The first recorded discussion was for Part 2: Abraham/Sarah + Hosea/Gomer was about five hours (more segments to come). Somehow we got off the principle couples and dove into Dinah’s story for a good amount of time. It got a bit intense.
What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun. ~ Ecclesiastes 1:9
During my studies, my best understanding has come from placing myself within the stories. Mostly as a witness, simply because I can’t see myself making many of the choices that are made by folks. However, there are times I can place myself in someone’s sandals and explore how I would respond. Dinah’s story is one I feel personally.
I think some people may have difficulty grasping core elements of Biblical stories because they read it as the “other” or “outsider” or something so old that it has no relevance to contemporary culture or concerns. Ergo it’s unrelatable.
Bible stories are human stories. Rape, incest, adultery, betrayal, disobedience, revenge – these actions and abuses weren’t left in ancient times. Hope, love, faith, courage, belief, obedience – these expected elements of a righteous life are not the sole domain of prophets.
In our contemporary, daily lives we have to cope with violence against us in some way. The violence could be emotional, verbal, physical, sexual or spiritual. It could be perpetuated by someone we love or care about, acquaintances, strangers, or ourselves. We can also be oppressed by government, societal, or cultural structures. No one is opposition-free in this world. The Bible explores all of this.
In this discussion, it is supposed that Dinah is seeking the world when she seeks out the women of Shechem. The underlying assumption is that young women didn’t go off on their own during Dinah’s time. That they had to be constantly watched by their men folks.
One of the through lines of my study is that the Bible is a self-referencing document. The best understanding or framing you can get for anything in the Bible is by cross-referencing it with another Biblical occurrence. In Dinah’s case, she went out alone to explore a city her family had camped next to. A prince of the region saw her, seized her and raped. Then he claimed he loved her and wanted to marry her. We can find hundreds of similar stories on TV and in the news today. None of this is unheard of. What’s interesting is that there are similar stories throughout the Bible.
Naomi and her daughters-in-law, Oprah and Ruth, traveled from Moab to Bethlehem by themselves without men to get to Naomi’s next of kin. Orpah, returned to her mother’s house on her own as Naomi’s urging. (Ruth 1)
Mary traveled alone from Nazareth to the Hills of Judea alone to visit Elizabeth (about 90 miles, a 34 hour walk). (Luke 1:39-56)
Women in the Bible weren’t as fragile and dependent as we like to think. They were what they needed to be, just like women today.
Noah’s wife was raped by their son as she slept next to her husband. You have to do additional cross-referencing to get clear picture of “saw his father’s nakedness,” but it’s there in the Bible. (Genesis 9, Leviticus 18) Lot offered his daughters to a mob to calm them down. The daughters later raped him while he slept because they thought he was the last man on earth and they had a duty to repopulate. (Genesis 19)
The rape of Dinah and the culture surrounding her
Two other reference rapes: Noah’s wife by Ham, Lot’s rape by
Shechem, rapist claims to love her and asks for her to be
Freedom of women to move around/travel in ancient times and
Other examples of women traveling alone in the Bible: Mary,
Naomi and her daughters in law
For me, it encompasses two big projects I’m working on: a re-edit of my book, Desert of Solitude: Refreshed by Grace and the Marriage & Relationship: Modern Concepts vs. Biblical Principles Virtual Bible Study Series.
I’ve added so much to Desert of Solitude since it was published in 2018, that it’s more of a re-write at this point. One of the strongest themes in my book is the cycle of endings and beginnings aka life and death. This sermon has touched on a vein and exposed perspectives I hadn’t considered. It is also a great addition to the Marriage & Relationship discussion series. Pastor Steven Furtick gives an excellent perspective and understanding of Jacob, Rachel and Leah (covered in Part 1 of my study) and Mary (covered in Part 5).
“The relationship between fear and favor cannot be overstated. Choose favor over fear.” ~ Pastor Steven Furtick
Then Jacob called his sons to him. He said, “Come here to me, and I will tell you what will happen to you in the future.
“Come together and listen, sons of Jacob. Listen to Israel, your father.”
“Reuben, my first son, you are my strength. Your birth showed I could be a father. You have the highest position among my sons, and you are the most powerful. But you are uncontrolled like water, so you will no longer lead your brothers. This is because you got into your father’s bed and shamed me by having sexual relations with my slave girl.
