Forty women: 9. Dinah
Plenty of the women in this list have their own #metoo story. There was Hagar, remember, given to Abram by her mistress. Leah and Rachel both do the same with their slavewomen, Bilhah and Zilpah, sending them in to have sex with Jacob. Twice, Sarah herself is told to pretend she is Abraham’s sister, and left to the mercy of foreign rulers. Because our Bibles don’t often use the word ‘rape’ we let ourselves believe these incidents were not rape. But those slavewomen had no choice, and therefore gave no consent. Sarah had no choice, she did not consent. Maybe there was physical force and violence, and maybe there was not. It doesn’t matter. Those women’s bodies were used by men. Those women were forced to have sex. They were raped.
Perhaps that makes it all the more shocking when we get to Genesis 34 and we are told that when Shechem saw Dinah he “he took her and raped her.” (Genesis 34:2). This must be even worse than what happened to Hagar, to Sarah, to Bilhah and Zilpah. This was more violent, more horrific, more violating.
Shechem rapes her once, then decides he wants more of the same. We’re told that his heart was drawn to Dinah, that he loved the young woman and spoke tenderly to her. He decides he wants her for his wife.
We’re not told that her heart was drawn to him. We’re not told that she loved him or spoke tenderly to him. We’re not told that she wants him for her husband.
Dinah is lucky. She has brothers. She is part of a family, a household. She has men who do care about her and protect her. They pretend to accept the proposal, they lure Shechem’s people in, on the condition that they get circumcised. And then they avenge their sister.
Simon and Levi kill Shechem, his father, and all the men of their city. They plunder and loot the city, and they bring the women and children back with them.
When Rachael Denhollander spoke at the sentencing of Larry Nassar, the doctor who abused dozens and dozens of young American gymnasts, she asked the question, “How much is a little girl worth?” And she answered her own question this way, “These victims are worth everything… I plead with you to impose the maximum sentence under the plea agreement because everything is what these survivors are worth.”
Simon and Levi knew what their sister was worth. Jacob was worried about what they had done, worried about repercussions, worried they had gone to far. “But they replied, ‘Should he have treated our sister like a prostitute?'” (Genesis 34:31).
How much was Dinah worth? How much is a girl worth? How much is a woman worth?