Revisiting Dinah And Shechem’s Marriage

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Not long we published an article on Genesis 34, where we showed that Dinah was married off to Shechem. The careful examination we took off the verse in Gen. 34, we found that Dinah at the time of her marriage was no older than 7-years-old. Prophet Jacob is seen in the Bible happily giving his daughter Dinah away in marriage at such an age. For more information on that article, please see the following link: “Bible: How Old Was Dinah When She Was Married To Shechem?

In this short brief article, we aim to look at the Hebrew text closer and give further evidence from more sources that Dinah at the time of her marriage could not have been older than 8 years old, as the Bible states.

We aim to focus on the Hebrew text of Genesis 34,

“3 He became very fond of Jacob’s daughter Dinah. He loved the girl (NAAR) and spoke tenderly to her.
4 So Shechem said to his father Hamor, “Get me this girl (NAAR) for my wife.”
5 Jacob heard that Shechem had dishonored his daughter Dinah. His sons were with his livestock out in the open country, so Jacob kept quiet until they came home.” – Genesis 34:3-5 GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)

We will focus specifically on Genesis 34:3, where the word “na’ar” is used. This word is also there in the next verse.

Here are some of the Hebrew manuscripts which have the word Naar in there:

“Masoretic Text 34:3
ותדבק נפשו בדינה בת־יעקב ויאהב את־הנער וידבר על־לב הנער

 

Aleppo Codex
ותדבק נפשו בדינה בת יעקב ויאהב את הנער וידבר על לב הנער

 

Screenshot for the above manuscripts (the Hebrew Na’ar highlighted):
naar1

So what is the significance of this word in relation to this article? According to scholastic consensus, the word means a “child” and “infant”. Someone who has not hit puberty i.e., a prepubescent.

Encyclopedia of Jewish Medical Ethics defines the word as someone who is a “minor”, “very young person, including a baby”:

MINOR*
A. DEFINITION OF THE TERM
Katan (minor) and yeled (child are Hebrew terms used interchangeable. The term yeled in the Bible is used for a human being from birth through adulthood, including an infant (tinok), a lad (NAAR), a youth (elem), and even a fetus (ubar). The term Katan refers to a very young person, particularly when compared to an older person. In Jewish law, the term Katan distinguishes a minor from an adult with regard to legal rights and responsibilities. The Halakhic age of a katan is defined differently in accordance with specific laws.
The word naar refers to a VERY YOUNG PERSON, INCLUDING A BABY. The word is also used to denote a maid or servant.” (Encyclopedia of Jewish Medical Ethics: A compilation of Jewish medical law on all topics of medical interest, from the most ancient sources to the most current deliberations and decisions, with a concise medical and historical background, and a comprehensive analysis of relevant general ethical approaches [Translated by Fred Rosner, M. D., An updated and edited English version of the Hebrew 1998/ 1988, edition 2003] compiled and written by Avraham Steinberg, M.D., volume 1, page 679)

Scholars Johann Buxtorf and Franz Delitzsch write on the word Na’ar:

“2. N’r II. Johann Buxtorf connects na’ar with n’r II, ‘shake off.’ A na’ar is a ‘LITTLE BOY, AN INFANT,’ IN THAT HE HAS BEEN ‘FORCED OUT OF HIS MOTHER’S WOMB.’ Franz Delitzsch takes as his starting point the striking use of n’r in the Pentateuch to refer to a FEMALE, concluding that ‘originally it denoted a NEW-BORN INFANT OF EITHER SEX,’ since it ‘is an ancient derived noun with the meaning ‘shaking off, bringing forth’ (cf. Job 39:3), concretely: that which has been brought forth, offspring.’” (9. F. Delitzsch, ‘Pentateuch-Kritisce Studien. VIII, ‘Seitschrift fur Wissenschaft und Kirkliches Leben, 1 (1880), 393-99.) (Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, by (edited) G. Johannes Botterweck, Helmer Ringgren and Heinz-Jozef Fabry, [William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.K., translated by David E. Green, 1998], Volume 9, page 475)

A complete Hebrew and English critical and pronouncing dictionary:

נַעֲרָ na’ar. … A lad, youth, son, a young servant, an INFANT, or NEW-BORN BABE, because just liberated from the womb. Jud. 13:17. Exod. 2:6. Gen. 24:19. 2 Sam. 13:33. …” (A complete Hebrew and English critical and pronouncing dictionary: on a new and improved plan, containing all the words in the Holy Bible, Both Hebrew and Chaldee, with the vowel points, prefixes and Affixes, as they stand in the original text: Together with their derivation, literal and etymlogical meaning, as it occurs in every part of the Bible and illustrated by numerous citations from the Targums, Talmud and cognate Dialects. [New York: Published by Collins, Keese & Co., 230 Pearl Street, University Press – J. F. Trow, Printer, 1837] by William L. Roy (profesor of oriental Languages in New York), page 516 – 517)

Hebrew-English Lexicon:

נַעֲרָ m. (with suff. …; pl. …). – INFANT. – II. BOY. – III. Youth. – IV. Servant. …” (Hebrew-English Lexicon – Containing all the Hebrew And Chaldee words in the Old Testament Scriptures, with their meanings in English [BJT – Maltae terricolis linguae, coelestibus una – London: Samuel Bagster And Sons, Limited, New York – james Pott & Co., 1898], page 169)

A Complete Hebrew-English Pocket-Dictionary to the Old Testament:

נַעֲרָ (na’ar) pt. נַעֲרָ, pt. p. …, to shake, to stir; to shake out. – Ni. … fut. …, to share oneself free from, to get rid of; to be shaken off. – Pi. …, fut., to shake, push, drive away. – Hith. … to shake oneself from. נַעֲרָ (na’ar) m, w.s. … pl. …, c. …, CHILD, boy, youth; servant; male; maid, GIRL.” (A Complete Hebrew-English Pocket-Dictionary to the Old Testament, [Third edition, Berlin – Schoneberg (Prof. G. Langenscheidt), Langenscheidtsche Verlagsbuchhandlung, London, W. C. H. Grevel & Co. New York, The International News company – Johannesburg: Hermann Michaelis, third edition] by Professor Karl Feyerabend, Ph, D. page 218 – 219)

This means as we showed clear evidence in the previous article that Dinah was a child by todays standard when she was given away in marriage.