“Simeon and Levi are brothers who used their swords to do violence. I will not join their secret talks, and I will not meet with them to plan evil. They killed men because they were angry, and they crippled oxen just for fun. May their anger be cursed, because it is too violent. May their violence be cursed, because it is too cruel. I will divide them up among the tribes of Jacob and scatter them through all the tribes of Israel.
“Judah, your brothers will praise you. You will grab your enemies by the neck, and your brothers will bow down to you. Judah is like a young lion. You have returned from killing, my son. Like a lion, he stretches out and lies down to rest, and no one is brave enough to wake him. Kings will come from Judah’s family; someone from Judah will always be on the throne. Judah will rule until Shiloh comes, and the nations will obey him. He ties his donkey to a grapevine, his young donkey to the best branch. He can afford to use wine to wash his clothes and the best wine to wash his robes. His eyes are dark like the color of wine, and his teeth are as white as the color of milk.
“Zebulun will live near the sea. His shore will be a safe place for ships, and his land will reach as far as Sidon.
“Issachar is like a strong donkey who lies down while carrying his load. When he sees his resting place is good and how pleasant his land is, he will put his back to the load and become a slave.
“Dan will rule his own people like the other tribes in Israel. Dan will be like a snake by the side of the road, a dangerous snake lying near the path. That snake bites a horse’s leg, and the rider is thrown off backward.
“Lord, I wait for your salvation.
“Robbers will attack Gad, but he will defeat them and drive them away.
“Asher’s land will grow much good food; he will grow food fit for a king.
“Naphtali is like a female deer that runs free, that has beautiful fawns.
“Joseph is like a grapevine that produces much fruit, a healthy vine watered by a spring, whose branches grow over the wall. Archers attack him violently and shoot at him angrily, but he aims his bow well. His arms are made strong. He gets his power from the Mighty God of Jacob and his strength from the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel. Your father’s God helps you. God Almighty blesses you. He blesses you with rain from above, with water from springs below, with many babies born to your wives, and many young ones born to your animals. The blessings of your father are greater than the blessings of the oldest mountains, greater than the good things of the long-lasting hills. May these blessings rest on the head of Joseph, on the forehead of the one who was separated from his brothers.
“Benjamin is like a hungry wolf. In the morning he eats what he has caught, and in the evening he divides what he has taken.”
These are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them. He gave each son the blessing that was right for him.Then Israel gave them a command and said, “I am about to die. Bury me with my ancestors in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite. That cave is in the field of Machpelah east of Mamre in the land of Canaan. Abraham bought the field and cave from Ephron the Hittite for a burying place. Abraham and Sarah his wife are buried there. Isaac and Rebekah his wife are buried there, and I buried my wife Leah there. The field and the cave in it were bought from the Hittite people.” After Jacob finished talking to his sons, he lay down. He put his feet back on the bed, took his last breath, and died.
29 Then Jacob continued his journey and came to the land of the people of the East. 2 He looked and saw a well in the field and three flocks of sheep lying nearby, because they drank water from this well. A large stone covered the mouth of the well. 3 When all the flocks would gather there, the shepherds would roll the stone away from the well and water the sheep. Then they would put the stone back in its place.
4 Jacob said to the shepherds there, “My brothers, where are you from?”
They answered, “We are from Haran.”
5 Then Jacob asked, “Do you know Laban, grandson of Nahor?”
They answered, “We know him.”
6 Then Jacob asked, “How is he?”
They answered, “He is well. Look, his daughter Rachel is coming now with his sheep.”
7 Jacob said, “But look, it is still the middle of the day. It is not time for the sheep to be gathered for the night, so give them water and let them go back into the pasture.”
8 But they said, “We cannot do that until all the flocks are gathered. Then we will roll away the stone from the mouth of the well and water the sheep.”
9 While Jacob was talking with the shepherds, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, because it was her job to care for the sheep. 10 When Jacob saw Laban’s daughter Rachel and Laban’s sheep, he went to the well and rolled the stone from its mouth and watered Laban’s sheep. Now Laban was the brother of Rebekah, Jacob’s mother. 11 Then Jacob kissed Rachel and cried. 12 He told her that he was from her father’s family and that he was the son of Rebekah. So Rachel ran home and told her father.
13 When Laban heard the news about his sister’s son Jacob, he ran to meet him. Laban hugged him and kissed him and brought him to his house, where Jacob told Laban everything that had happened.
