DINAH (Heb. דִּינָה), the daughter of *Jacob and his wife *Leah (Gen. 30:21). Of her life, the Bible records only that during her family's stay in the vicinity of *Shechem, she was raped by Shechem, the son of Hamor the Hivite. Jacob's sons, *Simeon and *Levi, avenged their sister by slaughtering the male population of Shechem, carrying off the women and children, and taking their goods and livestock as spoil (Gen. 34). The biblical narrative contains divergent appraisals of this act of revenge. On the one hand, Jacob strongly disapproves of his sons' deeds, and while his immediate reaction is based on a fear of reprisal by the local population (34:30), on his deathbed (49:5–7) he once again expresses disgust at their conduct, prophesying that their descendants would be scattered in later Israel. On the other hand, the story's emphatic ending ("Should our sister be treated like a whore?"; 34:31) appeals to the reader to understand their behavior and even to approve it. This ambivalence is reflected in later Jewish tradition as well (Judith 9:2–4; Gen. R. 80:12; Yal., Gen. 134–5).
Scholars who find a historical kernel in the story point to the absence of the tribes of Simeon and Levi from the tribal list of the Song of Deborah (Judges 5) and see in Genesis 34 and Genesis 49:5–7 an etiology of that absence. Others read the chapter from the anthropological perspective of ingroup versus outgroup marriage in proto-Israelite times. Still others (see Amit in Bibliography) understand the chapter as a hidden polemic of the post-exilic period directed against the practice of conversion to Judaism. Thanks to the feminist movement, more attention has been paid to the story of Dinah than in previous generations. The question raised recently of whether the story describes an actual rape is complicated by the absence of a single term for "rape" (post-biblical anas) from Biblical Hebrew.
The Bible relates nothing further of Dinah's life, nor of her progeny, after this episode, although she is numbered among those who immigrated to Egypt (Gen. 46:15).
[Jacob S. Levinger /
S. David Sperling (2nd ed.)]
In the Aggadah
Dinah was destined to be a male, but Leah, out of compassion for her sister Rachel, prayed that she be a girl, so that of the 12 sons whom she knew Jacob was destined to beget, two would be born to her sister. Leah called her daughter Dinah because of the judgment (din) she had thus passed on herself (Ber. 60a). Both Jacob and Leah are held partly responsible for the tragedy of Dinah. Dinah, desiring to show off her beauty to the Canaanite (Tanḥ. B. on Gen. 34:1), "went out," in the same way that her mother "went out" (see Gen. 30:16), and "as the mother so was the daughter" (Gen. R. 80:1). According to another view, however, she never willingly left her tent. Shechem made her do so through a subterfuge (PdRE 38). Jacob was to blame in that he concealed Dinah from his brother. Because he refused to give her in marriage to the circumcised Esau, she was ravished by the uncircumcised Shechem (Gen. R. 80:4). Jacob was thereby punished for staying in Shechem and delaying his departure to Beth-El (Lev. R. 37:1). According to one view, Asenath, the wife of Joseph (Gen. 41:45), was a daughter of Dinah. Abandoned by Jacob and found and adopted by *Potiphar (Poti-Phera) in Egypt, she was recognized by Joseph by an amulet which Jacob had given her; she later became Joseph's wife (PdRE 38).
E.A. Speiser, Genesis (1964), 262–8; de Vaux, Anc Isr, 368; Meisler (Mazar), in: BIES, 15 (1950), 84; EM, 2 (1965), 653–4 (incl. bibl.); Ginzberg, Legends, 1 (1925), 395–400; 5 (1925), 313–4. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: C. Meyers, in: ADB, 2, 200; I. Sheres, Dinah's Rebellion (1990); D. Fewell and D. Gunn, in: JBL, 110 (1991), 193–211; A. Keefe, in: Semeia, 61 (1993), 79–97; L. Bechtel, in: JSOT, 62 (1994), 19–36; Y. Amit, in: M. Fox (ed.), Texts, Temples, and Traditions (FS Haran; 1996), 11–28; M. Gruber, in: Beth Mikra, 157 (1999), 119–27; E. van Wolde, in: VT, 52 (2002), 528–44.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.