How does Scripture see rape? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
Jacob’s only daughter, Dinah, is out one day visiting the women of the land where Jacob is staying. Shechem, the son of Hamor, sees her and likes what he sees and rapes her. At the same time, the text says he loved her and spoke tenderly to her and asked his Dad to get her for his wife.
Love can be expressed in funny ways. (Although I’d say it wasn’t really love but lust there.)
Jacob is approached by Hamor and during the conversation, Jacob’s sons come in and hear what happened and are shocked and furious. The sad part of this is we don’t know what Jacob thought about this. Jacob is really an absentee father in this case. A Middle Eastern audience would likely be very surprised by Jacob’s silence. Isn’t a father to protect his daughter and assure her virginity?
Jacob’s sons take the lead here and say that they will only agree to what is proposed if the men of the community are all willing to be circumcised. The text says they are speaking deceitfully, though the reader doesn’t know their plan at this point. Shechem agrees to this and all the men in the town are circumcised. While they are still in pain, Jacob’s sons come in and kill everyone and rescue Dinah.
Despite what some internet skeptics and atheist websites say, the Bible never approves of rape. It records it and tells Israel that if they are unfaithful to God, He will cease to protect them and that means the nations around them who have no problem with their men raping the women, will come in and have their way. This is not God ordaining it or approving it. He’s just not stopping every instance of evil. He has no obligation to.
The rape of Dinah is presented as an evil and no reason needs to be given for it. The text assumes at the start that you know that Dinah was treated in a way that is wrong and shameful both. Her brothers saw it immediately.
Yet another tragedy in all of this is that after the slaughter, this is when we see Jacob speak and he’s concerned about his reputation in the eyes of those around him. Whether we agree with the method of her brothers or not, they had the right idea. Should their sister have been treated like a prostitute? Simeon and Levi, the two brothers involved, are more concerned about their sister’s honor than Jacob is.
Thus, we have an account of one woman who went out to meet the other women and her honor was turned to shame. She met a man who mistreated her. This man took advantage of her entirely.
Go forward around a couple of thousand years and in this same area, the reverse will happen. One woman, who has been shamed by five different men will go out and not to meet other women. She will go out alone. She will meet a man who will honor her. This woman will then go out to other people and say “Have we met the Messiah?”
The shame of Dinah is reversed at the coming of Jesus, and Jesus can today help those who have gone through the horror of rape. Such who go through are the victims and have no need to be ashamed. Shame should belong to the perpetrator of the crime. Any person (Because men can be raped too) who has been abused can find solace in Christ and a place to have their honor restored.
If you have gone through this or know someone who has, please get some help for yourself. Please also consider the claims of Christ. You don’t have to live in defeat. You can still enjoy the freedom He offers.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)