14 Then Laban said, “You are my own flesh and blood.”
Jacob Is Tricked
Jacob stayed there a month. 15 Then Laban said to Jacob, “You are my relative, but it is not right for you to work for me without pay. What would you like me to pay you?”
16 Now Laban had two daughters. The older was Leah, and the younger was Rachel. 17 Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel was very beautiful. 18 Jacob loved Rachel, so he said to Laban, “Let me marry your younger daughter Rachel. If you will, I will work seven years for you.”
19 Laban said, “It would be better for her to marry you than someone else, so stay here with me.” 20 So Jacob worked for Laban seven years so he could marry Rachel. But they seemed like just a few days to him because he loved Rachel very much.
21 After seven years Jacob said to Laban, “Give me Rachel so that I may marry her. The time I promised to work for you is over.”
22 So Laban gave a feast for all the people there. 23 That evening he brought his daughter Leah to Jacob, and they had sexual relations. 24 (Laban gave his slave girl Zilpah to his daughter to be her servant.) 25 In the morning when Jacob saw that he had had sexual relations with Leah, he said to Laban, “What have you done to me? I worked hard for you so that I could marry Rachel! Why did you trick me?”
26 Laban said, “In our country we do not allow the younger daughter to marry before the older daughter. 27 But complete the full week of the marriage ceremony with Leah, and I will give you Rachel to marry also. But you must serve me another seven years.”
28 So Jacob did this, and when he had completed the week with Leah, Laban gave him his daughter Rachel as a wife. 29 (Laban gave his slave girl Bilhah to his daughter Rachel to be her servant.) 30 So Jacob had sexual relations with Rachel also, and Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah. Jacob worked for Laban for another seven years.
Jacob’s Family Grows
When the Lord saw that Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah, he made it possible for Leah to have children, but not Rachel.Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben,[a] because she said, “The Lord has seen my troubles. Surely now my husband will love me.”
Leah became pregnant again and gave birth to another son. She named him Simeon[b] and said, “The Lord has heard that I am not loved, so he has given me this son.”
Leah became pregnant again and gave birth to another son. She named him Levi[c] and said, “Now, surely my husband will be close to me, because I have given him three sons.”
Then Leah gave birth to another son. She named him Judah,[d] because she said, “Now I will praise the Lord.” Then Leah stopped having children.
29:32Reuben This name sounds like the Hebrew word for “he has seen my troubles.”
29:33Simeon This name sounds like the Hebrew word for “has heard.”
29:34Levi This name sounds like the Hebrew word for “be close to.”
29:35Judah This name sounds like the Hebrew word for “praise.”
Last year, I returned to graduate school in an effort to make good on a year of study I had done nearly a decade ago. I have since become convinced that educational institutions are better suited for the youth of the world than for adults who have grown comfortable using their minds to form their own opinions. By and large, at a certain point, higher education becomes another process for dumbing down, in that students are taught to “think” in a certain way that makes them appropiately “academic”. Insert here the bell curve. Explanation: As long as you are attaining knowledge, it’s good. However, there is a peak to everything. After the peak, the more you acquire does you less and less good. So it is with education.
This morning, I woke up and thought: “I’m really paying for this sh-t.”
A couple of weeks ago, during a discussion about Edward Snowden, one of my classmates, who is a former government employee, said that she believes the government has a legitimate right to withhold pertinent information from the public (American Citizens). And if Citizens have a problem not knowing what’s really going on, too bad; the government is too big for people to fight against it, therefore it can do whatever it wants.
I was stunned. I admit to sounding extremely combative when I commented, “The government isn’t too big to fight against. Change happens in small stages. Sometimes it’s a matter of taking small steps, but even the big bad government can get turned around. Remember the institution called slavery? It was, until it wasn’t.”
To suggest that people should take, without question, whatever it is that their government wants to give them is abhorrent to me, as it should be to anyone who participates in the democracy they live in.
Yesterday, in the same class, we watched the Kony 2012 video and discussed it. The professor was a critic of the video, insisting it wasn’t factual or correct, but didn’t provide any facts or corrections. I don’t agree with some elements of the video, but my understanding of it is a man was attempting to bring awareness to the issue of children being abducted and turned into killers by Joseph Kony in Uganda. He wanted the world to know about the atrocities being committed. Honestly, all I care about in the video are the children being abducted and forced into sex slavery and forced to become killers, in most cases beginning with them killing their own parents. The video was 27 minutes long and went viral within four days of being uploaded to YouTube. To date it has over 99 million views. It became a social media movement.
