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The Defilement of Dina: Uncontrolled Passions, Textual Violence, and the Search for Moral Foundations


In: Biblical Interpretation
Author: Yitzhaq Feder1
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The story of Dinah’s violation in Genesis 34 has elicited radically different evaluations among exegetes. The present article attributes these divergent readings to the existence of distinct voices or moral positions in the text, particularly in relation to the issue of intermarriage. Beginning with a synchronic literary and ideological analysis of the narrative, the present reading will examine whether the multi-vocal state of the text should be best understood as an expression of ambivalence, of redactional history, or otherwise. A key tool in this analysis is the moral foundations theory developed by social psychologist Jonathan Haidt and his colleagues. This theory can help shed light on the ideological tendencies and rhetorical techniques reflected in this text, particularly the significance of the repeated references to the defilement of Dinah. This synchronic reading will also suggest the basis for a diachronic analysis of the story, demonstrating how narrative features of the final form of the text offer clues to the scribal tendencies involved in editing it. Finally, these literary, historical, and psychological dimensions are integrated to better contextualize the paradoxical relationship between defilement and ethnicity in the story.


Abstract

The story of Dinah’s violation in Genesis 34 has elicited radically different evaluations among exegetes. The present article attributes these divergent readings to the existence of distinct voices or moral positions in the text, particularly in relation to the issue of intermarriage. Beginning with a synchronic literary and ideological analysis of the narrative, the present reading will examine whether the multi-vocal state of the text should be best understood as an expression of ambivalence, of redactional history, or otherwise. A key tool in this analysis is the moral foundations theory developed by social psychologist Jonathan Haidt and his colleagues. This theory can help shed light on the ideological tendencies and rhetorical techniques reflected in this text, particularly the significance of the repeated references to the defilement of Dinah. This synchronic reading will also suggest the basis for a diachronic analysis of the story, demonstrating how narrative features of the final form of the text offer clues to the scribal tendencies involved in editing it. Finally, these literary, historical, and psychological dimensions are integrated to better contextualize the paradoxical relationship between defilement and ethnicity in the story.


Genesis 34 is a narrative characterized by a multiplicity of voices and moral positions, and if the state of research is any indication, it is far from clear which of these voices represents the view of the author or final editor of this chapter. Are the contradictory views represented in this story a by-product of its literary history? Or are they an expression of an ambivalent author?1

It will be argued that neither of these explanations is satisfactory. But aside from the search for a “solution,” the very phenomenon of a text reflecting contradictory moral positions demands attention. The present article will attempt to better understand these tensions in light of the moral foundations theory of social psychologist Jonathan Haidt and his colleagues. This research will also be applied to understanding the use of the terminology of defilement in this chapter as compared to the more conventional notions of pollution found elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible.


A further aim is to examine how this analysis of moral foundations can shed light on the biases of exegetes. Of particular interest will be a comparison of the results of synchronic literary readings (including those by feminists) with those of diachronic analysis. While adherents to both approaches have sought to find a pro-intermarriage position represented in Genesis 34, the status of this apparently “liberal” voice requires clarification. Furthermore, it will be shown that a thorough appreciation for the ideology of the final form of Genesis 34 is a necessary prerequisite for reconstructing earlier literary stages. Specifically, it will be argued that the violent exchange between Jacob and his sons has much to teach us about the scribal disposition of the editor responsible for the final form of this chapter.


A Surface Reading of Genesis 34


The first step of this examination is a surface reading of Genesis 34.2 Its aim is to highlight contrary signals in the text, which will serve as the basis for the more detailed analysis of its ideological background that follows.


The story begins with Dinah “going out … to see the daughters of the land” (v. 1), but she is herself seen by a Hittite boy: “Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, chief of the country saw her; he took her, laid her and degraded her” (v. 2).3

Much debate has surrounded the question of whether Dinah was raped.4 At the least, one may say that the choice of verbs hardly suggests a mutually pleasurable sexual union. Furthermore, the broad parallels with the story of Amnon and Tamar in 2 Samuel 13 (see below) provide strong support in favor of the rape interpretation.5 Nevertheless, it should be conceded that the issue of consent – and Dinah’s point of view more generally – has little or no impact on the ensuing plot developments. By designating Shechem’s act as a “degradation” (ענה), any or all of the following aspects (which are not mutually exclusive) are implied: 1) violation of personal boundaries (coercion); 2) violation of societal norms thru extra-marital sex; and 3) deflowering (involving loss of value and perhaps potential marriageability altogether).6 As will be seen, none of these violations precluded a legal remedy.


The depiction of Shechem takes a dramatic turn as his affections for Dinah prove to be more than a fleeting impulse: “His soul clung to Dinah, the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the maiden and he spoke to the heart of the maiden” (v. 3). The three verbs in the present verse correspond to the three verbs in v. 2b. Whereas his conquest of Dinah is described in an abrupt veni vidi vici style and reduces Dinah to a mere object, expressed by the pronominal direct object (“he took her [אתה], laid her [אתה] and degraded her [ויענה],” v. 2), this verse depicts her as “Dinah, the daughter of Jacob” and “the maiden” (twice). The juxtaposition of vv. 2–3 suggests a change of perspective on the part of Shechem, resulting in a desire to pursue a lasting relationship, even if this means making amends post facto for the dishonor caused to her father. So he recruits his own father Hamor to help change his physical “taking” of Dinah (v. 2) into a legitimate marriage: “Take for me this girl as a wife.” These verses leave no doubt that Shechem’s intentions were sincere.


Attention now turns to Jacob’s family who must deal with the ramifications of Dinah’s violation:


Jacob heard that he [i.e., Shechem] had defiled (טמא) his daughter Dinah. His sons were in the field with his cattle, but Jacob kept silent until they came home. Then Shechem’s father Hamor came out to Jacob to speak to him. Jacob’s sons came in from the field when they heard. The men were distressed and very angry, because he had committed an outrage in Israel by lying with Jacob’s daughter – a thing not to be done. (vv. 5–7)


The narrator interjects here several condemnatory descriptions, which offer a point of orientation in viewing Jacob’s passive response.7 Hamor’s interaction with Jacob in the absence of the brothers (v. 6) indicates that Jacob was complicit in Hamor’s plan from the beginning, though this complicity only becomes explicit from Jacob’s outburst in v. 30.8 Jacob’s passive role is juxtaposed with his sons’ vehement response, which the narrator justifies in the form of indirect discourse, stating that the Hivite’s laying with Jacob’s daughter was an “outrage” (נבלה) and something “that is not done.” So even before the negotiations have officially begun, the narrative’s battle lines have been drawn, with Jacob planted squarely in the Shechemite camp.


Hamor then lays out his proposal:


Intermarry with us: give your daughters to us, and take our daughters for yourselves. You will dwell among us, and the land will be open before you; settle, move about, and acquire holdings in it (vv. 9–10, NJPS).


Though this offer is suspiciously reminiscent of the exhortations against intermarriage in Exod. 34:16 and Deut. 7:3, there is no mention of foreign worship here or elsewhere in the story. The language of Hamor’s invitation is re­miniscent of Abraham’s offer to Lot in Gen. 13: 8–9 that “the entire land is before you”(כל הארץ לפניך) , an agreement based on their kinship (כי אנשים אחים אנחנו), suggesting the possibility of establishing a similar bond between the Shechemites and Jacob’s family.9 The positive connotations of the offer are further strengthened by Shechem’s unrestrained enthusiasm in the following verse, again showing that his intentions are sincere: “Ask of me a bride-price (מהר) ever so high, as well as gifts, and I will pay what you tell me; only give me the maiden for a wife” (v. 12, NJPS).


At this point, having received some contradictory signals, the disoriented reader may start looking for a moral compass. In particular, inner-biblical analogies could shed light on the socio-legal conventions presumed in cases of seduction and rape. For example, the law dealing with the seduction of an unbetrothed maiden in Exod. 22:15–16 requires the seducer to marry the girl, but if her father refuses, the seducer must pay him the bride-price (מהר) of a virgin. According to a similar law in Deut. 22:28–29, which deals with a case of sex with an unbetrothed virgin, the man must pay her father fifty shekels of silver and is required to marry her without possibility of divorce, because he “degraded” (ענה) her. This restitution was designed to compensate the father for the loss of value caused to his deflowered daughter and provide her with security.10 On this background, Danna Nolan Fewell and David Gunn draw the following reasonable conclusion: “By this standard, at least, Shechem gives [Dina] the right to be married and more than makes the required restitution to the father.”11

A similar view would seem to emerge from a comparison with the story of Amnon and Tamar in 2 Samuel 13. In contrast to the absence of Dinah’s voice in Genesis 34, the detailed depiction of the shame and degradation caused by Tamar’s rape are vividly expressed in her desperate pleas – first for Amnon to desist from raping her and, post facto, for him to marry her. But Amnon coldy refuses, leaving her “desolate” (שממה, v. 20). As is widely recognized, the numerous linguistic parallels between the two stories suggest that the author or editor of Genesis 34 is deliberately alluding to 2 Samuel 13.12 More precisely, these parallels seem to reflect a deliberate attempt of the author of Genesis 34 to call attention to the divergent responses of Amnon and Shechem. Once again, this inner-biblical comparison implies that Shechem’s behavior was appropriate and commendable. By the same token, this background would seem to indicate that the revenge taken by Jacob’s sons later in the story was disproportionate and highly immoral.13

At this point, Jacob’s sons respond:


Jacob’s sons answered Shechem and his father Hamor with deceit (במרמה), and spoke as they did because he defiled Dinah, their sister, and said to them: “We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to a man who has a foreskin, for it is a disgrace among us. Only on this condition will we agree with you; that you will become like us in that every male among you is circumcised. Then we will give our daughters to you and take your daughters to ourselves; and we will dwell with you and become one people.” (vv. 13–16)


Explicitly, the brothers express willingness to accept Hamor’s offer. The only obstacle is the ostensibly superficial marker of ethnicity – circumcision. If the Shechemites are willing to undergo this procedure, the brothers will embrace them and become a single people. However, by explicitly stating that this response was given deceitfully, the narrator tips off the reader that these words are merely a ploy. Hamor and Shechem take the bait. They return to their village and convince the other inhabitants to circumcise themselves. They succeed by stressing the potential gains of taking Jacob’s family into their fold: “Their cattle, possessions, and all their beasts will be ours, if we only agree to their terms, so that they will settle among us” (v. 23).


