1999(1) Now Dinah, Leah's daughter, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to see the women of the land.
(2) And Shechem, son of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of the land, saw her. He took her and lay with her, forcing her.
(3) But his emotions clung to Dinah, Jacob's daughter. He loved the girl, and he spoke to the heart of the girl.
(4) So Shechem said to Hamor, his father, saying, "Take me this girl as a wife!"
(5) Now Jacob had heard that he [Shechem] had defiled Dinah, his daughter, but since his sons were with his livestock in the fields, Jacob kept silent until they came home.
Your Torah Navigator
1. How does this narrative depict the rape of Dinah?
2. What does the narrative say about Shechem's changing view of Dinah?
3. What do the different ways of describing Dinah, in different places and times -- first as "Leah's daughter, whom she had borne to Jacob," then as "Jacob's daughter," and finally, from Jacob's perspective, as "his daughter," tell us about her status, or how her status is viewed at those different times? Do Dinah's actions affect the way the Torah views her?
4. What do you make of Jacob's reaction in verse 5? Is this how you would expect a father to react to his only daughter being "defiled"?
Some Medieval Commentaries
On verse 1-- "Daughter of Leah" - and not daughter of Jacob. Rather, this is on account of the name "she went out", because even Leah's daughter, like Leah, was "one who went out", as it says (earlier in Genesis 30:16): "Leah went out to greet Jacob in the fields."
On verse 2--"And [he] lay with her" - indicates her consent. "Forcing her" -indicates her lack of consent.
On verse 3--"To Dinah, Jacob's daughter." Indicates Dinah's status as the daughter of Jacob, who was honored in the eyes of the nations. As it says afterwards (in Genesis 34:19), "Because Shechem wanted Jacob's daughter."
Your Commentary Navigator
1. Rashi says that when Dinah "went out to see the women of the land" she is titled after her mother, because Leah was also someone who "went out", when she greeted Jacob. Does this imply some judgment about Dinah's action?
2. Rashi also says that Dinah consented to part of her relations with Shechem. Is this how you read the text?
3. Sforno says that when Shechem thinks of Dinah as Jacob's daughter, it is a sign of respect for Jacob. What kind of respect is given to Dinah in the different contexts of these verses?
The Torah seems to describe rape somewhat accurately, that is that Dinah isn't loved by Shechem until after he has possessed her by violence. Why would a medieval commentator like Rashi, interpret Dinah as participating, at least partially, with consent? Perhaps Rashi sought a voice for Dinah, who is utterly silent in the original text. What do you think of how Rashi chose to represent Dinah? Jacob eventually punishes his sons who take revenge on Shechem for Dinah. Dinah doesn't seem to play a large role in Jacob's eyes. Where are his feelings for his daughter, and what does this say about the role of women in Biblical society? How do Sforno's comments illustrate his view of women in the Torah?
Prepared by Rabbi Jonathan Freirich, Assistant Director, University of Arizona Hillel