Calvary Road Baptist Church

“DINAH’S SEARCH FOR NEW FRIENDS”

Genesis 34.1-2

 

We first look at First Corinthians 10.11-12:

 

11    Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.

12    Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

 

The Apostle Paul informed the Corinthians that the event he had related to them was recorded in the Old Testament for their benefit, and of course for ours. But notice the lesson to be learned: “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”

Sometimes people think they know how to handle life, that they are in control and do not need to worry about anything. Paul reminds us that is not the case. Life, most especially your child’s life, is not only very important, it is also extremely fragile. Now consider Second Timothy 3.16:

 

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”

 

We are about to journey back into the distant past, to a time before the discovery of electricity, before the invention of cell phones, before the development of malls, to the good old days. Were they good old days? Were people safer back then? Was there a time when you did not have to look after your kids, when they were relatively safe? My text is Genesis 34.1-2:

 

1      And Dinah the daughter of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land.

2      And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her.

 

Most people are unaware that Jacob, who sired the twelve patriarchs of Israel, also fathered at least one daughter. So Leah, who was the mother of Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun, also had a daughter named Dinah. She is referred to eight times in the Bible, six times here in Genesis chapter 34, but only twice elsewhere. Why is she almost invisible outside this portion of God’s Word? Because of her shame. We are so politically correct these days that no one is felt to be responsible in any way for tragedies that overtake them. However, is that really true?

I have on past occasions mentioned two factors affecting a child’s willingness to become a Christian. Those things beyond parental control are the child’s sinfulness, the Holy Spirit’s persuasiveness, and God the Father’s drawing of the sinful child to Christ. However, those things that are at least partly the responsibility of parents to exercise influence and perhaps even control over are the exposure of the child and the experiences of the child. Of course, I am referring to Dinah’s exposure to the world, that part of the world that a child sees and hears about, and is frequently enticed to participate in. Then there are the experiences of the child in the world.

 

First, WE CONSIDER DINAH’S EXPOSURE TO THE ENTICEMENTS OF THE WORLD

 

Verse 1 reads, “And Dinah the daughter of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land.”

 

You must understand that Dinah lived in her father’s compound, surrounded by brothers, surrounded by servants, and under what we hope was the watchful eye of her father, her father’s two wives (Leah and Rachel), and her father’s two concubines. We should not conclude from these predictable likelihoods that Dinah did not have girl friends to spend time with. Dinah is universally thought to have been about fifteen or sixteen years of age at this time, but there were certainly other girls of her age in the encampment, when you consider the wealth of Jacob and the size of his herds and flocks, and the daughters of those families who worked for her father and brothers.

How was Dinah able to leave her father’s encampment to “see the daughters of the land”? Verse 24 makes reference to the gate of the city, showing to us that she made her way to the city. But how did she get there? Did she sneak away under cover of darkness, or did her parents grant her permission to go? Would her parents have granted her permission to enter the city alone? Perhaps she hitched a ride with a classmate or borrowed her dad’s car. There can be no doubt from the narrative that Dinah went essentially alone, at least without responsible companions. Thus, it was either parental neglect or sneaky rebellion on Dinah’s part that got her into town alone. My own opinion, in light of how closely females are guarded in the Middle East, is that no man in Jacob’s position, or his sons and servants, would ever have knowingly allowed any female to go anywhere by herself, much less his own and possibly only daughter.

Why, then, did she go by herself? Consider that she went by herself because either she could not get any of the responsible girls in the encampment to go with her, or she knew no others would go so she did not even ask them to go with her. That suggests to me that Dinah was well aware of her parent’s wishes. She had full knowledge of the concerns for her safety and welfare her parents, her brothers, and all those who knew her had for her, and for every female.

So, why did she go into town? She had some exposure to life in a city. She knew that there were more things to do, more people to meet, more experiences to anticipate, than the day in and day out drone of life in the encampment. I cannot help but think that she was bored. She wanted new friends. I also cannot but think that she really did not care what her mother, her father, her brothers, and the others, would think when they discovered she was gone. Would they know where she was? No. Would they be concerned? They would be hysterical. Thus, the bottom line was that this girl, who for all we know had always behaved as a model child in controlled circumstances, simply did not care about her parent’s wishes, her parent’s legitimate concerns, or ultimately her own reputation.