Under these false pretenses, the Shechemites fall victim to the zealotry of Jacob’s sons:


On the third day, while they were in pain, Jacob’s two sons, Simeon and Levi, the brothers of Dinah, each took his sword and came upon the city securely and killed off all of the males. They put Hamor and his son Shechem to the sword, and they took Dinah from the house of Shechem and left. Meanwhile, the sons of Jacob came upon the corpses and plundered the city that had defiled their sister, Dinah. (vv. 25–27)


This account of the revenge distinguishes between Simeon and Levi, who kill off all of the males, and their brothers who plunder the village.14 Simeon and Levi reverse the actions of Shechem in vv. 1–2: just as Dinah “went out” from the safety of her family and was then “taken” by Shechem, v. 26 relates that the brothers “took” (ויקחו) Dinah from Shechem’s house and “went out” (ויצאו), returning her home. But if this “rescue” is potentially justifiable, the total massacre and pillaging of the village, described in gratuitous detail (vv. 28–29), have frustrated even sympathetic readers.15

The narrative concludes with the fiery exchange in which Jacob rebukes his sons for their actions. Before examining this climactic yet elusive dialogue, it will be prudent to reexamine the moral positions represented in this chapter.


Moral Evaluation in Genesis 34


The preceding overview has pointed out many of the narrative tensions in Genesis 34, giving special attention to elements in the story which could encourage the reader to evaluate the behavior of Jacob’s sons negatively. These points include:


  1. The seemingly favorable description of Shechem’s change of heart (v. 3).


  2. The legal and social precedents drawn from biblical law and 2 Samuel 13.


  3. The narrator’s portrayal of the brothers as deceitful in v. 13.


  4. The collective retribution against the entire village of Shechem.


These points, which are of differing validity and weight, will be discussed in detail below. First of all, however, it is necessary to discuss the overall ideological framework governing the story. Since a reader’s morality may differ from that of the ancient author, an appreciation for the poetics of the narrative is dependent on an understanding of its underlying ideology, as stressed by Meir Sternberg. Sternberg writes, “Even to judge against the text’s grain, you must first judge with it: receptivity before resistance, competent reading before liberated counterreading, poetics before politics.”16 In particular, the ensuing analysis will focus on the implications of the following: (1) inner-biblical allusions and analogies; (2) the determination of the heroic characters in the story; and (3) explicit narratorial evaluations.


Character Evaluation


Most modern literary analyses of the chapter have rightfully examined the portrayal of the main characters in order to determine which of these protagonists represents the author’s position in relation to the narrative situation. More specifically, the question is whether the conciliatory approach of Jacob or the uncompromising retribution of his sons is intended to elicit the reader’s sympathies. Among those who champion Jacob’s character, Fewell and Gunn view Jacob as representing an “ethic of responsibility,” as opposed to his sons’ self-centered pursuit of family honor.17 Similarly, Bechtel argues emphatically that, compared to the brothers’ “deceitful and explosive reaction,” Jacob represents “the ideal group-oriented person,”18 serving as the advocate of compromise and peaceful coexistence.


These commentators would go a step further and suggest that Jacob’s conciliatory position represents Dinah’s interest and desire. Even if the initial sexual encounter is interpreted as a rape (which Bechtel denies), the description of Shechem’s change of heart and the fact that Dinah remains in his house (considering inner-biblical parallels) would seem to imply consent.19 Along these lines, Fewell and Gunn argue that Shechem “offers her probably the best way for her to handle her life,” since “her best interest within the narrow limits of this society is to marry Shechem, the man who loves her and takes delight in her.”20

Without seeking to spoil the romance, it should be noted that the biblical laws show strikingly little consideration for the maiden’s perspective. In fact, as several recent scholars have pointed out, the laws of Deuteronomy in particular systematically deny the possibility of a maiden’s consent when it is at odds with the societal norm, which strongly discouraged premarital sex.21 Such an attitude would appear appropriate also for understanding Genesis 34, which shows a conspicuous lack of interest in Dinah’s opinion. To the extent that the relationship was contrary to societal norms, Dinah is deprived of a voice by which to dissent. So even if one argues that Dinah wasn’t raped, she was “statutorily raped” from the point of view of the author.


Returning to the depiction of Jacob in the story, it is doubtful that the text can sustain a reading that is either sympathetic to Jacob (Bechtel) or at least ambiguous (Fewell and Gunn). Already at the beginning of the story, Jacob is described as keeping silent upon hearing “that [Shechem] had defiled his daughter Dinah” (v. 5). This value-laden description of the event is in the voice of the narrator, who later supplies several strong expressions of condemnation to justify the reaction of Dinah’s brothers by the “outrage” committed of “lying with Jacob’s daughter” (v. 7). The repeated emphasis on the attribution “Jacob’s daughter” hardly reflects positively on the father. Nor does his portrayal improve in the confrontation with his sons at the end of the story (vv. 30–31):


Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought trouble on me, making me odious among the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites and the Perizzites; my men are few in number, so that if they unite against me and attack me, I and my house will be destroyed.” But they answered, “Should he treat our sister as a whore?”


Jacob does not rebuke his sons for the disproportionality of their retribution, but rather out of fear. Furthermore, his reference to himself no fewer than five times in this passage seems to reflect not caution but cowardice.22 This concern is justifiable but misplaced in the current circumstances, as the narrator shortly points out that Jacob’s sons merit divine protection: “a terror from God fell on the cities round about, so that they did not pursue the sons of Jacob” (35:5).23 Even more importantly, Simeon and Levi are given the last words in this exchange. Yet, what is the meaning of their rhetorical question, and more specifically, who is the “he” implied by the subjectless verb?24 The obvious candidate is Shechem, who seeks rights to Dinah’s sexuality by granting political benefits to her family. By the same token, however, the ambiguous question can refer to Jacob himself, with the devastating implication that he is prostituting his own daughter, perhaps in an allusion to Lev. 19:29: “Do not degrade your daughter by making her a harlot.”25

In short, the unflattering depiction of Jacob in the story undermines exegetical attempts to view the conciliation with the Shechemites in a positive light. Thus, the conciliatory position is left without a viable advocate. This suggests that the author’s sympathies are planted quite firmly on the side of the sons’ zealotry.26 But if this is so, why does the author take pains to portray the offer of Shechem and Hamor favorably? There would seem yet to be grounds for a more “liberal” reading, and this voice deserves further attention.


The Ethnic Dimension


Ultimately, the determination of the underlying ideology of this story is dependent on the recognition (or lack thereof) of the underlying position towards exogamy represented in the text. For commentators who view the Shechemite proposal approvingly, the narrative focuses on personal interests and violations of social norms, but not ethnicity. It is striking, but not accidental, that one’s entire reading of the chapter hinges on this matter.


The characterization of Shechem’s change of heart and his desire to marry Dinah can be most constructively discussed in reference to social and legal precedents. As seen above, inner-biblical comparisons would ostensibly indicate that Shechem’s offer of a bridal price and marriage would be the desired outcome in the case of both seduction and rape. However, this conclusion hinges on the assumption that these Israelite customs would be in force for a Hivite suitor. Though some authors would disparage the relevance of eth­nicity in the narrative context of Genesis 34,27 the possibility that this chapter also alludes to Deuteronomy 7 and its strong opposition to intermarriage with the indigenous Canaanite population prevents this issue from being casually brushed aside:


When the Lord, your God, brings you to the land that you are about to possess, and banishes numerous nations before you: the Hittites, Girgashites, Emorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations more numerous and mightier than you, and the Lord, your God places them before you and you strike them, you shall utterly annihilate them. You shall not make a covenant for them nor have mercy on them. You shall not intermarry (תתחתן) with them: you shall not give your daughter to his son, nor shall you take his daughter for your son. For he will turn your son from following me to worship other gods, and the Lord’s wrath will flare up against you and destroy you quickly … For you are a holy people to the Lord, your God, and the Lord, your God chose you to be a treasured people from all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. (Deut. 7:1–4, 6)


Admittedly, Genesis 34 makes no reference to the worship of foreign gods stressed by this passage, but the reference to the Hivites (one of the Canaanite nations designated for annihilation) and especially the use of the verbהתחתן , which does not appear elsewhere in Genesis, may suggest an allusion. If so, Shechem’s marriage proposal was categorically prohibited. Such a position would fit squarely with the uncompromising response of Jacob’s sons and their harsh retort in v. 31.28

Indeed, there are numerous indications that it is the issue of exogamy that lies at the heart of Genesis 34. This issue is already implied in the first word of the story, the reference to Dinah “going out.”29 It is further expressed in the narratorial remark as to the outrage performed “in Israel” (v. 7). Though seemingly anachronistic in relation to Jacob’s family, this designation serves to focus the reader’s attention on the ethnic dimension. As Frevel points out, this expression suggests that Dinah serves pars pro toto as a representative “daughter of Israel,”30 hence calling to mind Deut. 7:3b: “You shall not give your daughter to his son.”


Perhaps the most obvious indicator is the role of circumcision in the story. This rite serves an ironic function on at least three levels. Most obvious is the phallic justice linking Shechem’s crime to his retribution. A more subtle irony emerges in light of an inner-biblical allusion, which is the only other source which refers to a מהר (“bride-price”) aside from Genesis 34 and the law of seduction in Exod. 22:15–16. In 1 Sam. 18:25–27, King Saul devises a ploy to kill off David at the hands of Philistines by demanding a bride-price of a hundred Philistine foreskins to become a suitor for the king’s daughter (התחתן במלך), but David manages to fulfill the suicide mission unscathed.31 But whereas the bride-price of Philistine foreskins was taken by force (after their killing, one presumes), Shechem in his naïve enthusiasm voluntarily agrees to pay any מהר that Jacob’s sons may require. For this lack of foresight, he not only pays with his foreskin but also leads his fellow villagers to the same demise as David’s Philistine victims.


A third level of irony is the most important for understanding the narrative as a whole. The ethnic significance of circumcision is well known, serving as an external marker distinguishing Israel from the uncircumcised Philistines in the books of Judges and Samuel and as a sign of the covenant and rite of passage by which an outsider can participate in the Israelite cultic community in Priestly writings (Genesis 17; Exod. 12:43–49).32 In Genesis 34, this act is presented by Jacob’s sons as the primary obstacle that prevents the Hivites and Jacob’s sons from merging as “one nation,” but this proposition serves only as a ruse to enable the Shechemites’ annihilation. The real message of this story, as Robert Cohn remarks, is that “not even circumcision can domesticate the Other.”33 That is to say, the would-be act of conversion is employed by the author to make a diametrically opposed statement: there can be no assimilation with the “Canaanites.”


