[b-hebrew] Dinah raped?

Harold Holmyard hholmyard3 at earthlink.net
Sat Jul 21 17:46:02 EDT 2007

Dear Yigal,
> Very good points, James. But all this seems like very typical male behavior, 
> in traditional patriarchal societies - "boys will be boys, as long as they 
> don't do it with our sister". It was convenient for them to believe that 
> Dinah was raped, because then they did not have to deal with the possibly 
> that SHE had acted immorally. The text, as it would seem, is ambiguous, 
> maybe because the author, the descendants of Dinah's brothers, prefer not to 
> accuse their own ancestors of wanton genocide of a whole city. Their act, 
> however, is criticized by Jacob, both in v. 30 and later in his blessing in 
> 49:5-7.

HH: This seems like gratuitous suspicion of the text, which reads like a 
rape. Jacob criticizes their acts because they was unfairly 
disproportionate. You do not kill a whole town of males for the sin of 
one man. You punish the man. The rest of the town was not complicit in 
the sin, which was the sudden act of an individual as far as we know.
> We find the same kind of behavior in chapter 38 - Judah has no problem with 
> going to a prostitute, but when he "finds out" that his daughter-in-law 
> Tamar had been a prostitute, he commands her burned. The text is critical of 
> his hypocrisy, but not of either one of his acts in themselves.

HH: Yes, Judah was hypocritical. The Bible does not criticize everything 
that is wrong when it reports it. But if God hates prostitution, and 
considers it associated with wickedness, as Scripture says he does, then 
he doubtless is not pleased with people who engage in it:

Deut. 23:18 You shall not bring the fee of a prostitute or the wages of 
a male prostitute into the house of the LORD your God in payment for any 
vow, for both of these are abhorrent to the LORD your God.

Lev. 19:29  “‘Do not degrade your daughter by making her a prostitute, 
or the land will turn to prostitution and be filled with wickedness.

And the Bible does criticize those who resort to prostitutes:

Hos. 4:14     I will not punish your daughters when they play the whore,
        nor your daughters-in-law when they commit adultery;
    for the men themselves go aside with whores,
        and sacrifice with temple prostitutes;
    thus a people without understanding comes to ruin.

> We must be very careful of assuming that the authors of the Bible shared the 
> same views on "morality" that modern-day Jews and Christians do. This is 
> especially true for matters of sexual behavior.

HH: We also must be careful not to be conformed to the immoral thinking 
of this world, to which God's morals stand in contrast. The fact that 
Judah's morals were twisted does not mean that God's are.

Harold Holmyard

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