Trickery, Discrimination, and Dinah–Genesis 34

Trigger Warning: This show contains references to sexual assault and extreme violence which comes directly out of Genesis chapter 34. (Who said the Bible is “family-friendly?”)

Liam Hooper takes on a difficult text: Genesis 34 which tells the story of Dinah, the daughter of Leah and of Jacob. One day Dinah, a young woman of marrying age, leaves the family compound on the edge of a Hivite settlement to visit the women of the region. According to the writer of the account:

2 When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the region, saw her, he seized her and lay with her by force. 3 And his soul was drawn to Dinah daughter of Jacob; he loved the girl, and spoke tenderly to her. 4 So Shechem spoke to his father Hamor, saying, “Get me this girl to be my wife.”

This sets off a string of bloody events, intrigue, and depending how you look at it, a heroic or horrific response. 

9 Make marriages with us; give your daughters to us, and take our daughters for yourselves. 10 You shall live with us; and the land shall be open to you; live and trade in it, and get property in it.” 11 Shechem also said to her father and to her brothers, “Let me find favor with you, and whatever you say to me I will give. 12 Put the marriage present and gift as high as you like, and I will give whatever you ask me; only give me the girl to be my wife.”

13 The sons of Jacob answered Shechem and his father Hamor deceitfully, because he had defiled their sister Dinah. 14 They said to them, “We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one who is uncircumcised, for that would be a disgrace to us. 15 Only on this condition will we consent to you: that you will become as we are and every male among you be circumcised…25 On the third day, when they were still in pain, two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, took their swords and came against the city unawares, and killed all the males. 26 They killed Hamor and his son Shechem with the sword, and took Dinah out of Shechem’s house, and went away. 27 And the other sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and plundered the city, because their sister had been defiled.

For Liam this passage raises troubling questions. The brothers and the teller of the tale emphatically state Shechem rapes Dinah, but is it possible Dinah gives her consent to Shechem? Are the brothers offended because their sister is “defiled,” or because she chose her own lover and husband without their consent? How does class, ethnicity, and tribe play in this display of extreme violence by the aggrieved brothers against every male in the city? What might Dinah have to say about all of this since none of her words or reactions are ever mentioned in the text? And how does this ancient text mirror the race-based terrorism gangs of white men poured out on African-Americans when they accused a Black man of being sexually or romantically inappropriate with a white woman? 

Liam admits he has more questions than answers. Peterson Toscano joins the discussion, adds even more questions, and reveals the confusing feelings he had as a child when he was sexually assaulted. The honest discourse and deep questions invites listeners to contribute their own thoughts, feelings, and insights. 

Peterson follows up with “Another Text,” The Afternoon Son, a poem by gay poet Constantine or C.P. Cavafy. It was translated by Edmund Keeley and is available to read at The Poetry Foundation

In each episode of Bible Bash Podcast, Liam, a trans queerish man, and co-host, cis gay Bible scholar, Peterson Toscano, take turns presenting the text. They then discuss. In addition, each episode they present another text, a non-Biblical text of note–religious or secular–that may or may not correspond to the Bible text. 

To share your questions, comments, requests for passages to be discussed, or suggestions for guests who can talk about texts, email us at

Bible Bash Podcast is a project of Ministries Beyond Welcome

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