The “problem” of exogamy provides the necessary background for understanding the three-fold reference to the fact that Shechem has “defiled” (טמא) Dinah (vv. 5, 13, 27). Elsewhere the Bible’s ascription of impurity to sexual acts pertains to two basic categories: (1) acts viewed as inherently improper, such as incest, bestiality, and homosexuality (e.g., Leviticus 18); and (2) adultery (e.g., Numbers 5).34 The present source is exceptional in that it employs the verb טמא to describe the effects of Shechem’s relation with the unbetrothed virgin Dinah. Though the reference to defilement here is often explained as resulting from the loss of Dinah’s virginity in the context of premarital sex,35 it is noteworthy that none of the numerous sources which refer to comparable situations employ the language of pollution. The absence of reference to pollution in these cases is readily explained by the assumption that the degradation caused to a maiden by rape, pre-marital sex, and deflowering were conceptualized in economic terms, and accordingly, they could all be addressed by a legal remedy, as noted above. The situation is different if the defilement stems from a violation of Israelite ethnic boundaries. The defilement caused by sex with the Hivite precluded any type of conventional legal resolution. Accordingly, this usage of pollution language displays close affinities to Ezra’s polemic against polluting the “holy seed” through marriages with foreign wives (Ezra 9:2, 11–12) and anticipates the notion of Gentile impurity in Second Temple literature.36

Moral Foundations Theory and the Defilement of Dinah


In the preceding section, I attempted to elucidate the overall ideological tendency represented in Genesis 34. More specifically, I have argued that the author’s ideology, as represented in inner-biblical allusions, character portrayals, and explicit narratorial comments, consists of a focused and unequivocal attitude rejecting intermarriage with “Canaanites.”37 But how can such an interpretation be reconciled with the numerous contrary indicators noted above? Indeed, it seems equally clear that the existence of a more tolerant voice regarding intermarriage is not a mere figment of exegetes’ imagination. Rather, the diametrically opposed approaches to interpreting this chapter in modern research are rooted in a duality of voices represented in this narrative. As will be argued, this problem cannot be resolved either by diachronic literary analysis (see following section) or by assuming an ambivalent author. Instead, crucial insight can be attained by reference to moral foundations theory, which can illuminate the moral dynamics taking place in this disputed narrative and its reception by exegetes of different political persuasions.


According to moral foundation theory, as developed by the social psychologist Jonathan Haidt and his colleagues, moral attitudes derive from a set of innate intuitions. The following is a list and brief description of five foundations which have been identified so far in this body of research:38

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One of the most powerful insights of this theory has been its account for the current culture war between liberals and conservatives in the United States. In brief, it has been observed in experimental studies that a clear distinction can be made between liberals and conservatives in relation to their concern for these moral foundations. Liberal participants based their moral and political decisions primarily in relation to the first two pillars, which address issues of potential harm and fairness. In comparison, conservative participants showed concern for all five categories.39 The implication of this account is that liberals and conservatives tend to talk past each other, because their arguments appeal to distinct moral foundations.


Before proceeding, the purity/sanctity foundation warrants further comment. Horberg et al. offer the following description:


The purity domain encompasses the belief that people ought to be, in their bodies and minds, clean, chaste, self-restrained, and spiritually pure and should strive to live in a sacred, divine way (which does not necessarily require belief in deity). From a purity standpoint, it is virtuous to reject contaminating forces or hedonistic pleasure, to cleanse the soul, and to act in accordance with the “natural order.” It is immoral to behave in a way that is self-polluting, filthy, profane, carnal, hedonistic, unnatural, animal-like, or ungodly.40

Due to the fact that it is the only moral foundation which appeals explicitly to super-mundane realities, the domain of “purity” could be viewed as a catch-all to include various types of religious concern.41 More specifically, I would suggest that purity and sanctity thus construed imply several psychological dimensions.


  1. Essentialism: the assumption that religious categories and distinctions (including notions of ethnicity), which pertain to unseen forces and states, are ontologically real.42

  2. Teleological thinking: the assumption of the naturalness of certain types of behavior as “the way things are supposed to be.”43

  3. Transcendence: the aspiration to achieve a state of spiritual perfection or “higher” levels of sanctity (achieved by exercising self-control over bodily passions), enabling encounters with the divine and mystical experience.44

With purity thus understood, pollution would correspond to improper or “unnatural” behaviors and detrimental forces which threaten to contaminate the sanctifying self.45

Of particular interest here is the role of disgust and notions of pollution in the formation of xenophobic attitudes and ethnocentricity. While evolutionary psychologists have stressed the physiological functions of contamination beliefs in limiting the spread of pathogens between groups,46 our concern is mainly with their social implications as mechanisms for distinguishing the “pure” in-group from the “polluting” out-group.47 In this respect, the metaphysical distinction between pure and impure serves as a force motivating group exclusivity as necessitated by an invisible but nevertheless real dimension of reality (essentialism).48 Put more simply, the threat of pollution serves to establish and secure group – and especially ethnic – boundaries.


This moral psychological approach offers an illuminating framework for interpreting Genesis 34. In light of moral foundation theory, it is not surprising that liberal readers are particularly sympathetic to Shechem’s change of heart and to his father’s offer of mass intermarriage. From the point of view of the first two moral foundations, which emphasize potential harm/benefits and fairness, this proposal offers ample reparation to Dinah’s family and provides her with the opportunity to overcome her personal disgrace through marriage. Moreover, it would establish a state of peaceful coexistence between the two ethnic groups.


In fact, it should be stressed that Hamor’s offer is deliberately portrayed in an attractive light. Nor is it accidental that the Shechemites are not depicted here as worshipping foreign deities. The reason is simple: the author needed to emphasize that the rejection of intermarriage is unconditional.49 Ultimately, the rejection of intermarriage is explainable only in terms of pollution, by the fact that Shechem defiled Dinah. The only adequate response to an argument based on the foundations of harm/benefits and fairness is to appeal to another moral foundation entirely: the sanctity of Jacob’s lineage (Deut. 7:6) and the need to separate from the inherent impurity of the Canaanite population.50 But this argument is often lost on modern exegetes who are unable to appreciate this foundation and thus are inclined to view the response of Jacob’s sons as not only excessive but also utterly senseless.51

Hence, the duality of perspectives represented in this story is not the product of divergent literary layers (as some source critics argue), nor is it an ­expression of ambivalence (as some literary critics argue); instead, it is a deli­be­rately fashioned rhetorical device. The author has incorporated the op­posing viewpoint, which advocated a more liberal view of intermarriage (represented as the contract formed between Hamor and the cowardly Jacob in the story), as a means of conveying the author’s own uncompromising rejection of this position.


These considerations invite us to revisit some of the other indicators which ostensibly encourage a negative evaluation of Jacob’s sons. For example, the characterization of the brothers’ words as deceitful (במרמה) has been interpreted by most commentators as diminishing Jacob’s sons’ standing, and this may be how this characterization was intended originally.52 However, in the context of the story in its present form, this remark can also be read as consistent with the sons’ viewpoint. From a narrative perspective, this characterization makes clear that Simeon and Levi did not act as renegades when they killed off the Shechemites; rather, this was the plan of all the brothers from the beginning.53 The ideological implications of this remark are even more far-reaching. Contrary to what the audience might have thought, the text makes clear that such a conversion was only a ploy and could not serve as a precedent for actual practice, where it would have no validity.54

Likewise, we need to reconsider the depiction of the massacre and pillaging of Shechem, which nearly all modern exegetes interpret in a negative light. The key question is whether the brothers’ actions are negatively evaluated by the narrator. Here it is necessary to recognize that this chapter has clear affinities in language, content, and ideology with late Priestly sources in Numbers that address questions of intermarriage. For example, Numbers 25 portrays the promiscuity of the Israelite men with Midianite women, leading to a devastating plague that is halted by the zealous act of Phineas.55 This event is followed by a divine command to wage war against the Midianites (Num. 25: 17–18), which is carried out in Numbers 31. Importantly, the description of the pillage of the village of Shechem in Gen. 34:27–28 features several parallel expressions to those found in Numbers 31 (especially v. 9) and indicates that the former has been reworked in light of the latter.56 The significant point here is that the seemingly cruel treatment of the Shechemites is justifiable by analogy to the divinely-sanctioned war on the Midianites. Once the reader’s sympathies are aligned with the brothers, a further point of irony becomes apparent: the victims here are those who planned to take possession of the flocks and possessions of Jacob’s family in v. 23.57 More to the point, Shechem and Hamor’s appeal to their fellows was rooted in the realistic assumption that the “one nation” that would result from the intermarriage would be thoroughly Shechemite. As a semi-nomadic minority assimilating within a settled majority, the distinct clan identity of Jacob’s family would quickly disappear. Considering this imbalance of power, the mass killing of the Shechemites could be justified on the premise that the personal vengeance against the leaders of the village was an all-or-nothing proposition.


Nevertheless, it appears that the author – or, perhaps more likely, a like-minded interpolator – was not insensitive to the potentially negative impression which could be elicited by these passages. The references to the defilement of Dinah at two critical points in the story (vv. 13, 27) – which are notably more awkward syntactically than in v. 5 – seem to reflect attempts to justify the brothers’ actions and tip the moral balance back in their favor.58 Once again, the important point to emphasize here is the appeal to the foundation of sanctity and purity to counteract any perceived deficiency in other domains, specifically dishonesty and disproportionate violence. For the more liberal-minded modern exegete, these attempts fall flat.


A Different View of Intermarriage? Diachronic Analysis of Genesis 34


Having clarified the ideological tendencies implicit in the current form of Genesis 34, we are now in a much more secure position to address the tricky problem of differentiating earlier sources or layers. Of particular interest here is the widespread claim that Genesis 34 is based on a tradition which depicts the proposed marriage between Shechem and Dinah in a positive light.59 The issues raised in the previous sections offer a fresh perspective from which to reevaluate these theories.


