Dinah, the daughter of Jacob and Leah, was growing up to be a comely young woman. Jacob saw that she might be an asset by which to get himself and his extended family more accepted by the Canaanites, among whom he and his family had settled.
Jacob told Dinah, who was a stay-at-home indoorsy type, that she should get out more and cultivate friendships with the women who lived in the surrounding countryside.
“Why only women, Father?” said Dinah, “Why can’t I cultivate friendships with the surrounding men too?”
“Ordinarily it would be nice if you could” said Jacob, “Unfortunately, the average man is a lecherous beast when it comes to young women, and will try to act out his desires when with one.”
“By saying that the average man is a lecherous beast, Father, do you not imply that a man who is not average is not a lecherous beast?”
“I suppose I do, Daughter. But, because there are so many more men who are average than those who are not, you should assume for your own safety that any man you speak with is average, and therefore a lecherous beast.”
Dinah began visiting the women of the surrounding countryside, and was careful to ignore any advances from men in the households she visited. However, one of these households was that of the Hivite prince, Hamor, whose son, Sechem, took an immediate liking to Dinah when she was introduced to him in the course of her speaking with his mother and sisters.
When Dinah left, Sechem was waiting outside. She allowed him to draw her into conversation, reasoning to herself that Sechem, being the son of a prince (Hamor the Hivite), wasn’t an average man, and therefore wouldn’t be a lecherous beast.
Dinah’s reasoning, though, turned out wrong. She succumbed to Sechem’s mellifluous words, and went to his tent where he embraced her. This was all she wanted. But Sechem wanted more, and violated her. When Dinah said she was returning home, Sechem said no she couldn’t.
“I love you” said Sechem, “I want to take you to wife. Please, will you let me?”
“Certainly not. Look, I’m sure there are lots of girls – beautiful girls too – who would just love for you to take them to wife. But I’m not one of them.”
“We’ll see about that” said Sechem.
Sechem went to his father, Prince Hamor, and told him what had happened.
“Despite what I’ve done to Dinah, I do love her and wish to take her to wife. While I can’t persuade her, you just could persuade her father to get her to agree. Tell him I love her. That might do the trick.”
“I’ll see what I can do” said Prince Hamor.
When Dinah didn’t come home that night, nor the next night, Jacob became concerned. He asked around, and learned that Sechem had violated Dinah and was keeping her a prisoner. While Jacob wasn’t at all happy that Dinah had been violated, he was relieved she was alive, and that, as Sechem’s prisoner, she was safe, at least for the time being.
Fearing that his sons – Dinah’s brothers – might become unruly if suddenly told of what had happened to their sister, Jacob said nothing when they came in from the fields. He had learned that Prince Hamor, with Sechem in tow, was coming to talk to him. That would be the time for his sons to learn the news.
“Thank you for receiving us” said Prince Hamor to Jacob and his sons, “I’m deeply sorry for what Sechem did to Dinah, and Sechem’s sorry too, aren’t you, Son?”
“Yes Father, I am” said Sechem.
“What’s this all about?” said Simeon, Jacob’s second son.
“You should all know” said Jacob to his sons, “that Sechem violated your sister, Dinah.”
“When did this happen?”
“Oh…….a couple of days or so ago, isn’t that right Sechem?”
“Yes, two days ago, to be exact” said Sechem.
“Why……you……..you……” yelled Simeon as he rushed up to Sechem and put his hands around his throat.
Chaos followed as the two men struggled. Jacob and Prince Hamor were eventually able to pull Simeon off the spluttering Sechem. After the short while it took for Sechem to recover, the meeting resumed.
“Despite Sechem violating Dinah” said Prince Hamor, “he loves her so much that he wants to take her to wife, isn’t that so, Son?”
“That is so, Father.”
“Let us ally ourselves through us men taking each others women to wife” said Prince Hamor to Jacob and his sons, “My Sechem taking your Dinah to wife will be the first chapter in the story of mutual harmony between our two peoples. And please, settle among us, for our country is open to you. Move about freely and acquire land of your own. Agree among yourselves the price I should pay you, so that Sechem can take Dinah to wife, and I’ll gladly pay it.”
Jacob’s sons got into a huddle and, loudly and with much gesticulating, discussed what Prince Hamor had proposed. After agreement was reached, Simeon, as the spokesman, said to Prince Hamor, “Sorry, but we can’t allow a man not circumcised to take our sister, or any of our women, to wife. Not to put too fine a point on it, we would consider it a disgrace. That’s the bad news. The good news, however, is that if you will have every male among you circumcised – and that includes you, O Prince, and your boy, Sechem – you can all can take our women to wife, just as we will take yours. How about it?”
“What if we say ‘no'” said Prince Hamor.
“Well, we’ll just collect our sister from you and go away.”
“We’ll give our reply in due course. I must first consult my people.”
“Be quick about it.”
On going back home, Prince Hamor gathered together all the men of the Hivite nation and addressed them. He outlined the proposed deal with Jacob and his sons.
“Men” said Prince Hamor, “I’d like for you all to agree to this proposal, for Jacob and his tribe are friendly to us, which is a good thing because there are as many of them as there are of us. We have enough land to accommodate both them and us. And, think of this, we’ll have access to any of their unattached woman who we can take to wife. Their women are, on the whole, more beautiful even than ours. All those beautiful women for you to take to wife. Doesn’t that grab you all?”.
“Circumcision sounds painful” shouted a man in the crowd.
“It’s less painful than it sounds” said Prince Hamor, “It’s so painless that all the new-born baby boys in Jacob’s tribe are circumcised. Are you implying that you, a big grown man, are too much a sissy to undergo what any little baby boy in Jacob’s tribe undergoes? And, when push comes to shove, think of all those beautiful women you’ll miss out on if you’re too cowardly to be circumcised.”
After further discussion, a vote was held by a show of hands. The proposal was overwhelmingly approved.
The circumcisions done, the men of the Hivite nation were in great pain. Spies sent by Jacob’s sons to the Hivite lands to observe the effects of the mass circumcision, reported back that all the men were lying on the ground and groaning.
Two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, armed with swords, entered the kingdom and attacked all the men they could see who were lying on the ground and groaning. Swishity-swish, hackity-hack, stabbity-stab. Soon all the men of the Hivite kingdom were cut to pieces, among them Prince Hamor and Sechem. Simeon and Levi also freed their sister, Dinah. Then Jacob’s other sons came in and plundered the kingdom, seizing all the sheep, cattle, donkeys, flocks, women, and possessions of all the dead men.
Jacob, however, wasn’t entirely happy about this. When his sons returned with their booty he said to them, after welcoming Dinah back, “Boys, you’ve brought trouble upon me. You’ve made my name stink among all the peoples we now live among. There are lots of them but few of us. Need I say more?”
“What else could we have done?” said Simeon, “Would you rather our sister had been treated as a common harlot?”
Source: Genesis 34