Genesis 34 – IF ONLY …

Posted: July 9, 2017 in Genesis, Genesis 34
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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Blame and Excuse – © Ross Cochrane

Genesis 34 – IF ONLY …

Genesis 34:1 says, “One day Dinah, the daughter of Jacob and Leah, went to visit some of the young women who lived in the area.” 

Only one of Jacob’s daughters is ever mentioned in the Bible. Tracing the years from her birth, evidence suggests that Dinah is young, perhaps as young as 7-12 years old.

There is nothing to indicate that she is rebellious, naïve or ignorant as some have suggested. She is a normal little girl who obviously wanted to make friends. Did she leave her home that day without permission from her Mum or Dad? Why didn’t her brothers accompany her? Whatever the reason was for her to be alone that day in the neighborhood, she could not have foreseen what would happen.

It was a dangerous neighborhood. The Hivites were known historically for social and religious customs which cut across God’s purposes. Their cultural norms made them so detestable to God that later he would tell Moses to conquer them and destroy them completely. Racial cleansing? Nothing would cleanse the extent of their sin. This was a people group who were so wicked the wages of their sin was war. Nothing has changed.

MOSES, you should have…

If only Moses had been around. Moses would later say to the Hebrew tribes, You must completely destroy the Hittites, …, just as the Lord your God has commanded you. This will prevent the people of the land from teaching you to imitate their detestable customs in the worship of their gods, which would cause you to sin deeply against the Lord your God.” (Deuteronomy 20:17-18).

The Hivites were to be judged for the nature of their depravity, such was their evil influence. Moses can’t be held to blame for what happened to Dinah. There are certainly consequences for such blatant wickedness, but this evil rears it’s ugly head long before Moses appears on the scene.

Genesis 34:2 speaks of a sexual predator, a pedophile, parading as a prince. “But when the local prince, Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, saw Dinah, he seized her and raped her.”

This is the first recorded rape in the Bible, the first example of pedophilia, carried out by a man with social standing, the local prince of the Hivites.

Yet, strange attitudes of blame and excuse have persisted concerning this event. Calvin, the great theologian intimates that Dinah is the one responsible for her own rape. He writes, “…not less danger hangs over weak virgins at this day, if they go too boldly and eagerly into public assemblies, and excite the passions of youth towards themselves.”

DINAH, you should have…

Many people suggest a cautious approach when it comes to women walking alone, and suggest that if Dinah ignored the danger of walking alone, she was asking for it. It becomes the victims’ responsibility entirely and so to Dinah, they shout…

“Stay safe! – Don’t walk alone, especially at night, ask someone to accompany you, work out the safest route to where you want to go, keep to well-lit streets, avoid parks, be hyper-aware of your environment; all escape routes, all doorways and obstacles. Better still – take a cab, don’t travel on the train, wear clothes to run in, dress as a man, don’t wear flimsy clothing, short skirts or anything that exposes the breasts. Scream “Fire!” if you are attacked.” If only Dinah had been more careful …

Others intimate that Dinah should have carried a sword, responding to violence with violence – “buy a gun or pepper spray, take self-defense classes and walk where you want.” If only Dinah was taught to fight …

Feminists would talk to Dinah about a rape culture. They would say it is not a matter of teaching young women how to avoid rape by not going anywhere on their own. They would declare to educators and parents, “Don’t tell us to restrict our freedom. Tell them not to rape!” N Fitzsimmons says, “The safety of women is not just about women having to always be fearful, and it’s not her fault if she’s attacked. It’s about teaching children from an early age to be respectful of all people. And that means the adults setting an example by always being respectful of all people.” If only Shechem had been taught not to rape Dinah …

Even in between all these views there is no real answer and these are not the insights that can adequately be directed towards a little girl. Was Dinah responsible for being raped? Obviously not! Was she able to defend herself? No! Did she live in a lawless culture who regarded women as commodities for sexual exploitation? Yes! Was she too young to really appreciate the danger? Yes.

IF ONLY…

If only her parents or brothers had been aware of her wandering away that day. If only Moses had been on the scene long before this had happened. If only Jacob and Leah had shown a little more foresight and care for a little girl in the family. If only her brothers had accompanied her that day.

If only, if only, if only! … then this tragic situation could have been averted. Living in regret for what we could have done is living in the “If only’s” and “What if’s”. Who’s to blame? Moses, Dinah, her parents or her brothers? Or all of the above? Who will take responsibility for Shechem’s behavior and shield the perpetrator from blame?

Should we lobby governments for better lighting in the parks, security cameras everywhere, laws to make parents transport their children everywhere, curfews at nightclubs, mass rallies to protest against rapists? Longer jail sentences? Less personal rights?

Should we bubble wrap our children? Cocoon them in cotton wool? Shield them from any of the harsher edges of reality? Never let them walk in the park in case something will happen? Even Jesus said to His disciples, Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16).

Fear of harm and “If only…” and “What if…” mentalities will never be enough to solve the real problem of sin in our world. Oh, yes, let’s do what we can to protect our children, but let’s be aware that they are at best band-aid solutions.

Not legislation or even education could ever be enough to deal with the problem of sin. Yes, I will take measures to protect our children and grandchildren, but I hope not to forget or fail to include the only real answer for this world – the life-changing transformation only Christ can make in a person’s life. Only the message of Christ has the capability to adequately solve the problem of sin. In Romans 1:16 (NLT) Paul says, “For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes …”

Ephesians 2:1-22 (NLT) says, “Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, … All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. … God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. … For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago. … In those days you were living apart from Christ…. You lived in this world without God and without hope. But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to Him through the blood of Christ. For Christ Himself has brought peace to us. …You are members of God’s family.”  

Genesis 34 invites us not to whitewash the tombstone, but know Christ and make Him known, so that resurrection life will arise and true love for God and each other can be extended.

And by the way, when it all comes down to it, only Shechem himself can bear the blame for his perverted and abusive actions.

Something to think about.

Pastor Ross

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