Starting with the fundamental question of whether a diachronic analysis of this chapter is justified,60 several points strongly suggest that the narrative in its present form reflects at least two layers. In particular, the depiction of Shechem in the report of the negotiations between the two groups raises flags. First of all, the presence of Shechem in vv. 11–12 is not preceded by any notice that he accompanied his father (v. 6). Moreover, the remark in v. 19 that Shechem did not hesitate to “do the thing” disturbs the narrative continuity between vv. 18 and 20.61 These discontinuities have been construed persuasively as indicating the existence of a primary layer or source that is focused on Shechem alone, whereby the collective connubium proposed by Hamor in vv. 6, 8–10 represents a separate layer or source. Furthermore, the terminological parallels connecting the account of pillaging Shechem in vv. 27–29 with the war against the Midianites in Num. 31:7–9 discussed above seem to indicate that the former has been reworked in light of the latter.62 It may be noted already that the issue of exogamy is raised by the Hamor account as well as that of pillaging Shechem (through its parallels to Numbers 31).


Nevertheless, these points do not warrant the conclusion that Genesis 34 reflects the merging of originally independent sources. In particular, the view that the rape (or at least, degradation) described in v. 2b can be exorcised from the original layer of the story remains conjectural.63 If more literary-oriented scholars have sought to exegetically prove that Dinah was not raped by employing a synchronic reading,64 some source critics achieve the same result by literary surgery, reconstructing the earliest version of the story as dealing with Shechem’s romantic desire to court Dinah. However, from a narrative perspective, Shechem’s behavior in v. 3 (i.e., his “soul clinging” to Dinah and his need to “speak to her heart”) makes more sense in the aftermath of a coercive sexual act than of his merely “seeing” Dinah (v. 2).65 Likewise, one cannot isolate within the present text a source in which circumcision does not play a role.66 It is the circumcision (and not an unspecified bride payment) that Shechem rushes to carry out (v. 19), and only by means of the circumcision can Jacob’s sons carry out their attack in vv. 25–26. Similarly, there is no way of reading vv. 27–29 as a parallel account that can stand independently alongside vv. 25–26.67 If such a version of the text once existed (without rape, circumcision, etc.), it must be relegated to a speculative stage of tradition history.


In short, as Abraham Kuenen recognized long ago, Genesis 34 cannot be divided into two or more independent sources. On the one hand, the purportedly early source which focuses on Shechem alone is exceedingly fragmentary by itself, as already admitted by Wellhausen.68 On the other hand, the Hamor strand also cannot stand alone.69 Rather, if multiple layers are to be detected, the secondary layer(s) must be viewed as Fortschreibungen of the original story of Shechem and Dinah. Whereas the original version of the story focused on the personal revenge against Shechem for his treatment of Dinah, the secondary expansion focuses on Hamor’s proposal of group intermarriage as a platform for a polemic against exogamy.70

Strikingly, this distinction between layers resembles Westermann’s source division between a family narrative (A) dealing with the revenge against Shechem and the Hamor source (B) serving as “a precious witness from the early period of occupation of the land that has preserved an episode of peaceful immigration” in Hamor’s offer for intermarriage and coexistence.71 Westermann’s reconstructed B source, which derives its inspiration from Albrecht Alt’s peaceful immigration model, has been reworked through a redactional layer C, which, following Deuteronomy 7, rejects intermarriage. In contrast to Westermann’s analysis, the view adopted here (based on the synchronic analysis above) is that the hypothetical B source is none other than his C source. That is to say, the ostensibly more tolerant voice expressed in the B source (which is suspiciously similar in its wording to Deuteronomy 7 and Exod. 34:12–16) is only a rhetorical tactic devised for the purpose of polemicizing against intermarriage.72

These considerations lead to the following conclusion: contrary to the widespread source- and redaction-critical view, the present form of Genesis 34 offers no trace of an “original” layer which views exogamy favorably. Aside from the negotiation with Hamor which serves as part of the polemic against exogamy, a similar attitude is implied by the reference to Dinah “going out,” the motive of circumcision, and the negative portrayal of Jacob throughout the story. A scholar seeking to reconstruct a more favorable view of intermarriage must assume that the original layer has been so thoroughly reworked that it is now virtually unrecognizable.


Yet this last possibility cannot be so easily dismissed. Assuming that Genesis 34 has been supplemented, as the internal inconsistencies seem to indicate, it is reasonable to assume that the supplementer(s) had an ideological agenda which was distinct from that represented in the earlier tradition. While such an assumption is inconclusive by itself, further evidence from outside Genesis 34 lends it further support. Here I am referring to Jacob’s curse of Simeon and Levi in Gen. 49:5–7. For traditional interpreters, it was taken for granted that Jacob’s curse in Genesis 49 is the continuation of the altercation described in Gen. 34:30–31. One major problem with this view is that Jacob’s curse in Gen. 49:5–7 does not easily fit the narrative of Genesis 34. Moreover, Jacob’s arguments in the two chapters are completely different. In Genesis 34, he rebukes Simeon and Levi for putting his family in danger; in Genesis 49 he criticizes their excessive violence.73

More importantly, the curse in Gen 49:7 seems to imply the killing of a single man. Following a suggested emendation of Yitzhak Avishur, this verse can be translated, “For in their anger they killed a man, and in their desire, a scion and descendent” (כי באפם הרגו איש וברצנם עקר ושור[ש]).74 Even if one follows the obscure MT reading (“castrated an ox”), one is hard-pressed to find reference to the destruction of an entire village.75

In sum, though the references to the brothers’ anger fit the zealous behavior of the brothers in Genesis 34, the details of the rebuke cannot easily be reconciled with the narrative of the mass destruction of Shechem. Here it is tempting to suggest that this rebuke refers to the reconstructed original layer of the Dinah narrative which focused on Shechem alone and included his killing at the hands of Simeon and Levi. Though speculative, this reconstruction finds support from further considerations. Scholars have noted the anomaly of the curses of Reuben, Simeon, and Levi in the context of Jacob’s blessing of the tribes in Genesis 49, arguing that these curses reflect a later reworking of Genesis 49 for the purpose of disqualifying Judah’s older brothers from the leadership position.76 An analogy can then be found in the brief notice regarding Reuben’s sexual liaison with Jacob’s concubine, Bilhah, in Gen. 35:22, an incident which underlies Jacob’s curse of Reuben in Gen. 49:4. The analogy with the Bilhah incident would suggest that the point of the earlier Shechem narrative was to serve as the basis for Jacob’s curse of Simeon and Levi.77

Accordingly, it is possible that the Shechem narrative ended with Jacob rebuking his sons, although it is also possible that Gen. 49:5–7 constitutes this reprimand. In any case, building on the analysis of Gen. 34:30–31 above, one must question the assumption that Gen. 34:30 preserves this rebuke. As noted above, this verse continues the negative depiction of Jacob evident previously in the chapter, particularly in v. 5, and portrays him in a particularly cowardly light. The likely conclusion is that Jacob in Gen. 34:30 is merely being set up to be knocked out by his sons’ punch line in Gen. 34:31.


This reconstruction has some fascinating implications. Methodologically, the case of Genesis 34 would indicate the limitations of diachronic reconstruction. This example poses challenges to the prospect of recovering original literary sources or even removing later “supplements” to the extent that either position would presuppose a conservative predisposition on the part of the later editors to preserve as much as possible from earlier traditions.78 If the earlier form of this story expressed sympathy for Shechem’s proposal and antipathy for Simeon and Levi’s revenge, this position has been pillaged and annihilated from the text with a zealousness befitting Jacob’s sons.79 Indeed, one should ask why an editor who so fervently endorsed the mass murder, rape, and pillaging of the Shechemites would stop short of censuring an earlier ­textual tradition which expressed (implicitly or explicitly, we cannot know) a more compromising view of intermarriage. Hence, the violent behavior of ­Jacob’s sons in the story mirrors and thereby justifies the iconoclasm of the later editor who mercilessly revised the earlier tradition.


An examination of the place of Genesis 34 in the Pentateuch can serve as further “character testimony,” corroborating this profile of the chapter’s editor.80 The patriarchal narratives in the book of Genesis show a puzzling ambivalence regarding the issue of exogamy. In the first two wife-sister episodes (Gen. 12:10–20; Genesis 20), the nomadic Abraham feels compelled to give up his wife in order to survive in a strange (settled) environment. In these stories, God intervenes to save the matriarch from being “taken” by the foreign ruler.81 It is striking that these stories do not seem to be critical of the political use of the matriarch’s sexuality per se.82 In these cases, divine intervention serves to protect the Abrahamite lineage.83 In comparison, Genesis 34 stands out in its explicit rejection of exogamy as a means for physical and economic security, and it is the zealousness of Jacob’s sons – not God – who take responsibility for defending the genealogical “purity” of Jacob’s seed.84

While an explicitly negative view of exogamy is also expressed in the Priestly account of Esau’s marriages to Canaanite brides (Gen. 26:34–35; 27:46–28:9) and in the story of the wooing of Rebecca (Genesis 24),85 the violent attitude expressed in Genesis 34 is unparalleled in Genesis. Its ideology fits more closely with the demands to extirpate the Canaanite peoples in Exod. 34:12–16 and Deut. 7:1–6. Interestingly, Jacob’s pragmatic attitude in Genesis 34 is similar to that of the other patriarchs reflected in the sister-wife episodes. Viewed from this perspective, the position of Jacob’s sons represents a transition from the more tolerant approach represented in the patriarchal narratives to the zealous antagonistic approach found in Exodus and the Deuteronomistic literature.86 If an earlier form of Genesis 34 preserved a more tolerant view of intermarriage, this position has been replaced with an unsympathetic caricature in the final form of the text (v. 30). As such, one may discern in the response of Jacob’s sons in v. 31 a voice critical of these patriarchal traditions and signaling the transition to the next phase of Israel’s historiography.


Defilement and Self-Definition


It is now possible to integrate the ideological, psychological, and historical perspectives of the previous sections. More specifically, we can now examine the view of intermarriage and use of pollution terminology reflected in the edited form of Genesis 34 as part of a historical trajectory, tracing the development of ethnic self-definition by Israelites in the Hebrew Bible.