Notice, her inclination was to “see the daughters of the land.” Some scholars think there was some kind of festival that was of particular interest to her, and that she wanted to see how the other girls, the girls in the city, dressed on such occasions. But John Wesley wisely speculates, “She went to see; yet that was not all, she went to be seen too: she went to see the daughters of the land, but it may be with some thoughts of the sons of the land too.”[1] We simply do not know for sure. But this we do know: She had some exposure to the city. She had some exposure to the girls of the city. And her exposure greatly tempted her to want experiences that she had not had before.

Parents, you need to be very careful about two things, in my opinion: First, you need to be very careful what your son or daughter is exposed to. What do they see and hear? You need to pay attention to that stuff so you can make pertinent comments and wise observations that will help your son or daughter to see things in their proper light. You want to minimize the tempting of your child by what he or she is exposed to. And try to be around to make appropriate and instructive comments when such exposure does take place. Second, you need to make sure that the environment that you create, the home life you are responsible for, as well as the church life that you need to fully participate in for richness and life, can be seen by your child as a legitimate and God-honoring alternative to the world out there. I am not suggesting that you should always be against everything, but your own life should be an alternative that your own children will want to emulate and copy for their own lives. You do not want kids who grow up to want to be different than you are. Truth be told, I am not very pleased by our efforts with our children when it comes to their exposure to the world. I desperately need your help, your commitment, and your personal involvement in everything we do around here, to reduce (we will never eliminate) the tendencies of our young Dinahs to look for friends elsewhere, to want friends elsewhere.

I look back on my own life and remember that throughout my entire adolescence my life’s goal was to do something that would forever take me away from my parents. Now, in God’s providence, that is how I ended up here in Los Angeles and was converted. But does it not bother you that some of you have children whose goal is get away from you? They may mask their intentions by focusing their attention on a career, or some far off pursuit. But is it not tragic that Dinah had so little commitment to her parents that she had no concern about leaving them? And if you will read the entire chapter you will see that she did leave them. I do not want to be the kind of father my daughter wants to get far away from, unless it is fulfill a call to serve God as a missionary on a foreign field. Somehow and in some way, Dinah was exposed to the enticements of the world. Not as sophisticated and alluring as the world is today, but enough to knock that girl off her trolleys. When you remember that the devil is the puppet master who pulls this world’s strings, then you may get some idea of the danger involved in being enticed by the world.

 

AFTER DINAH’S EXPOSURE TO THE WORLD, HER RESPONSE PLUNGES HER INTO THE EXPERIENCES OF THE WORLD

 

Verse 2 reads, “And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her.”

 

Hold on a second! That is not what she had in mind when she walked to town from her dad’s encampment. All she initially wanted to do, in all likelihood, was take a look at other girls her age, and perhaps meet some of them and talk to them. She may not have anticipated much more than seeing interesting guys at a distance, on her first trip to town. But a powerful young man used to getting his own way saw her, took her, lay with her, and thereby defiled her. How does any young woman today guarantee to me that the same thing will not happen to her when she goes to the mall, or when she goes clubbing, or when she goes anywhere by herself or with a silly fool of a friend in pursuit of some excitement and new experiences?

Please understand that when you yield to the enticement of the exposure you have had to this world, you will experience many new and different things. But if you think you will always have real control over that those experiences are you are deluding yourself. Jewish scholars have long held that Dinah was forcibly raped by Shechem.[2] However, I do not think Dinah was raped, for two reasons: First, Jewish scholars also insist that Adam was circumcised, showing that they have a long history of twisting scripture to conform to their prejudices and to preserve the integrity of their ancestors. However, the most compelling reason for believing Dinah was a willing accomplice, and that she cooperated with Shechem, is found down in verse 26, where we see that Dinah had remained with Shechem after he took her and defiled her.

