“Now Dinah, the daughter Leah had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the women of the land. 2 When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, the ruler of that area, saw her, he took her and raped her. 3 His heart was drawn to Dinah daughter of Jacob; he loved the young woman and spoke tenderly to her. 4 And Shechem said to his father Hamor, ‘Get me this girl as my wife.’5 When Jacob heard that his daughter Dinah had been defiled, his sons were in the fields with his livestock; so he did nothing about it until they came home.6 Then Shechem’s father Hamor went out to talk with Jacob. 7 Meanwhile, Jacob’s sons had come in from the fields as soon as they heard what had happened. They were shocked and furious, because Shechem had done an outrageous thing in[a] Israel by sleeping with Jacob’s daughter – a thing that should not be done.”NIV
‘’They were filled with grief and fury, because Shechem had done a disgraceful thing in Israel…’’ (7a).
‘We are not told why Jacob chose to stay near Shechem rather than moving on. However, as the next chapter will show, his lingering in Shechem was to bring him and his family a great deal of trouble.’ Tom Hale: ‘Applied Old Testament Commentary’, p.180.
‘Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom and lost his daughters (19:30ff.), and Jacob moved too close to Shechem and lost Dinah. She was the daughter of Leah (30:21); which explains why Simeon and Levi became so angry (35:23).’ Warren W. Wiersbe: ‘With the Word’, p.39.
This is a sad, shameful and strange passage. It is sad and shameful because it involves the terrible violence of rape. (Maybe because he was son of the local ruler, Shechem thought he could have anything – even any woman – he wanted. Perhaps he was a ‘spoiled’ boy.) It is strange because it appears that in Shechem’s case lust turned to genuine love. In Biblical times, marriages were arranged by the parents. (They still are in many places). So Shechem asked his dad to tie up the deal (4,6).
Jacob remained strangely tight-lipped initially (5), but when his sons found out, they were incandescent with rage over this violation of their sister. Even though Shechem now wanted to marry Dinah, this didn’t make up for what he had done. Sex before marriage was considered wrong (it is condemned throughout the Bible) and rape was even worse. Their sister had been defiled; the family’s honour had been tainted.
One of the ancients said, ‘Anger is one of the sinews of the soul, and he who lacks it hath a maimed mind.’ There are things that should bring us tears and move us to wrath. But as someone wisely observed, ‘Anyone can be angry. But to be angry with the right person, at the right time, for the right reason, and in the right way – this is not easy.’