Israel’s ethnogenesis in the transitional phase between the Bronze and Iron Ages remains a puzzle for historians. In an important synthesis of archaeological, epigraphic, and biblical evidence, Daniel Fleming has recently offered a reconstruction of the emergence of “Israel” as originating in socio-political coalitions between distinct semi-nomadic groups (e.g., Judges 5), which were later retrospectively conceptualized within the framework of Jacob’s progeny (i.e., the twelve tribes).87 Though one cannot rule out the possible role of folk genealogies even in this early period, it remains clear that the social boundaries of “Israel” remained fluid throughout the pre-exilic period.88 Numerous biblical sources substantiate the view that assimilation into Israelite culture during this period was defined primarily by geographical and social boundaries. Just as David’s flight to outside the land was tantamount to worshipping foreign gods (1 Sam. 26:19), so too Ruth the Moabite’s relocation to Bethlehem constituted allegiance to the Israelite God (Ruth 1:15–16).89

This geographically delineated approach to Israelite identity was radically reconceptualized during the exilic period, when the issue of Judean identity became a vital problem.90 Clearly, the very existence of a significant diaspora required a reconsideration of the earlier geographically delineated notion of identity. Leaving aside the complicated issues pertaining to the post-exilic period, it is clear that the notion of genealogical purity reflected in Ezra 9–10 must be viewed within this renegotiation of Jewish identity. Unlike Deuteronomy 7 and related sources, which emphasize the danger that foreign women will cause their husbands to stray from the worship of Yhwh, Ezra 9–10 and Genesis 34 express the view that intermarriage is inherently defiling.91

In this respect, the use of the purity/defilement dichotomy found here and in Ezra 9 signals a significant transformation in Israel’s self-definition; it represents an essentialist conception of ethnicity which is distinguishable from the view of Israel as a mere socio-political grouping. On this point, Mary Douglas has duly stressed the role of pollution in policing social boundaries, especially when they are otherwise compromised due to their ambiguity.92 Paradoxically, the defilement of Dinah serves as the pretense for Jacob’s sons to assert the inviolability of Israel’s genealogical purity in a proxy war waged by the text’s editor against the editor’s contemporary opponents.93 In a manner consistent with the purity/sanctity foundation described above, the sanctity (essentialism) and election (teleology) of Israel finds its concrete expression in the requirement to separate from exogamous sexual relations (transcendence). While this essentialist notion of ethnicity would find advocates in several Second Temple Period documents,94 the Rabbis would later offer a legalistic alternative which would establish criteria for legitimate conversion.95 Simeon and Levi may have been granted the last word in Genesis 34, but the dispute regarding the boundaries of Jewish identity would not be so easily silenced.


1 Here and throughout, references to the “author” pertain to the implied author, as represented by the narrator’s voice in the text. 


2 The literary analysis of this chapter draws especially on the following studies: Y. Amit, “Implicit Redaction and Latent Polemic in the Story of the Rape of Dinah,” in M.V. Fox et al. (eds.), Texts, Temples and Traditions: A Tribute to Menahem Haran (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 1996), pp. 11*–28* (in Hebrew section); Amit, Hidden Polemics in the Hebrew Bible (trans. J. Chipman; Leiden: Brill, 2000), pp. 189–211; L.M. Bechtel, “What If Dinah is not Raped? (Genesis 34),” JSOT 62 (1994), pp. 19–36; D.N. Fewell and D. Gunn, “Tipping the Balance: Sternberg’s Reader and the Rape of Dinah,” JBL 110 (1991), pp. 193–211; P. Kevers, “Étude littéraire de Genèse XXXIV,” RB 87(1980), pp. 38–86; A. Kuenen, “Dina und Sichem,” Gesammelte Abhandlungen zur biblischen Wissenschaft (Freiburg & Leipzig: J.C.B. Mohr, 1894), pp. 255–76; C. Levin, “Dina. Wenn die Schrift wider sich selbst lautet,” in Fortschreibungen: gesammelte Studien zum Alten Testament (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2003), pp. 49–59; J.-D. Macchi, “Les interprétations conflictuelles d’une narration (Genèse 34, 1–35; 49, 5–7),” in G.J. Brooke and J.-D. Kaestli (eds.), Narrativity in Biblical and Related Texts (Leuven: Leuven University, 2000), pp. 3–15; E. Nielsen, Shechem: A Traditio-Historical Investigation (Copenhagen: G.E.C. Gadd, 1959), pp. 240–59; P. Noble, “A ‘Balanced’ Reading of the Rape of Dinah: Some Exegetical and Methodological Observations,” BibInt 4 (1996), pp. 173–204; S. Scholz, Rape Plots: A Feminist Cultural Study of Genesis 34 (New York: Peter Lang, 2000); J. Van Seters, “The Silence of Dinah (Genesis 34),” in J.-D. Macchi and T. Römer (eds.), Jacob: Commentaire à plusieures voix de Gen. 25–36; Mélanges offerts à Albert de Pury (Geneva: Labor et Fides, 2001), pp. 239–47; Y. Shemesh, “Rape is Rape is Rape: The Story of Dinah and Shechem (Genesis 34),” ZAW 119 (2007), pp. 2–21; M. Sternberg, The Poetics of Biblical Narrative: Ideological Literature and the Drama of Reading (Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 1987), pp. 445–75; Sternberg, “Biblical Poetics and Sexual Politics: From Reading to Counter-Reading,” JBL 111 (1992), pp. 463–88; E. van Wolde, Reframing Biblical Studies: When Language and Text Meet Culture, Cognition and Context (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2009), p. 269–353; N. Wyatt, “The Story of Dinah and Shechem,” UF 22 (1990), pp. 433–58; F.M. Yamada, Configurations of Rape in Hebrew Bible: A Literary Analysis of Three Rape Narratives (New York: Peter Lang, 2008), pp. 27–65; Y. Zakovitch, “Assimilation in Biblical Narratives,” in J.H. Tigay (ed.), Empirical Models for Biblical Criticism (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1985), pp. 185–92. For additional studies focusing on diachronic analysis, see the final section of this article.


3 All translation are mine, unless otherwise noted.


4 For the view that Dinah was not raped, see Wyatt, “Story of Dinah”; Bechtel, “What If”; van Wolde, Reframing, pp. 283–96. Though it should be kept in mind that “rape” is a modern term, this does not preclude its use to describe forcible sex in the Bible (Shemesh, “Rape is Rape”).


5 For further arguments and bibliography, see Yamada, Configurations, pp. 35–39, and note also the cogent argument of Shemesh (“Rape is Rape,” p. 4) that Shechem’s need to speak tenderly to Dinah in v. 3 implies an attempt to appease her. 


6 For discussion of this verb, see van Wolde, Reframing, pp. 287–95. The attempt to read this verb as morally neutral (Wyatt, “Story of Dinah,” pp. 435–36, followed by Macchi, “Interprétations,” p. 10) should be rejected out of hand, as can be seen from its use in similar contexts: Deut. 22:24, 29; 2 Sam. 13:13.


7 Sternberg, Poetics, pp. 451–55.


8 It is clear that Jacob was utterly oblivious to his sons’ plot, which is attributed to them alone in v. 13.


9 Levin, “Dina,” p. 54.


10 See also A. Berlin, “Sex and the Single Girl,” in N.S. Fox et al. (eds.), Mishneh Todah: Studies in Deuteronomy and Its Cultural Environment in Honor of Jeffrey H. Tigay (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2009), p. 106.


11 Fewell and Gunn, “Tipping the Balance,” p. 210.


12 See Zakovitch, “Assimilation in Biblical Narratives,” pp. 189–91. However, Zakovitch’s assumption that this comparison is intended to establish a more favorable view of Jacob’s sons leads him to the rather arbitrary view that some of the similarities to 2 Samuel 13 were in the “original” form of Genesis 34 (i.e., those that portray Shechem favorably), whereas the assimilating passages serve to emphasize the outrage of Shechem’s initial act.


13 E. Blum, Die Komposition der Vatergeschichte (Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1984), pp. 212–13.


14 This “doublet” has been taken as a key sign of multiple layers. See the diachronic analysis below.


15 See Sternberg, who differentiates between the evaluations of Simeon and Levi and the other brothers, whereby the misbehavior of the latter contributes to the more heroic assessment of the former (Poetics, pp. 466–73). While the distinction between two parties is, in fact, suggested by the text (see n. 77 below), there is little basis for distinguishing between the two groups’ levels of responsibility, whether for praise or condemnation. For his part, Jacob places the blame squarely on Simeon and Levi (v. 30)!


16 Sternberg, “Biblical Poetics and Sexual Politics,” p. 473 and pp. 481–87; see also Sternberg, Poetics, pp. 441–45, with the “rhetorical repertoire” on pp. 475–81. See also Noble, “‘Balanced’ Reading,” p. 183.


17 “Tipping the Balance,” pp. 208–209.


18 “What If,” p. 35.


19 So Fewell and Gunn, “Tipping the Balance,” p. 200. See also Sternberg’s claim that Dinah has been held captive (Poetics, pp. 467–68).


20 “Tipping the Balance,” p. 210.


21 Already J.J. Finkelstein argued many years ago, based on Mesopotamian laws, that “consent and unmarried women rarely occur together” (“Sex Offenses in Sumerian Laws,” JAOS 86 [1966], pp. 355–72 [368]). See also T. Frymer-Kensky, “Virginity in the Bible,” in V.H. Mathews, B. Levinson and T. Frymer-Kensky (eds.), Gender and Law in the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 1998), p. 92; C. Pressler, The View of Women Found in the Deuteronomic Family Laws (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1993), pp. 38–41; and especially Berlin, “Sex,” pp. 104–107. See also H. Lipka, Sexual Transgression in the Hebrew Bible (Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix, 2006), pp. 173–83.


22 Sternberg writes: “Jacob breaks his long silence only to reveal himself as the tale’s least sympathetic character” (Poetics, p. 473); see also Noble, “‘Balanced’ Reading,” pp. 184–85.


23 Sternberg, “Biblical Poetics and Sexual Politics,” p. 483. Regarding the relationship of this verse to Genesis 34, see Kevers, “Étude,” pp. 38–39. Blum argues that Gen. 35:1–5 stems from a later compositional layer which builds on Genesis 34 (“The Jacob Tradition,” in C.A. Evans et al. [eds.], The Book of Genesis: Composition, Reception and Interpretation [Leiden: Brill, 2012], pp. 193–94). The important point for our purposes is that the author is clearly sympathetic to the sons’ position.