The angle of the discussion in class was: What did the video really accomplish? Was it successful? How could it have been better?
I think the video accomplished the goals of its creator. In it, Jason Russell, narrator and co-founder of Invisible Children, Inc. painted the picture of how “the decisions made by a few with money and power dictated the priorities of their government and the stories of the media. They determined the lives and opportunities of their citizens. And now there is something bigger than that….”
“….The people of the world see each other. And can protect each other. It’s turning the system upside down.”
By the end of the video, we learn that the Kony 2012 campaign, rallied hundreds of thousands of students across the country into spreading the word about the horrors Joseph Kony has been perpetuating for nearly three decades. Their zeal and passion brought in main stream media coverage and celebrity support which in turn made Washington policy makers listen and respond publicly. The people drove media and policy. That was his goal.
Russell also stated that he wanted to catch and imprison Joseph Kony by the end of 2012. That didn’t happen. However, I can‘t imagine that anyone truly thought that a social media campaign would bring a warlord to heel when armies have failed to do so for over two decades. A huge positive here, is the international community of publics becoming aware and concerned by noise made by Invisible Children, Inc. through a trending topic on social media and a viral video viewed 99 million times.
This is essentially what we discussed in class last night. There were many scoffs in the class at the legitimacy of the claims of the video. I can go with that, but please explain what you would consider to be legitimate. Then a couple of folks commented on how people unfamiliar with NGO’s and Uganda can completely misread the situation and make things worst in the country for the people there. This I don’t get. When does the media ever give the whole story? Or a story with multiple sides? The piece of undisputed information in this story is that children were being kidnapped and forced to mutilate and kill others. Unless you’re saying that children ARE NOT being kidnapped and forced into sex slavery and forced into becoming marauding murderers, what are we misreading about the situation and how can it get much worse?
So the condemnation became: The video dumbs down the message so people, who aren’t thinkers, can understand it. Folks thought it was condescending and manipulative that the Jason Russell attempted to appeal to people’s emotions in order to get them involved. Honestly, I get that. And the major element I disagreed with was that Jason Russell felt that putting his dimpled, blond son in a video pleading for Americans to help thousands of African children, and saying repeatedly that children LIKE HIS OWN (privileged white American) son were being kidnapped from their beds and forced to kill their parents, would make the message stronger for Americans and illicit a stronger response. I have a problem with that. But maybe he was right to go that route. Right in the sense that the comparison was obviously a motivator for Jason Russell to do what he did. However, we will never know if just showing Jacob, a very dark skinned black Ugandan boy who shared his story with Jason Russell and friends and who became the inspiration and catalyst for Invisible Children, Inc., would have been enough. If people would have been impassioned enough to demand change after viewing a black boy cry about witnessing his brother’s murder and preferring to die himself because the world was too heavy and hopeless for him.
That’s one of the elements that troubled me most about the video, however that’s not an element that was discussed and I admit to having difficulties with phrasing my thoughts in a diplomatic way since I was certainly in the minority in the classroom. So I didn’t say this. I now know that my comments would not have been well-received anyway. This conclusion is drawn from the way the discussion went.
The female next to me said that she thought the video would have been better, had they not dumbed it down and tried to appeal to people’s heartstrings. Her solution? They should have made it “sexier”. Her word. “This would be a great video if they find a way to make it sexy. Add some sexy images and sexy music.” She was serious.
The professor got really excited and said he completely agreed.
I turned to the female and asked, “Is ‘sexy’ really better than ‘dumbing down’? Aren’t they the same?” I’m sure my disgust wasn’t hidden. And apparently she was disgusted by my question, because she dismissively replied, “Whatever.”
Yes, this is the education I am actually paying for. One where a class discussion concludes with the suggestion that sexy images and sexy music would make child sex slavery and child murderers more palatable for American media consumption (according to opinions in this class).
Back to that bell curve, the more I’ve learned in the classrooms this past year, the more concerned I’ve grown for humanity. Academia is about trained thought processes. It disdains emotion and spirituality. How can a thought change the world without first changing a heart or spirit? Even though some of the quality of this institutional education is on the downward slope, the impact of it can be mind-numbing.
What are your preferences for receiving news? Does “just the facts” work for you? Do simple headlines dissuade you from paying attention? Does it help to appeal to your emotions or is it better to appeal to your sexual nature? Or is an honest effort to tell the truth enough?