Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Dinah, The Daughter of Jacob

Dinah, the seventh and youngest child of Leah and Jacob, was born the same year as her half-brother Joseph. In fact, the Talmud (Brachot 60a) notes that Leah specifically prayed that the child would be a girl so as not to cause her sister (and co-wife) Rachel anguish over her lack of sons.

Jacob was very protective of Dinah. As he returned to the land of Israel and prepared to meet his vengeful brother Esau, Jacob worried that Esau would see his young daughter and wish to marry her, thus establishing an (unwanted) alliance. Therefore, the Midrash (Genesis Rabbah 76:9) explains, based on the fact that Genesis 32:23 only mentions his eleven sons (and no daughters), that Jacob hid Dinah in a box throughout the encounter.

Sadly, Jacob could not protect his daughter from all villains. Genesis 34 describes how, when the family settled in Shechem, Dinah was kidnapped and raped by the prince of the city. When the family protested, the king offered a treaty and even agreed that all males in the city would be circumcised, if the prince could have Dinah as a wife. On the third day after the circumcision, however, Simon and Levi determined to avenge their sister’s attack and slaughtered the men of the city as they had all been complicit in the kidnapping.

Because the Book of Genesis focuses on the development of the Nation of Israel, nothing more is written of Dinah. However, the Midrash offers some insights into her fate. One opinion in Genesis Rabbah 80:11, suggests that she lived afterward as the "wife" of Simon (meaning that she lived under his protection). Baba Batra 15b, Genesis Rabbah 80:4 and Targum Iyov 2:9-10 place her as the unnamed wife of the ill-fated Job.

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