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.
The Role of Space in the twl[mh 469
prayer: â€œMay YHWH bless you from Zionâ€ (5a). Only he can grant
â€œprosperityâ€ (5b) and a long life (6a). The poem ends with the same
exclamation as in Ps 125,5c: â€œPeace be upon Israelâ€ (6b). Psalm 128
ends where Psalm 126 started: in public space, with YHWH as the
only source of blessing and prosperity, both for his people at large and
for each of its individual members.
The third triad of poems describe the experiences of individuals
going about their daily business of sowing and reaping (Psalm 126),
working and raising families (Psalm 127), and expecting the fruit of
their labour (Psalm 128). This experience and expectation is set in the
context of the trials and tribulations of Zion (Psalm 126,1-3; Psalm
128,5-6). These three poems describe a life at-centre, in the presence
of Yahweh. It is emphasised by the chiastic relationship between Psalm
126 and 128. The poems illustrate the truth expressed in Ps 125,1-2 â€“
YHWH surrounds his people!
Psalm 129 picks up the theme of Psalm 125, emphasised by the
fact that these are the only poems in the collection where the roots [vr
(125,3a; 129,4b) and qdx (125,3bc; 129,4a) occur. The focus moves to
public space. The poem describes the physical experience of Israel
during the course of her history, an experience of being â€œoppressedâ€
(1a, 2a). For far too long Israel has been the victim of scorn and
humiliation, metaphorically described in agricultural terms in 3ab:
â€œUpon my back ploughmen have ploughed, they have made their
furrows longâ€. However, the presence of Yahweh prevented the utter
destruction of the people (4ab). Therefore the petitioner can implore
Yahweh to put those â€œwho hate Zionâ€ (5b) to â€œshameâ€ (5a) (51). It is his
prayer that such people should never experience the blessing of
Yahweh (8abc) (52).
Psalm 130 turns to the emotional experience of being estranged
from Yahweh. It amounts to no less than being in the â€œdepthsâ€, in the
clutches of lwav (1a) (53). Psalm 130 plunges into the Depth, a theme
also present in Psalm 124 (54). The experience of being off-centre, far
(51) HUNTER, Psalms, 217 points to the contrast between vv. 4ab and 5ab.
â€œYHWH is righteousâ€ (4a) stands in contrast to â€œall who hate Zionâ€ (5b) and
YHWHâ€™s positive action towards the righteous â€œhe cuts the cords of the wickedâ€
(4b) in contrast to the wish â€œmay they be turned back in shameâ€ (5a).
(52) HUNTER, Psalms, 216 emphasises the agricultural background of this
psalm. He emphasises that the closing blessing in verse 8abc should be under-
stood as a blessing exchanged between two parties such as described in Ru 2,4.
(53) KRAUS, Psalms, 467; HUNTER, Psalms, 218; ZENGER, â€œZion als Ortâ€, 107.
(54) MITCHELL, Message, 122.