Thus, some evidence, at least, that she was completely enthralled by this idol-worshiping heathen, caught up in the intoxicating consideration of a new and exciting life, and instantly and without reflection wanting to spend the rest of her life with him. How quickly she was willing to throw it all away; her family, her heritage, and her God. Did she leave her father’s tent wanting to have sex with a strange man? It is not likely. What is likely is that she was enticed by some exposure to the world, specifically that village, small town, or city. But when she gave in to the enticement, and risked all for the thrill of some new experience, she ended up getting experiences she had never planned on, but which would haunt her for the rest of her life.

She met a man who swept her off her feet, giving her thrills and experiences she most likely had not much imagined would ever happen to her. But as an evangelist once said about sin, “It takes you farther than you want to go and keeps you longer than you want to stay.” Little did she realize that by having sex with Shechem she had doomed him. Her brothers sought and got revenge, after deceiving him they killed him and the men in the city, retrieved her and returned her to her father’s tent, where she no doubt spent the rest of her life in seclusion as a defiled woman who was unfit for marriage.

 

What is to be learned from Dinah? Several lessons come to my mind: Parents would do well to deal with what their children are exposed to, as well as giving serious attention to both family life and church life to make sure there is something here for them, so that if they leave here and go out into the world your conscience will be clear in the knowledge that they left for sin and only for sin. Children, on the other hand, have different lessons to learn. But let me focus your attention on a single lesson: When you dishonor your parents by rejecting their standards and disowning their values, when you show your lack of concern for them by yielding to the enticements of the world you have been exposed to, keep in mind that the things you will experience will never be the things you anticipate experiencing. First John 5.19 declares that “the whole world lieth in wickedness,” meaning that the whole world is under the control of the wicked one, the devil. The devil, you see, is a liar. He promises one thing, but he always, always, always, delivers quite another thing. Dinah went to town a girl, still the cherished daughter of her father. The devil promised her some new girl friends and new experiences. That is what she went to town in pursuit of. But what she got was a brief love affair with a man who would be killed by her protective brothers, and who then would forever scorn her and hold her in contempt for the part she had played in the terrible tragedy.

Can a kid make one stupid decision and ruin her life forever? Dinah did. What has happened once can happen again. Mom and dad, make sure your kid does not become a modern day Dinah. Young people, make sure you do not become a modern day Dinah. Purpose in your heart to come to Jesus Christ.

Thankfully, the end of Dinah’s life is not the end of either the story or the lesson. Dinah was one player in a drama that would instruct her little brother Joseph about the personalities of his older brothers, valuable information for Joseph years later after God had elevated him to a position of power and prominence. Joseph knew of the cruelty of his brother Simeon from this episode in their lives. However, even that was not the end of the story. You see, the end of the story takes place 1,700 years later when the Lord Jesus Christ came to meet the great need young women like Dinah had for restoration, forgiveness, and cleansing. Remember the woman at the well in John chapter 4? Five husbands, living with a man she was not married to, yet the Savior met her need for forgiveness and the removal of her guilt. Remember the woman taken in the act of adultery in John chapter 8? Again, a woman in tragic circumstances of her own foolish making, yet the Savior was tender in His dealings with her, was not angry with her, and granted to her the forgiveness of her sins.

The Biblical record provides a history of a foolish young woman who made a terrible decision, whose brothers reacted in a very predictable way, leaving her with scars for the rest of her life. There are more incidents of young men who make similar foolish choices. What God’s Word shows, to those who have made wrong choices and committed destructive personal sins, is that the Lord Jesus Christ forgives such sins and gives life to sinners who turn from their sins and trust Him. Therefore, let us be careful to show the Dinahs of the world, and all their male counterparts, that sin is certainly wrong, certainly destructive, and certainly life-altering. However, the Lord Jesus Christ saves to the uttermost those who come to God by Him.



[1] John Wesley, Notes On The Bible, (Bronson, MI: Online Publishing, Inc., 2002), bible@mail.com

[2] John Gill, The Collected Writings of John Gill - Version 2.0, (Paris, AK: The Baptist Standard Bearer, Inc., 2000-2003)


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pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org