Alexander Rofé, «Defilement of Virgins in Biblical Law and the Case of Dinah (Genesis 34)», Vol. 86 (2005) 369-375
Seduction or rape of a virgin in the Biblical milieu did not signify her being
defiled. The Hebrew verb t-imme) (to defile) applied to married or betrothed
women only. The case of Dinah is an exception. In Genesis 34, it is stated three
times that Jacob’s daughter was defiled by Shechem (vv. 5.13.27). A plausible
explanation of this state of affairs is that Genesis 34 reflects the late, postexilic
notion that the idolatrous gentiles are impure which implies the prohibition of
intermarriage and intercourse with them (Ezra 9, 11-12). The concept of the
impurity of idolaters persisted in post-biblical literature. Thus, the assertion that
Dinah was defiled by Shechem betrays a late date of composition in respect of
this story. This confirms Kuenen’s hypothesis that Genesis 34 in its present form
is a late chapter, containing an anti-Samaritan polemic which originated in the
Restoration Community of the Fifth-Fourth centuries BCE.
460 Gert T.M. Prinsloo
contains a systematic classification of the concept. The most com-
prehensive classification of space is provided by scholars working in
the field of social-scientific criticism, specifically those working with
the concept of â€œcritical spatialityâ€ (15). Building upon the work of
postmodern geographers like Lefebvre and Soja (16) they distinguish
between â€œfirstspaceâ€ (physical space, concrete space, perceived space,
i.e. the description of a place or an environment); â€œsecondspaceâ€
(imagined space, conceived space, abstract space, i.e. the description
of space on an emotive level where space touches upon the
psychological, ideological, religious and philosophical dimensions of
human behaviour); and â€œthirdspaceâ€ (lived space, the confrontation
between various social groups and their space, reflecting the spatial
ideology of society) (17). A set of rules governs the perceptions and
actual spatial experiences of various social classes and social groups.
The â€œlived spaceâ€ of a king differs from that of a commoner, of a male
from that of a female.
The world created by the stories and poems of the Hebrew Bible is
peculiar in the sense that it realistically represents the life of man with
all his limitations, but brings that world into dialogue with a construct
of the religious imagination that passes beyond those limits. In essence
the Hebrew Bible is concerned with this divine/human dialogue.
Mankind is represented from one of two perspectives: at-center
(properly orientated to his world), or off-center (in chaos and
disorientation) (18). In the Book of Psalms in particular the world is
seen from the vantage point of an individual, an â€œIâ€ who experiences
the world from an interior viewpoint (19). Space in the Book of Psalms
iar with those places. He focuses upon space as a concrete concept. Cf. also the
cursory discussion of space in FOKKELMAN, Reading, 97-111. The discussion
above indicates that the concept of space is much more complicated than the
mere description of physical place.
(15) Cf. J.L. BERQUIST, â€œCritical spatiality and the uses of theoryâ€, AAR/SBL
Annual Meeting, Constructions of Ancient Space Seminar, October 2002 (Hy-
perlink: http://www.cwru.edu) 1-15.
(16) Cf. the overview in BERQUIST, â€œCritical spatialityâ€, 4-5.
(17) FLANAGAN, â€œAncient perceptionsâ€ 26-30; MATTHEWS, â€œPhysical spaceâ€,
(18) THOMPSON, Introducing, 13. The same tendency is present in the narra-
tives of other cultures in the Ancient Near East.
(19) THOMPSON, Introducing, 53 observes that 123 of the 150 psalms are (at
least in part) written from a first person perspective. Cf. also FOKKELMAN, Read-