24 For discussion of this verse, see R.T. Hyman, “Final Judgment: The Ambiguous Moral Question that Culminates Genesis 34,” JBQ 28 (2000), pp. 93–101;C. Frevel, “Gen 34, 31–‘Ein stolzes Wort!’?” in K. Schiffner et al. (eds.), Fragen wider die Antworten (Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlagshaus, 2010), pp. 194–209.


25 Sternberg, Poetics, pp. 473–75; Frevel, “Gen 34, 31,” pp. 194–95.


26 An alternative approach, suggested by Noble, is to abandon the search for heroes and villains and take the story as “exploring some complex issues of crime and punishment … through an evaluative portrayal of how the principal characters (mis-)handled the situation” (“‘Balanced’ Reading,” pp. 187, 203). This ambivalent interpretation will be challenged by the analysis below.


27 So Blum, Komposition, p. 213: “Indem der Text hier aus der fiktionalen Erzählwelt heraustritt, weist er dem Fall offenbar seien Ort in der israelitischen Rechtsordnung zu.”


28 Sternberg, “Biblical Poetics and Sexual Politics,” pp. 482–83.


29 See Bechtel, “What If,” pp. 31–32; Y. Shemesh, “Rape Stories and Gender Construction: The Attitude toward Dinah, the Concubine of Gibeah, and Tamar in the Bible, Midrash, and Traditional Commentaries,” Studies in Bible and Exegesis 7 (2005), pp. 315–22 (in Hebrew).


30 Frevel, “Gen 34, 31,” p. 209.


31 See Nielsen, Shechem, p. 253. This irony is strong evidence that circumcision is part of the original Shechem layer of the story (see the diachronic analysis below).


32 See D.A. Bernat, Sign of the Covenant: Circumcision in the Priestly Tradition (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2009), pp. 13–76.


33 R. Cohn, “Before Israel: The Canaanite as Other in Biblical Tradition,” in L.J. Silberstein and R. Cohn (eds.), The Other in Jewish Thought and History (New York: New York University Press, 1994), p. 83; see also Amit, Hidden Polemics, p. 195 for a similar arugment.


34 See D.P. Wright, “Clean and Unclean (OT),” in David Noel Freedman (ed.), Anchor Bible Dictionary (New York: Doubleday, 1992), vol. 6, p. 734; E. Levavi Feinstein, Sexual Pollution in the Hebrew Bible (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), pp. 43–50.


35 For this view and references to earlier literature, see Feinstein, Sexual Pollution, pp. 86–88.


36 Kuenen, “Dina und Sichem,” pp. 273–75; A. Rofé, “Defilement of Virgins in Biblical Law and the Case of Dinah (Genesis 34),” Biblica 86 (2005), pp. 369–75; more generally, see also C. Hayes and her use of the classification “genealogical impurity” (Gentile Impurities and Jewish Identities: Intermarriage and Conversation from the Bible to the Talmud [New York: Oxford University Press, 2002], pp. 27–34).


37 Regarding the identification of these “Canaanite,” women, see Amit, Hidden Polemics, pp. 196–211. See also the similar polemics in Ezra-Nehemiah (e.g., Feinstein, Sexual Pollution, pp. 141–53).


38 J. Haidt and J. Graham, “When Morality Opposes Justice: Conservatives Have Moral Intuitions that Liberals May Not Recognize,” Social Justice Research 20 (2007), pp. 98–116; J. Graham et al., “Mapping the Moral Domain,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 101 (2011), pp. 366–85. In his book, The Righteous Mind (New York: Pantheon, 2012), Haidt adduces an additional foundation: liberty/oppression (pp. 170–76).


39 S.P. Koleva et al., “Tracing the Threads: How Five Moral Concerns (Especially Purity) Help Explain Culture War Attitudes,” Journal of Research in Personality 46 (2012), pp. 184–94.


40 E.J. Horberg et al., “Disgust and the Moralization of Purity,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 97(2009), pp. 963–76 (964); see also Haidt and Graham, “When Morality Opposes Justice,” p. 106.


41 This foundation is actually a reformulation of Richard Shweder’s “divinity ethic,” as can be seen from Haidt’s earlier article with Paul Rozin and other colleagues: “The Moral/ Emotion (CAD) Triad Hypothesis: A Mapping between the Other-directed Moral Emotions, Disgust, Contempt, and Anger, and Shweder’s Three Universal Moral Codes,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 76 (1999): 574–86. The emphasis on disgust as the emotional basis for the purity foundation has been subjected to critique recently; see, for example, E. Royzman et al., “CAD or MAD? Anger (Not Disgust) as the Predominant Response to Pathogen-free Violations of the Divinity Code,” Emotion 14 (2014): 892–907.


42 See S. Gelman, The Essential Child: Origins of Essentialism in Everyday Thought (Oxford:Oxford University Press, 2003). For essentialist views of race, see L.A. Hirschfeld, Race in the Making (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1996); G. Diesendruck and L. Haber, “God’s Categories: The Effect of Religiosity on Children’s Teleological and Essentialist Beliefs about Categories,” Cognition 110(2009), pp. 100–114.


43 See D. Kelemen and E. Rosset, “The Human Function Compunction: Teleological Explanation in Adults,” Cognition 111 (2009), pp. 138–43; J. Rottman and D. Kelemen, “Aliens Behaving Badly: Children’s Acquisition of New Purity-Based Morals,” Cognition 124 (2012), pp. 356–60.


44 See J. Haidt, The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom (New York: Basic, 2006), pp. 181–211.


45 While the grouping of these characteristics as a single “foundation,” particularly under the heading “purity/sanctity,” is subject to question on numerous grounds, these problems need not detain us here. I will address these issues (and the topic of “moral disgust” more generally) in a future article.


46 See, for example, C.D. Navarrete and D.M.T. Fessler, “Disease Avoidance and Ethnocentrism: The Effects of Disease Vulnerability and Disgust Sensitivity on Intergroup Attitudes,” Evolution and Human Behavior 30 (2006), pp. 270–82; V. Curtis, M. de Barra and R. Aunger, “Disgust as an Adaptive System for Disease Avoidance Behavior,” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences (2011), pp. 395–97. For the explicit recognition of the pathogen threat involved in contact with foreigners as conceptualized in the idiom of pollution, see E. Green, Indigenous Theories of Contagious Disease (Walnut Creek: AltaMira, 1999), pp. 64–65, 78–79, 132


47 See D. Kelly, Yuck! The Nature and Moral Significance of Disgust (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2011), pp. 101–136.


48 On the relationship between essentialism and notions of contagion, see Gelman, Essential Child, pp. 316–23.


49 B. Conczorowski, “All the Same as Ezra? Conceptual Differences between the Texts of Intermarriage in Genesis, Deuteronomy 7 and Ezra,” in C. Frevel (ed.), Mixed Marriages: Intermarriage and Group Identity in the Second Temple Period (New York: T & T Clark, 2011), pp. 100–107.


50 Compare Sternberg’s criticism of Fewell and Gunn: “In the process, the all-important ideological issue (the nexus of marriage and election) disappears from view, either sinking into oblivion altogether or secularized (modernized?) into interpersonal relations. Thus the brothers’ sense of what the text calls ‘outrage’ and ‘defilement’ and ‘disgrace’ gets reduced to a point of ‘honor’” (“Poetics and Politics,” p. 481).


51 See Brueggemann’s assessment: “In this narrative, Jacob is the seasoned voice of maturity. He has lived a long time. He has not flinched from conflicts as they have come to him. But now he rebukes such a childish religion which will endanger its own life rather than face realities” (Genesis [Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1982], p. 278).


52 See n. 66 below regarding the possibility that this comment belongs to the original Shechem layer. A pejorative sense is accepted even by Sternberg, Poetics, pp. 458–59, though he views the immediately following remark “because he defiled Dinah” as softening this negative evaluation. The early Aramaic targumim evaded these connotations by translating בחכמא as “with wisdom.” Ultimately, the interpretation of this remark requires consideration of the theme of deceit in other narratives; see S. Niditch, A Prelude to Biblical Folklore: Underdogs and Tricksters (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2000).


53 Interestingly, a contrary tradition appears in the manuscript evidence of the Testament of Levi; it depicts the initial offer of circumcision as sincere. See J. Kugel, “The Story of Dinah in the ‘Testament of Levi’,” HTR 85 (1992), pp. 6–12.


54 Amit, Hidden Polemics, p. 195; Conczorowski, “All the Same as Ezra?” p. 106. An even weightier allegation could be raised against Jacob’s sons for violating their agreement when compared to the covenant made with the Gibeonites in Joshua 9, which was taken as binding despite the Gibeonites’ duplicity. However, it should be noted that the covenant (ברית) with the Gibeonites derives its authority from an oath; both of these concepts are conspicuously absent in Genesis 34. Moreover, the fact that Joshua 9 depicts the Gibeonites as Hivites (v. 9) using a ploy to survive suggests a contrary interpretation: does Genesis 34 hint that turnabout is fair play against the duplicitous Hivites?


55 Regarding this chapter, see C. Nihan, “The Priestly Covenant, Its Reinterpretations, and the Composition of ‘P’,” in S. Shechtman and J.S. Baden (eds.), The Strata of the Priestly Writings: Contemporary Debate and Future Directions (Zürich: Theologischer Verlag; 2009), pp. 116–26; I. Kislev, “P, Source or Redaction: The Evidence of Numbers 25,” in T.B. Dozeman et al. (eds.), The Pentateuch: International Perspectives in Current Research (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2011), pp. 387–99.


56 Kuenen, “Dina,” p. 270; Van Seters, “Silence,” p. 242. The conclusion that Gen. 34:25–29 has been modeled after Num. 31:7–9 emerges from the recognition that the text of the latter reads more smoothly, both grammatically and narratively. The shared expressions include “they killed every male” (ויהרגו כל זכר); “on the(ir) corpses” (על החללים\חלליהם); “they took captive all of the children and the women” (ואת כל טפם ואת נשיהם שבו); “the Israelites took captive the Midianite women and children” (וישבו בני ישראל את נשי מדין ואת טפם); “they pillaged all of their possessions” (ואת כל חילם בזזו). Notably, the verbal form ויבזו, which parallels בזזו in Num. 31:9, appears twice in Gen. 34:27, 29. Even more striking, the expression ואת כל חילם in the latter verse is orphaned between the descriptions of pillaging (in vv. 28, 29b) and taking captive (v. 29a), so that it is clearly out of place. Moreover, v. 29b is problematic both in its syntax (according to MT: ויבזו ואת כל אשר בבית) and in its narrative position, perhaps suggesting the original continuation of the actions in the house of Shechem (and Hamor) described in vv. 26–27. Though a precise reconstruction of Genesis 34 will not be attempted here, these are clearly some of the tracks left by its editor.