In conclusion,

The evidence provided in the previous article and this one, once again shows that Dinah, Jacob’s daughter was very young girl when she was given away in marriage. As the evidence lays bare, she was at the time no older than 7-years-old when she was asked in marriage for Shechem. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

Related articles:

(1) – “A Detailed Historical Examination Of Numbers 31:18

(2) – “Age of Consent in European & American History

(3) – “King David’s Marriage To 12-Year-Old Abishag – Bible

(4) – “Marriage of Mary To Joseph the Carpenter!

(5) – “The Age Of Rebecca When She Married Isaac – Biblical Perspective

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References:

[1] Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable:
“What had happened to Dinah was considered by Jacob”s family to be of the same nature as what later was known as “a disgraceful thing in Israel” [i.e, rape].” [Note: Aalders, p156.]
As was customary in their culture, Jacob”s sons took an active part in APPROVING THEIR SISTER”S MARRIAGE (Genesis 34:13; cf. Genesis 24:50). They were correct in opposing the end in view: the mixing of the chosen seed with the seed of the Canaanites. Yet they were wrong in adopting the means they selected to achieve their end. In their deception they show themselves to be “chips off the old block,” Jacob. The Hivites negotiated in good faith, but the Jacobites renegotiated treacherously (vv13-17; cf. Proverbs 3:29; Amos 1:9).
“Marriage was always preceded by betrothal, in which the bridegroom”s family paid a mhd “marriage present” to the bride”s family (1 Samuel 18:25). In cases of premarital intercourse, this still had to be paid to legitimize the union, and the girl’s father was allowed to fix the size of the marriage present (Exodus 22:15-16 16-17]; limited by Deuteronomy 22:29 to a maximum of fifty shekels)…. Here it seems likely that Shechem is offering both a “marriage present” to Jacob and “a gift” to Dinah.” [Note: Wenham, Genesis 16-50 , pp312-13.] …
“The crafty character of Jacob degenerated into malicious cunning in Simeon and Levi; and jealousy for the exalted vocation of their family, into actual sin.” [Note: Keil and Delitzsch, 1:315.]
“Of course, fear is natural in such a situation, but the reasons Jacob gives for damning his sons betray him. He does not condemn them for the massacre, for abusing the rite of circumcision, or even for breach of contract. Rather, he protests that the consequences of their action have made him unpopular. Nor does he seem worried by his daughter”s rape or the prospect of intermarriage with the Canaanites. He is only concerned for his own skin.” [Note: Wenham, Genesis 16-50 , p316. Cf19:8.]
It is interesting that Simeon and Levi referred to Dinah as “our sister” (Genesis 34:31) rather than as Jacob”s daughter, which would have been appropriate in addressing Jacob. This implies that since Jacob had not showed enough concern for Dinah her blood brothers felt compelled to act in her defense. This is an early indication that Jacob”s family was already crumbling dysfunctionally, which becomes obvious when Joseph”s brothers turn on him, sell him as a slave, and lie to their father ( Genesis 37:12-36).”
(Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable – Genesis 34 – online source https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/genesis-34.html )
[2] Few verses in the Bible where the word naar has been used for children. Baby Moses as a Naar:
“When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby (NAAR) was crying. She took pity on him and said, ‘This is one of the Hebrews’ children.'” Exodus 2:6
[3] And:
“Then the woman gave birth to a son and named him Samson; and the child (NAAR) grew up and the LORD blessed him.” – Judges 13:24
[4] And:
“Young men and women, old men and children (NAAR).” – Psalm 148:12
[5] Some children (na’ar) called Elisha bold head, they were ripped apart by bears:
“And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head.
And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.” – 2 Kings 2:23 -24 (King James Bible)

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12 Responses »

  1. Also genesis 46:10 tells us Dinah she had a son called Shaul this is also mentioned on Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers

    What does that tell you

  2. How old is he(Shechem)? When he married?

  3. Excellent article and providing more insight about this marriage incident.
    As Amin was asking about Shechem age and not Dinah!

  4. About the marriage well it is in question …..

  5. ותדבק נפשו בדינה, “His soul became attached to Dinah.” At that time Dinah was eight years and one month old. Our sages (Bereshit Rabbah 72,6) arrive at this conclusion by assuming that Leah’s prayer… that her fetus should be a girl was offered when she was in a state of advanced pregnancy. Dinah was born before Joseph as the Torah mentions Rachel as becoming pregnant after her birth. Joseph was… Joseph seven and a half years old at that time. Dinah was seven months older than he (Joseph was born at the end of a seven month pregnancy) so that made Dinah eight years and one month when she was raped. (Rabbeinu Bahya, Bereshit 34:3:1)

    Torah Commentary by Rabbi Bachya ben Asher, trans. Eliyahu Munk, 1998.

  6. Dinah was not parried of to Shechem but she was raped by them.

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