Thursday, January 21, 2010

Dinah Goes Downtown -- Genesis 34:1

Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the daughters of the land.

You will remember that Jacob had at least one daughter that is mentioned in scriptures and that was Dinah, borne to him by Leah. Well, by this time Dinah is now either an teenager or in her very early twenties with no girlfriends. And as happens in the life of most youth, there comes a time when they need to explore the world beyond their father’s hold on them. Dinah was no exception.

Some of my readers may remember the song, Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town written by Mel Tillis and made famous by Kenny Rogers and the First Edition in 1969. It’s about a young woman, perhaps a wife, who lives with her paralyzed Vietnam War veteran who has no capability of meeting her physical needs, and so she “takes her love to town”. The man pleads her not to, and the song ends with the line, “Oh Ruby for God’s sake turn around.”

Dinah didn’t exactly “take her love to town” but she was indeed curious and perhaps enamored by what life would be like outside her father Jacob’s camp. So she, likely of her own initiative, took it upon herself to go to the “daughters of the land”. She wanted to see what other girls her own age were up to and likely having no sisters, she goes to visit her neighbors. You will remember that the inhabitants of the land were the Hivites and in particular the family of Shechem.

Just when all his ‘outside’ concerns and fears stemming mainly from his brother’s family seem to have been alleviated, Jacob is now about to face some serious domestic or ‘internal’ challenges. Dinah, as likely the only female child was no doubt very special to both Leah and Jacob. Perhaps she was over indulged, something that research tells us nine times out of ten will lead to difficulties later in life. She just may be the source of discredit and the taker of joy from the family in the days ahead. After all, her Hebrew name did mean ‘judgment’.

So Dinah pretends to want to check out the other girls. We have no record in the text if this was just an ordinary day or whether or not there was a special event going on in Shechem. We also have no record of whether this was her first trip to Shechem or whether she had had opportunities to become more and more familiar with her neighbors than we are led to believe. Was she interested in just the “daughters” are had she noticed the interest that some of the “sons of the land” may have had for her? For whatever reason, Shechem attracted her considerably.

I hope the study of this verse and those that follow causes us to consider very carefully how we raise our children and even how we help with the raising of our grandchildren. Much wisdom and discretion is indeed required. There is absolutely no way we can do that ourselves. To raise them up to be the men and women God’s wants them to be cannot be done without the very involvement of God Himself. Our only guaranteed course of action is for us to personally have a strong and sincere relationship with God and then to entrust both our children and our raising of our children to Him as we follow His guidance and directions for us. Oh, that your household will never have to say, “Oh daughter/son for God’s sake turn around.”

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