57 As Nielsen comments, “The underlying principle is undeniably of ius talionis” (Shechem, p. 258).


58 See Sternberg’s interpretation of v. 13, though he takes the expression as ironic in v. 27 (Poetics, pp. 258–63, 271–72).


59 For some more recent advocates of this view, see Zakovich, “Assimilation”; Macchi, “Interprétations”; Van Seters, “Silence”; Levin, “Dina,” pp. 49–51.


60 For modern scholars who argue for the essential unity of the chapter, see Nielsen, Shechem, pp. 241–59; Kevers, “Étude,” pp. 38–47; R. Parry, “Source Criticism & Genesis 34,” Tyndale Bulletin 51 (2000), pp. 121–38.


61 These points are rightfully highlighted by Blum, Komposition, p. 213, along with a few more subtle textual inconsistencies.


62 See n. 56 above.


63 For this view, see J. Wellhausen, Die Composition des Hexateuchs und der historischen Bücher des Alten Testaments (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1963), p. 47 n. 1; Zakovich, “Assimilation,” pp. 187–88; Levin, “Dina,” pp. 50–51. See also Scholz, Rape Plots, pp. 102–105.


64 See n. 4 above.


65 The syntactic parallelism between vv. 2–3 also militates against this view. Regarding the common objection that affection is not likely to follow rape (or coercion), see Shemesh, “Rape is Rape,” pp. 7–9.


66 The view that the original Shechem account lacked circumcision was argued by Wellhausen (Composition, p. 47 in reference to vv. 11–12) and accepted by Kuenen (“Dina,” p. 273). See the critique in Nielsen, Shechem, pp. 253–55; C. Westermann, Genesis 12–36: A Commentary (trans. J.J. Scullion; Minneapolis: Ausberg Publishing, 1985), p. 541; M. Rose, Deuteronomist und Yahwist: Untersuchungen zu den Berührungspunkten beider Literaturwerke (Zürich: Theologischer Verlag, 1981), p. 206. See also n. 31 above.


67 Westermann also concedes that the Hamor source lacks an ending (Genesis, pp. 542–43).


68Composition, p. 47.


69 See n. 67 above.


70 Kuenen, “Dina”; M. Noth, Überlieferungsgeschichte des Pentateuch (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1948), p. 31 n. 99; Blum, Komposition, p. 214; Van Seters, “Silence.”


71Genesis, pp. 535–45 (545).


72 So Rose, Deuteronomist, p. 205–206.


73 This is true even if Avishur’s plausible change of word divisions in v. 5 is accepted: שמעון ולוי אחים כל יחמס מכרתיהם (“Simeon and Levi are brothers; everyone will expropriate their habitations”). See Y. Avishur, “Jacob’s Cursing of Simeon and Levi (Genesis 49: 5–7): A New Reading of the Text, Its Literary and Historical Background and its Ideological Purpose,” in M.I. Gruber et al. (eds.) Teshura le-Zafrira: Studies in the Bible, the History of Israel and the Ancient Near East Presented to Zafrira Ben-Barak (Beer Sheva: Ben Gurion University of the Negev Press, 2012), pp. 1–12 (in Hebrew; English summary: pp. 91*–92*), and compare Hab. 1:9: כלה לחמס יבוא. This reading preserves the attested sense of *מכרה as “territory, inheritance” (Ezek. 16:3; 21:35; 29:14) and establishes an inclusio with v. 7b: “I will divide them in Jacob, Scatter them in Israel.” See also the common rendering, “weapons of violence,” that is based on MT’s כלי חמס and assumes a derivation from the Greek μάχαιρα (“dagger”), as defended by O. Margalith in “Mekērōtēhem (Genesis XLIX 5),” VT 34 (1984), pp. 101–102.


74 Avishur, “Jacob’s Cursing.” A slight variation would be עקרו שור[ש] (“uprooted a planting”).


75 Thus, the view that the reworking of Gen. 49:5–7 (see below) is based on Genesis 34 in its current form (U. Schorn, Ruben und das System der Zwölf Stämme Israels [Berlin: de Gruyter, 1997], p. 259) is untenable.


76 See D.M. Carr, Reading the Fractures of Genesis (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1996), pp. 250–53; J-D. Macchi, Israël et ses tribus selon Genèse 49 (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1999), pp. 41–80, 301–304; K. Sparks, “Genesis 49 and the Tribal List Tradition in Ancient Israel,” ZAW 115 (2003), pp. 327–47.


77 Some scholars have suggested that the focus on Simeon and Levi in Gen. 34:25, 31 reflects a later reworking with the aim of harmonizing it with Genesis 49 (e.g., Amit, “Implicit Redaction,” pp. 15*–16*; Kevers, “Étude,” p. 43; Schorn, Ruben, pp. 256–60). Several problems can be found with this proposal. First, it would assume that Jacob’s curse in Gen. 49:5–7 was originally unrelated to Genesis 34 and remove the analogy to Reuben’s sin with Bilhah in Gen. 35:22. Furthermore, some textual indications in Genesis 34 would support assuming that Simeon and Levi are not so easily extricated from the text. The exceptional designation of Dinah as “the daughter of Leah” in v. 1 is best understood in conjunction with Simeon and Levi’s sympathies for their full sister’s plight (so Nahmanides on v. 1), and may perhaps illuminate the ostensibly superfluous clause “Simeon and Levi are brothers” in Gen. 49:5a. The front positioning of the subject in v. 27 “sons of Jacob” (with a וי”ו in SP, Pesh., and apparently LXX) before the verb also suggests a contrast between two parties (P. Joüon and T. Muraoka, A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew [Rome: Gregorian & Biblical, 2009], vol. 2, pp. 546–47 [§155nb]; see also Nielsen, Shechem, p. 256; Blum, Vätergeschichte, p. 215 n. 22).


78 See D.M. Carr, The Formation of the Hebrew Bible (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), pp. 102–149.


79 So already Kuenen, who suggested that the later redactor “mutilated” (verstümmelt) the earlier source (p. 264), and represents a “radikale Umarbeitung” (“Dina,” p. 273).


80 Several scholars have identified this supplementary layer with a late priestly faction on the basis of its view of intermarriage and terminological parallels, especially with Genesis 17 (in v. 15) and Numbers 31 (in vv. 27–29), including Kuenen, “Dina,” pp. 269–76; Amit, Hidden Polemics, pp. 206–211; Van Seters, “Silence,” pp. 241–42. However, Rose has pointed some striking affinities to Deuteronomistic sources that deserve serious consideration (Deuteronomist, pp. 204–211).


81 To be precise, Gen. 20:6 is explicit in this regard. The point at which God intervenes is not clearly stated in Genesis 12.


82 See Gen. 20:12, where the problem of lying is thematized. It is noteworthy that the third sister-wife story (Genesis 26) does not involve Rebecca being taken by the foreign (Philistine) ruler; this may reflect sensitivity to the issue of exogamy.


83 See N. Steinberg, “Alliance or Descent? The Function of Marriage in Genesis,” JSOT 51 (1991), pp. 45–55.


84 See J. Pitt-Rivers, The Fate of Shechem and the Politics of Sexuality (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977), and especially Cohn, “Before Israel,” p. 79–84. One may add that the problem of exogamy in Genesis is inextricably tied to the question of hegemony. Many commentators (e.g., Fewell and Gunn, “Tipping the Balance,” p. 206; Feinstein, Sexual Pollution, p. 83) have resisted the view that Shechem’s violation is related to ethnicity with the argument that Jacob’s sons themselves married foreign wives, some of whom are explicitly designated as Canaanite (38:3; 46:10). However, this problem cannot be resolved either by assuming that exogamy was wholly accepted or that it was categorically rejected (Sternberg, “Biblical Poetics and Sexual Politics,” pp. 484–87). Aside from the obvious point that different sources may reflect divergent ideologies, it also should be stressed that the issue of political hegemony is crucial in distinguishing legitimate from illegitimate unions. As far as Genesis 34 is concerned, despite the fact that mass intermarriage is rejected because it will result in the assimilation of Jacob’s family within the majority Shechemite population, the brothers have no qualms about taking the Hivite women for themselves once they have killed off the males (v. 29).


85 For discussion of these passages, see Conczorowski, “All the Same,” pp. 90–98.


86 So already A. de Pury, “Le cycle de Jacob comme légende autonome des origes d’Israël,” in Die Patriarchen und die Priesterschrift (Zürich: Theologischer Verlag Zürich, 2010), pp. 104–105, and more generally, K. Schmid, Genesis and the Moses Story: Israel’s Dual Origins in the Hebrew Bible (trans. J.D. Nogalski; Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2010), pp. 145–47. See also G.N. Knoppers, “Sex, Religion, and Politics: The Deuteronomist on Intermarriage,” HTR 14 (1994), pp. 121–41.


87 See D.E. Fleming, The Legacy of Israel in Judah’s Bible (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013); for further discussion, see K. Sparks, Ethnicity and Identity in Ancient Israel (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 1998); A. Faust, Israel’s Ethnogenesis: Settlement, Interaction, Expansion and Resistance (London: Equinox, 2006).


88 See S.J.D. Cohen, The Beginnings of Jewishness: Boundaries, Varieties, Uncertainties (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), pp. 264–66.


89 Even if Ruth is assumed to be written in a later period, it seems to accurately portray the mode of social assimilation existent in the pre-exilic period. See Amit, Hidden Polemics, pp. 84–87.


90 See R. Rothenbusch, “The Question of Mixed Marriages between the Poles of Diaspora and Homeland: Observations in Ezra-Nehemiah,” in C. Frevel (ed.), Mixed Marriages, pp. 60–77.


91 For further discussion, see M.G. Brett, “The Politics of Marriage in Genesis,” in D.J.A. Clines, K.H. Richards and J.L. Wright(eds.), Making a Difference: Essays on Bible and Judaism in Honor of Tamara Cohn Eskenazi (Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix, 2012), pp. 49–59.


92Purity and Danger: An Analysis of the Concepts of Pollution and Taboo (London: Routledge, 1966), 131–33.


