Break The Silence

This is a true story about a scandal that ruined a town and who knows how many families.  Dinah was a new girl in town.  She had a least 9 brothers, and an important father, Jacob.  Her mother was Leah.  It was a very blended family.  She went to town to meet some of the girls in town.  Dinah was old enough to go to town alone yet not supposed to socialize with the Canaanites who lived there.

There is a villain in this story.  He is Shechem, prince in the land, a powerful young man.  He saw her, raped her and brought her hostage into his father’s home. Then he demanded that he marry her and he would pay whatever it cost.  He was a powerful, demanding abusive man.

Father Jacob heard that Shechem had defiled his daughter but he kept silent until his sons came in from the fields.  We don’t know how long this period of time was.   But we do know that when the sons heard it they were very angry and grieved for the disgraceful thing done to their sister.  The sons answered, not Jacob.   Note that into the silence of Jacob, into that vacuum, stepped the angry sons, the same ones who later left Joseph for dead and kept silent about it for years.  They learned that from their family and used it when it worked for them.

We are in a ministry to break the silence.  God broke the silence.  He recorded this story for us to learn the consequences of the sin of silence. I urge you to take this step: to break the cycle of generational sin. Join a local small group or attend an upcoming Open Hearts Ministry event.

Hamor, Shechem’s father went to speak to Jacob.  They wanted to have Dinah marry into their family hoping that eventually they could get into the land, and the wealth of Jacobs family.  Deceiver Jacob was about to be deceived.

But the sons had a plan to deceive Shechem.   They told them that in order to marry their sister he and his father had to be circumcised plus all the males of the city and they agreed.  In the third day after being circumcised, they were in pain.  Simeon and Levi each took his sword and came upon the city unaware and killed every male including Shechem and his father.  They found their sister and took her, looting the city, the wives and their children as they went.

Imagine what Dinah was experiencing.  The death of a whole town and all because she went to town to visit her girlfriends.  I am sure she felt responsible.  But was she?  She did not want to be raped.

She was probably asking herself:  What does my father think?  Why is he silent?  What does he think of me?

v30 records what Jacob said.

Too little, too late Jacob.  You were too long silent.  You did not discipline your sons.  If you had stepped into the gap and spoken for your daughter, a city may have been saved.  And it seems to be all about Jacob, no word for what happen to Dinah.

But the brothers said, Should he treat our sister as a harlot?

Absolutely not.  Nothing is right in this account beginning with Diana going to town alone.  Then the rape, no apology, treating Dinah like a possession to be bought, holding her hostage in their home, the silence of her father, the revenge of the brothers and the destruction of a whole city.

This could be an account from today.  Fathers, mothers and church leadership are still silent over abuse.  But the ripple effect of the rage goes on and on.  It was a blended family, four wives;  jealousy among the wives and the children.  Revenge played out.  Chaos ruled.

But Simon and Levi, the sons who took vengeance into their own hands suffered the consequences;  they were passed over in the blessing with the birthright. (Genesis 49:5)

Yet God kept his promises to Jacob.  He moved him and changed his name to Israel.  But sadness continued.  His wife died in childbirth and his son lay with his concubine. His son Joseph was left for dead and separated from the family.  He failed to discipline his unruly sons.   He returned to his father from who he had been separated for years and his father died.

Do you connect with the story?

Have you been a silent father about sin and the need to protect your son or daughters?

Have you been the one who is aware of the abuse and have held anger and revenge as a way to deal with it?

Were you a Dinah, left with the false guilt and questions:  if only I had not gone to town?

Perhaps you were a father like Hamor who did not discipline a son like Shechem.

Were you a Shechem but did not get caught?

Were you the mother, who is not mentioned here, who had to deal with the grief, the pain, the disruption, the silence and go on living having to deal with the anger and revenge stirring in your own heart for your daughter, and against your husband for his silence.

I am sad that this rape was perpetrated against the only daughter in this family. I am glad that the story is in the Bible.  I wonder why we so seldom hear a sermon about the damage of sexual abuse and the shame that accompanies it.  There are violent crimes against women, girls and boys in our culture.  May we break the silence and not turn our head the other way.

In Leviticus 20: 1-5 (Read it) we are warned to not be silent about sins against children.  If we disregard what happens God will turn his face from us.

Sandy Burdick


  • Pat Keller
    May 3, 2015 (2:49 pm)

    Powerful message, Sandy!


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