Not only did she leave the protection of her father’s home in order to go out on her own and pursue her own plans, she likely did so without her father’s knowledge or permission. If she had simply been openly communicating with her father as we see daughters doing in Numbers 30, this likely would not have happened. Oh the dangerous, destructive binds we can find ourselves in when we do not seek our father’s wise counsel, authority, and advice!
In verse one we read of Dinah’s leaving her father’s home. Trouble is by no means slow in arriving, for in the very next verse, we read that Shechem, the son of Hamor, “saw her, took her, and lay with her, and defiled her.” Some believe that Shechem raped Dinah, while there are others who claim that the relationship was a consensual one. I happen to think that in this context, the phrase "took her" may very well support the view held by those who believe it was rape. Either way, this was a terribly wicked act of sin-one that could have been avoided had Dinah remained at home or had the protection of her father or older brothers when she went on her venture. Sadly, however, she rejected the protection offered by her home and family, and the result was a tragic one. If this were the end of the story, it would be proof enough of the dire importance of daughters remaining under the protection of their fathers. Unfortunately, however, this is not where the story ends-it gets much, much worse.
Shechem desired to marry Dinah, and in the following verses, he appeals to his father as well as Dinah’s family, to allow him to wed her. In verses 14 through 24, we read that, because Shechem was outside the covenant community and not one of God’s chosen people, Dinah’s family would not give her to him unless he, too, were circumcised. Shechem and his people agreed to this condition and proceeded to be circumcised. Shechem was joyful, for he believed that Dinah’s brothers would hold up their end of the deal, and he would soon be married to Dinah. However, we discover in verses 13, 25, and following that all along, Jacob’s sons had had no intention whatever to give Dinah to Shechem as wife. Verses 25-30 add insult to injury and plunge Jacob’s family into an even deeper abyss of sadness and destruction. Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, slew with the sword Shechem, Hamor, and all the men of their land. They went on to spoil the entire city in vengeance and stole all their possessions-their money, children, wives, and animals-taking them, as it were, prisoner. Verse 30 of this chapter is just as tragic as the first two verses, if not more so: “And Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, ‘Ye have troubled me to make me to stink among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites: and I being few in number, they shall gather themselves together against me, and slay me; and I shall be destroyed, I and my house.”
Genesis 34 is filled with one tragic event after another. Dinah is defiled and robbed of her virginity, Simeon and Levi murder countless men and take their possessions as plunder, and now Jacob’s entire family line is ruined, hated, and in danger of being completely destroyed. What could have possibly been the root of this mayhem and caused this distruction? The seemingly little act of Dinah, an unmarried young woman, leaving her father’s house, void of his protection, counsel, and leadership. Granted, Shechem is certainly to blame for sinning against Dinah; he was by no means a saint and was in dire need of self-control! Likewise, Simeon and Levi were to blame for the horrible ravaging they committed against Shechem and his land. However, it is highly unlikely that any of this would have occurred, had Dinah remained under the protection of her father, in the sphere God had so wisely and lovingly designed for her, rather than shunning it and going off on her own.
Consider the following words of Matthew Poole, a Puritan from the 17th century:
Likewise, consider these words from well-known Bible commentator Matthew Henry:
Behold all the disastrous consequences that can follow when daughters go against God’s all-wise, ordained design of stay-at-home daughterhood and forsake the protection of their fathers!
A college survey conducted by the National Victim Center reported that one in four college women have been raped or suffered attempted rape (Bureau of Justice, 1992).4
Approximately 32% of college students are victims of domestic violence5
While in college, 50 - 75% of women are sexually harassed, and 20 to 30% of college women report being sexually harassed by a professor6
Fifteen percent of all female violent crimes were committed while the victim was working or on duty.7
Approximately 36,500 rapes and sexual assaults occur annually in the workplace. In 80 percent of these incidents, the victim was female.8
This is tragic! And yet, in our day, if you are an adult woman and not on a college campus or busying yourself in the workplace, you are viewed as old-fashioned, unfulfilled, and strange. Is it any wonder that, in Numbers 30, the Lord commands fathers to protect and lead their unmarried daughters at home until they give them in marriage?
Prevailing among Christendom today is the idea that the Bible speaks not to the issue of where unmarried young women should live. Others believe that if it does speak to this issue, it is simply by way of suggestion or the issuance of a good idea, or perhaps through some archaic, done-away-with command. However, this is clearly not the case. The Scriptures provide us with example after example of stay-at-home daughters, verses pertaining to stay-at-home daughterhood, and commands addressing the issue of where unmarried daughters are to live. In addition, we are provided with only one example of a daughter who forsook the protection of her father. If the Lord were indifferent as to where an unmarried woman lives, then He would have provided for us in His Word positive, heart-warming, good examples of unmarried daughters leaving their families and living on their own. However, this is simply not what we find in the Scriptures-and I believe we know precisely why this is!
1. Matthew Poole, Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible Vol. 1 (Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2008) pg. 77
2. Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible (Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1991) pg. 73
3. Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible (Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1991) pg. 2370