16 February 2011

A Question for one of Better Hebrew than I


So, I have been doing some studying, and I've come across a few sources who seem to think that in Genesis 34 that Dinah is not raped, but rather that when she is "taken" by Shechem it is a willing thing - that it is not "seized" her but, takes her as a wife, but they aren't married yet. Thus the dishonor and humiliation isn't rape but rather pre-marital sex.

Now, here I must admit - my Hebrew is... well, let's just say I've learned to hate the BDB with a passion. The Greek just has "labOn" - which is take. What nuances come out in the Hebrew - וַיִּקַּ

Anyone know? Okay, I'm sure one of you know - could you lend any insight this way?


Pr. H. R. said...

The verbs to take and to grasp have a long history in many languages of being a euphemism for rape. It'd be hard for me to read that line in any other way. Given, that might be my background in Greek and Latin where there is no doubt what they mean.

In addition, it is hard to imagine a woman in that culture going in for premarital sex willingly.


Rev. Eric J Brown said...

That's the way I want to lean as well - however, a few things give me pause.

1. There is the simple way of saying, "He took her to be his wife" - which doesn't imply rape.
2. The point that Shechem loves Dinah and speaks tenderly to her made repeatedly.
3. The brothers are even willing to consider marriage.
4. At the end of the chapter, the brothers accuse Shechem of treating her like a prostitute.

While I certainly can see why and how this is understood as a rape... I think it makes a lot of sense if this is dumb teens not thinking. And that is the cause of the dishonor - that she throws decorum to the wind and is seduced.

The Greek doesn't have that "harpazo", that forceful sense - it's just lambano. I am really curious about the Hebrew.

Ted Badje said...

The whole intent of Genesis 34 is to show what happens when the patriarchs do not consult God for their actions. God is not even mentioned in the whole chapter. The chapter ended up with Jacob's sons using circumcision as a tool to commit murder. It is a definitive example of what happens when Man is left to his own devices and morality.

Steve Finnell said...

you are invited to follow my blog

John Wurst said...

I sent your request to Chad Bird. He is excellent with the Hebrew language.

John Wurst said...

Here is the response I received from Chad...

Hey John,
You happened to catch me at a time when 99% of my books are boxed up, including my Hebrew lexicons. Basically, though, the Hebrew verb for 'take' is used here. And like many verbs, it depends almost entirely upon context to narrow down a meaning. So there's nothing much in the verb itself to help you--no technical meaning that might answer the question. You'll have to let the whole story guide you in determining what kind of 'taking' took place.


I hope this helps.

Rev. Scott Hojnacki said...

I would suggest that, rather than focusing on the “taking,” which is the (rather generic) Hebrew laqah, that the “rape” is found in the Hebrew ’anah, the last word in the verse, literally “humbled/humiliated,” generally translated as “defiled” or “violated.” The word is not ordinarily used of consensual sex (Deut. 22:24, Judges 19:24, 2 Samuel 13:14 are a few examples).

Rev. Eric J Brown said...


Looking at Deut 22:24 - that seems to denote that which is consentual - the woman in that case did not cry for help, even though she was in the city. Part of me wonders if this isn't simply that we are much more willing to brush off the shame of extra-martial sex and not view it as a horrific violation and humiliation.