93 See Feinstein, who misses the ethnic overtones of Dinah’s defilement and thus claims, “Due to this turn of events – almost by accident – Israel remains a distinct people separate from its Canaanite neighbors” (Sexual Pollution, p. 85). See also K.E. Southwood, Ethnicity and the Intermarriage Crisis in Ezra 9–10 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).


94 See C. Frevel, “‘Separate Yourself from the Gentiles’ (Jubilees 22:16): Intermarriage in the Book of Jubilees,” in C. Frevel (ed.), Mixed Marriages, pp. 220–50.


95 See Hayes, Gentile Impurities, pp. 164–92.

  • 7

     Sternberg, Poetics, pp. 451–55.

  • 9

     Levin, “Dina,” p. 54.

  • 11

     Fewell and Gunn, “Tipping the Balance,” p. 210.

  • 12

     See Zakovitch, “Assimilation in Biblical Narratives,” pp. 189–91. However, Zakovitch’s assumption that this comparison is intended to establish a more favorable view of Jacob’s sons leads him to the rather arbitrary view that some of the similarities to 2 Samuel 13 were in the “original” form of Genesis 34 (i.e., those that portray Shechem favorably), whereas the assimilating passages serve to emphasize the outrage of Shechem’s initial act.

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  • 13

     E. Blum, Die Komposition der Vatergeschichte (Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1984), pp. 212–13.

  • 16

     Sternberg, “Biblical Poetics and Sexual Politics,” p. 473 and pp. 481–87; see also Sternberg, Poetics, pp. 441–45, with the “rhetorical repertoire” on pp. 475–81. See also Noble, “‘Balanced’ Reading,” p. 183.

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  • 19

     So Fewell and Gunn, “Tipping the Balance,” p. 200. See also Sternberg’s claim that Dinah has been held captive (Poetics, pp. 467–68).

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  • 23

     Sternberg, “Biblical Poetics and Sexual Politics,” p. 483. Regarding the relationship of this verse to Genesis 34, see Kevers, “Étude,” pp. 38–39. Blum argues that Gen. 35:1–5 stems from a later compositional layer which builds on Genesis 34 (“The Jacob Tradition,” in C.A. Evans et al. [eds.], The Book of Genesis: Composition, Reception and Interpretation [Leiden: Brill, 2012], pp. 193–94). The important point for our purposes is that the author is clearly sympathetic to the sons’ position.

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  • 25

     Sternberg, Poetics, pp. 473–75; Frevel, “Gen 34, 31,” pp. 194–95.

  • 28

     Sternberg, “Biblical Poetics and Sexual Politics,” pp. 482–83.

  • 29

     See Bechtel, “What If,” pp. 31–32; Y. Shemesh, “Rape Stories and Gender Construction: The Attitude toward Dinah, the Concubine of Gibeah, and Tamar in the Bible, Midrash, and Traditional Commentaries,” Studies in Bible and Exegesis 7 (2005), pp. 315–22 (in Hebrew).

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  • 30

     Frevel, “Gen 34, 31,” p. 209.

  • 31

     See Nielsen, Shechem, p. 253. This irony is strong evidence that circumcision is part of the original Shechem layer of the story (see the diachronic analysis below).

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  • 32

     See D.A. Bernat, Sign of the Covenant: Circumcision in the Priestly Tradition (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2009), pp. 13–76.

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  • 36

     Kuenen, “Dina und Sichem,” pp. 273–75; A. Rofé, “Defilement of Virgins in Biblical Law and the Case of Dinah (Genesis 34),” Biblica 86 (2005), pp. 369–75; more generally, see also C. Hayes and her use of the classification “genealogical impurity” (Gentile Impurities and Jewish Identities: Intermarriage and Conversation from the Bible to the Talmud [New York: Oxford University Press, 2002], pp. 27–34).

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  • 38

     J. Haidt and J. Graham, “When Morality Opposes Justice: Conservatives Have Moral Intuitions that Liberals May Not Recognize,” Social Justice Research 20 (2007), pp. 98–116; J. Graham et al., “Mapping the Moral Domain,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 101 (2011), pp. 366–85. In his book, The Righteous Mind (New York: Pantheon, 2012), Haidt adduces an additional foundation: liberty/oppression (pp. 170–76).

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  • 39

     S.P. Koleva et al., “Tracing the Threads: How Five Moral Concerns (Especially Purity) Help Explain Culture War Attitudes,” Journal of Research in Personality 46 (2012), pp. 184–94.

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  • 40

     E.J. Horberg et al., “Disgust and the Moralization of Purity,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 97(2009), pp. 963–76 (964); see also Haidt and Graham, “When Morality Opposes Justice,” p. 106.

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  • 43

     See D. Kelemen and E. Rosset, “The Human Function Compunction: Teleological Explanation in Adults,” Cognition 111 (2009), pp.138–43; J. Rottman and D. Kelemen, “Aliens Behaving Badly: Children’s Acquisition of New Purity-Based Morals,” Cognition 124 (2012), pp. 356–60.

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  • 44

     See J. Haidt, The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom (New York: Basic, 2006), pp. 181–211.

  • 47

     See D. Kelly, Yuck! The Nature and Moral Significance of Disgust (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2011), pp. 101–136.

  • 54

     Amit, Hidden Polemics, p. 195; Conczorowski, “All the Same as Ezra?” p. 106. An even weightier allegation could be raised against Jacob’s sons for violating their agreement when compared to the covenant made with the Gibeonites in Joshua 9, which was taken as binding despite the Gibeonites’ duplicity. However, it should be noted that the covenant (ברית) with the Gibeonites derives its authority from an oath; both of these concepts are conspicuously absent in Genesis 34. Moreover, the fact that Joshua 9 depicts the Gibeonites as Hivites (v. 9) using a ploy to survive suggests a contrary interpretation: does Genesis 34 hint that turnabout is fair play against the duplicitous Hivites?

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  • 56

     Kuenen, “Dina,” p. 270; Van Seters, “Silence,” p. 242. The conclusion that Gen. 34:25–29 has been modeled after Num. 31:7–9 emerges from the recognition that the text of the latter reads more smoothly, both grammatically and narratively. The shared expressions include “they killed every male” (ויהרגו כל זכר); “on the(ir) corpses” (על החללים\חלליהם); “they took captive all of the children and the women” (ואת כל טפם ואת נשיהם שבו); “the Israelites took captive the Midianite women and children” (וישבו בני ישראל את נשי מדין ואת טפם); “they pillaged all of their possessions” (ואת כל חילם בזזו). Notably, the verbal form ויבזו, which parallels בזזו in Num. 31:9, appears twice in Gen. 34:27, 29. Even more striking, the expression ואת כל חילם in the latter verse is orphaned between the descriptions of pillaging (in vv. 28, 29b) and taking captive (v. 29a), so that it is clearly out of place. Moreover, v. 29b is problematic both in its syntax (according to MT: ויבזו ואת כל אשר בבית) and in its narrative position, perhaps suggesting the original continuation of the actions in the house of Shechem (and Hamor) described in vv. 26–27. Though a precise reconstruction of Genesis 34 will not be attempted here, these are clearly some of the tracks left by its editor.

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  • 63

     For this view, see J. Wellhausen, Die Composition des Hexateuchs und der historischen Bücher des Alten Testaments (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1963), p. 47 n. 1; Zakovich, “Assimilation,” pp. 187–88; Levin, “Dina,” pp. 50–51. See also Scholz, Rape Plots, pp. 102–105.

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  • 72

     So Rose, Deuteronomist, p. 205–206.

  • 76

     See D.M. Carr, Reading the Fractures of Genesis (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1996), pp. 250–53; J-D. Macchi, Israël et ses tribus selon Genèse 49 (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1999), pp. 41–80, 301–304; K. Sparks, “Genesis 49 and the Tribal List Tradition in Ancient Israel,” ZAW 115 (2003), pp. 327–47.

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  • 78

     See D.M. Carr, The Formation of the Hebrew Bible (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), pp. 102–149.

  • 83

     See N. Steinberg, “Alliance or Descent? The Function of Marriage in Genesis,” JSOT 51 (1991), pp. 45–55.

  • 84

     See J. Pitt-Rivers, The Fate of Shechem and the Politics of Sexuality (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977), and especially Cohn, “Before Israel,” p. 79–84. One may add that the problem of exogamy in Genesis is inextricably tied to the question of hegemony. Many commentators (e.g., Fewell and Gunn, “Tipping the Balance,” p. 206; Feinstein, Sexual Pollution, p. 83) have resisted the view that Shechem’s violation is related to ethnicity with the argument that Jacob’s sons themselves married foreign wives, some of whom are explicitly designated as Canaanite (38:3; 46:10). However, this problem cannot be resolved either by assuming that exogamy was wholly accepted or that it was categorically rejected (Sternberg, “Biblical Poetics and Sexual Politics,” pp. 484–87). Aside from the obvious point that different sources may reflect divergent ideologies, it also should be stressed that the issue of political hegemony is crucial in distinguishing legitimate from illegitimate unions. As far as Genesis 34 is concerned, despite the fact that mass intermarriage is rejected because it will result in the assimilation of Jacob’s family within the majority Shechemite population, the brothers have no qualms about taking the Hivite women for themselves once they have killed off the males (v. 29).

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  • 86

     So already A. de Pury, “Le cycle de Jacob comme légende autonome des origes d’Israël,” in Die Patriarchen und die Priesterschrift (Zürich: Theologischer Verlag Zürich, 2010), pp. 104–105, and more generally, K. Schmid, Genesis and the Moses Story: Israel’s Dual Origins in the Hebrew Bible (trans. J.D. Nogalski; Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2010), pp. 145–47. See also G.N. Knoppers, “Sex, Religion, and Politics: The Deuteronomist on Intermarriage,” HTR 14 (1994), pp. 121–41.

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  • 87

     See D.E. Fleming, The Legacy of Israel in Judah’s Bible (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013); for further discussion, see K. Sparks, Ethnicity and Identity in Ancient Israel (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 1998); A. Faust, Israel’s Ethnogenesis: Settlement, Interaction, Expansion and Resistance (London: Equinox, 2006).

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  • 88

     See S.J.D. Cohen, The Beginnings of Jewishness: Boundaries, Varieties, Uncertainties (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), pp. 264–66.

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  • 95

     See Hayes, Gentile Impurities, pp. 164–92.

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