captured all their little children and their wives, and plundered everything in the houses."
So the sons of Jacob killed all the men, plundered their city and took the women for sex slaves? Yes, thats about the appropriate action when you have the actual rapist in your hands.

Oh, but there is more. When Jacob chastises his sons for killing all the people and making people angry with him. Jacobs sons refer to Dinah as a prostitute, so I think we can be almost certain that she was not raped.
"At this Jacob said to Simʹe·on and to Leʹvi: “You have brought great trouble on me in making me a stench to the inhabitants of the land, to the Caʹnaan·ites and the Perʹiz·zites. I am few in number, and they will certainly gather together to attack me and I will be annihilated, I and my house.”  But they said: “Should anyone treat our sister like a prostitute?”"

Seems like the Israelites have always been a heavy handed people when it comes to retaliation. Perhaps this explains why the State of Israel is so good at lobbing bombs at the Palestinians, when mostly Palestinians only have rocks? Or is the Bible/Torah just used to justify stupid beliefs so that violence can be called holy?

See you all again next week

All verses come from the New World Translation Of The Holy Scriptures.
Online version available at the Jehovah's Witnesses official website