TUESDAY ROSE BUSHES – TAKEN FOR GRANTED
Being closer to two of her brothers, Simeon and Levi, she had confided in them about her boredom. She was tired of being the only girl in the family; one treated like a golden egg. When she asked to go to the ladies of the land, her mother, Leah, called her worldly and ungrateful.
Leah, the matriarch of the family, and Dinah, much as they were supposed to be intimate, were not. Her mother had advised her to mix with the maiden girls if she was so discontented. But Dinah found it demeaning to her status to move around with slaves and servants. Or children of lesser mortals.
“It’s a beautiful day to play in the fields,” Levi said behind her, causing her to jump in fright.
She clutched the front of her purple and gold tunic to her chest and stifled a scream. “You scared me, Levi,” she said. “Why are you home?”
“I’m sorry.” He smiled. “I did not mean to scare you. I’m picking up some supplies for our brothers out with the cattle.” He squinted. “Have you been crying again?”
She looked away, and he turned her face back to him, gently.
She sighed. “I wish I could be married.”
Her brothers took any women they wished and no one stopped them. Why couldn’t she be allowed such freedom?
“Why don’t you take your maids and go for a walk in the plains,” he said. “Get away from the house for a few minutes.”
“Father won’t allow it.” Dinah looked away again. Tears pooled in her eyes. She hated it. She hated her life. Would life not have been more bearable if she was one of the servants of her father, or better still, a heathen!
The heathens did not have God’s promises and blessings but they were free to live as they so wished. What that would be like, she wondered.
Levi touched her shoulder. “Go. I’ll cover your back… just for a couple of hours only!” Levi said. “I have to get back to the men, you understand?”
Dinah’s eyes lighted. “Yes, brother!” She curtseyed and hugged his neck. “Thank you so much!”
She was out of the house and running down the pathway with two maids before Levi’s smile had faded.
A couple of hours passed and Dinah didn’t come back.
Levi paced the grounds of the mansion for several minutes and then went out into the green plains where she was supposed to be. He panicked when there was no sign of Dinah or the maids anywhere. He could not take a risk; he rushed back and found his brothers. The men took four teams and went in search of Dinah.
Shechem, prince of the Hivites was an interesting personality. He was wealthy in his own right and influential in many circles. His father, Hamor, sat with other kings in council and made many successful wars, conquering territories and kingdoms. The palace, where Shechem lived was furnished with gold and precious ornaments.
Dinah had stood on the same balcony of her chambers on many nights, speculating what went on behind the night lights she saw every evening. The Hivites had remained for her a great intrigue. On the few occasions she was able to sneak out into the land with a disguise, she had been enchanted by their free lifestyles. The women were beautiful and dressed in colorful and revealing outfits unlike the dreary tunics and veils her mother made her wear.
When Dinah stepped into the city this time around dressed like a Jewish princess, she was met by Shechem’s servants who had seen her come into the city with her maids. They quickly took her to meet their prince.
He welcomed her with a radiant glow. Jacob was the richest and most influential man amongst the dwellers of the plains; one the Hivites had desired to relate with for years. The way of the Jews was different from theirs but it was one they coveted so much. Severally, Hamor had tried to marry his daughters off to Jacob’s sons but the Jew would not even allow his men to relate with the ‘strange’ women.
Having Dinah, the only daughter of Jacob as his guest was a huge thing for Shechem. Apart from the prospect of having a relationship with the two families, and people, he was grossly attracted to the beautiful woman. She was virginal; her hair was dark, long and glossy beneath the covering veil. Her smooth dark complexion was creamy and her skin soft to the touch. Shechem was enchanted.
He threw a party immediately and invited all the men of the land. It was a grand event. There was more than enough food and wine, and women. Men and women with skills to entertain did. There were stunts and dances and displays of talents. Dinah had never seen so much fun in her life. She forgot she had only two hours to spend.
Shechem poured his love and attention on her. Drunk with love and wine, he invited her into his bedchamber and forced his way with her. Defiled, abused, and violated, all that mattered to Dinah was to get home because she feared the wrath of her brothers. She knew what they’d done to her brother, Joseph; it was the secret all the children shared. Dinah’s brothers could be vicious.
To allay her fears and confusion and reassure her he was not one to play games, Shechem offered to marry her.
But Dinah needed to get back home. She knew her brothers would notice her missing. Levi would be upset and he would feel betrayed. Jacob would be worried, and Leah, infuriated.
Shechem on the other hand wanted to do the right thing. If he let her go without a dowry, she would be lost to the wrath of the Jews. He preferred to do the right thing, and explained this to her. He had to detain her and compel his father to approach hers.
The Jews found Dinah in Shechem’s home and asked to bring her back but Hamor insisted he would rather his son marry her. The Jews were livid but what was done was done. After much appeal from Shechem and his father, Dinah’s brothers agreed to the union, but on one condition. The men had to be circumcised as the Jews were.
Dinah’s brothers returned home with the news, but Levi could not be consoled by the affront. Jacob mourned, Leah wept, and the clan lamented. A daughter of Zion had been defiled. The men retired to their chambers but Levi was restless. He went out into the plains and Simeon followed him.
“He can’t get away with it!” Levi said. “His generation is cursed!”
“I have a plan.” Simeon turned to him. Both men looked at each other through the night lights and reached a compromise. Shechem would pay the ultimate price!
A few days later, the Hivites were circumcised. Every man in the land went through the process in respect of the most honored of all the household of Hamor, Shechem. But while the men lay weak and recuperating, Dinah’s brothers, Simeon and Levi, took their swords and went on a blood bath.
When they left the land of the Hivites, all the able-bodied men were dead, including Shechem and his father, Hamor. They took their sister out of Shechem’s house.
The anger of the Jews had been taken for granted.