Bible Stories for Young Adults


Dinah - Hidden Idols and “Private Matters”

Dinah was one of Jacob's daughters, a daughter of his wife Leah.  Jacob's

family, being devoted to the one true God,  was not to intermarry with the

inhabitants of the land of Canaan, for their idols and vices were many.

Intermarriage would weaken, and even destroy the faith in the God who is the

Creator.  He was also the Covenant-making God who would one day send the

Christ into the world, and the Christ would come from the family line of

Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  God needed to preserve a nation that had a

sense of what righteousness and holiness were, so that they could see their

need of a Savior, and would look forward to his coming into the world to

plant His kingdom.


After Jacob returned to the land of his father Isaac and once again saw his

brother Esau, he bought some land from the sons of Hamor within sight of

their city called Shechem.

However, Jacob's family evidently associated too closely with the people of

Shechem, for Dinah started visiting some of the girls  there.  While on one

of these visits, a young man named Shechem, the son of  the ruler of that

area, saw her and took her and sexually defiled her.  He then decided he

wanted her to be his wife.  (Shechem the man was evidently named after the

city he lived in.)

Jacob heard that Dinah had been violated and kept quiet until Shechem and

his father Hamor came to bargain with Jacob for a bride-price.  But Dinah's

brothers were both grieved and furious that their sister had been disgraced

and treated like a whorish woman.

Though Shechem offered a great bride price, and Shechem's father pleaded

that intermarriage between their families would mean that Jacob's family

could have property in the land, the rage of the brothers was not assuaged.

So they replied deceitfully saying, "We can't give our sister to a man who

is not circumcised.  If all of your males in your area become circumcised

like us, then we will intermarry and settle in your land and become one with

you.  But if you don't agree to be circumcised, we will take our sister and


This proposal sounded good to them, so they and all their fellow townsmen

were circumcised.  But three days later, when they were all still in pain,

Simeon and Levi, two of Dinah's brothers, took swords and attacked the city

and killed every male. They, along with other sons of Jacob, looted all the

goods in the town.  They  killed Shechem and his father and took their

sister Dinah from Shechem's house.

Jacob rebuked his sons for this harsh act of violence, but they dismissed

the rebuke with the words, "Should he have treated our sister like a

prostitute?"  Jacob realized then that there was something terribly amiss in

his household.  He had a  daughter who dallied around with the ungodly and

had lost her virginity, he had sons who deceitfully used the God-given

covenant of circumcision against an unsuspecting people, he had sons who

were mass murderers and plunderers, and even his favorite wife still had

stolen idols in her possession.  (Genesis  31:19, 30-35)

Jacob was afraid that the people of the land would join forces against him

and his family over this matter.  It was then that God told Jacob to return

to Bethel, the place where he first met God.  Jacob, seeing that his family

needed an immediate reformation before returning to Bethel, ordered that all

his household get rid of any foreign gods they had with them and purify

themselves.  Jacob told his household that they would be going to Bethel to

build an altar to God, so everyone brought their foreign gods and the rings

in their ears and they were buried at Shechem.

Meanwhile, the terror of God fell upon the towns all around them and no one

pursued Jacob as he and his family left the area.  The terror of God?  This

was a fear that was due to fear of punishment.  The Canaanites must have

heard how every male in the town of Shechem was wiped out and all of their

women and children taken as captives by Jacob's sons, due to the anger of

two brothers who took vengeance because their sister had been robbed of her

sexual innocence!  Suddenly the ways of the Canaanite culture came under a

different perspective.  Maybe there was a God who disapproved of their

casual sex!  Maybe the history of Sodom and Gomorrah came back into their


But maybe God Himself made the Canaanites full of terror just because Jacob

had finally made his household do some spiritual housecleaning by getting

rid of the idols that defiled his family.  The heathen among us will never

have the terror of God in their hearts until Christians clean up their homes

of the spiritual filth therein -- pornography, racy novels, trashy and

worldly magazines, and the abominations that are constantly on television,

movies, the internet, and secular music.  Our "household gods" must be given

up!  Too, churches as a whole need to clean up their act, teach and preach

on purity and holiness, and engage in the task of counseling and possibly

disciplining church members who engage in sexual sin, including those that

are deemed "private matters" such as viewing pornography.

This story teaches us several important truths

1)  Watch out for the kind of people you associate with.  "Blessed is he who

does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly." (Psalm 1:1)  and "Evil company

corrupts good morals."  (I Corinthians 15:33) The kind of people you associate with these days includes those with whom you communicate by phone, text messages, internet, or the kind that you observe on television or in the movies.  Dinah's failure in this area led to her being seduced or maybe even raped and her brothers becoming mass murderers.

2)  Intermarriage with ungodly people  is to be avoided.  Therefore, this

would include not dating or getting emotionally involved with someone who

does not believe and behave as a true Christian.  "Be ye not unequally yoked

together with unbelievers."

3)  Do not become romantically involved with a person that your parents do

not approve of.  They can usually see through a person's character and

potential better than a young person can.  Beware of even unnecessarily

talking to someone that you know your parents or the Lord would not approve

of.  "Talking to," as the teenagers now call the budding of a "relationship," leads to emotional involvement, which then leads to physical involvement, and this results in the sins of lust and sensuality.

4)  Do a spiritual housecleaning, as Jacob did.  Get rid of household idols.

Keep anything that could cause one to stumble spiritually out of your home,

your car, or other places you may be.  Don't go to places you know will not

be a wholesome environment.  Confess all known sin hiding in your inner

sanctuary, which is your heart, mind, and soul.


Like the murderous wrath of Absalom when his sister Tamar was raped by Amnon many years later, so was the wrath of Jacob's sons.  Rape or seduction of a virgin was considered something worthy of death among many.  Unless men have become totally immoral and hard-hearted, they have a protective instinct toward virgins, but especially toward virgins within their own

families, whether it be sisters or daughters.  Only when the father of a

girl has expressly given his daughter in marriage to a man is sexual contact

to be permitted.  The father or brothers of a virgin also keep "checks" on

their daughter or sister, by warning her about certain young men they know

to be on the prowl, by warning her about dressing immodestly, or acting

indiscreetly.  But how difficult it is for girls to heed the warnings of the

family males when "the attire of a harlot," as well as a harlot's mannerisms and actions, is glorified on television, in magazines, and throughout our culture!

At this point we may well consider the wise and foolish virgins Matthew 25. Though this is a parable about being prepared for Christ's coming, we

could apply it to being prepared for anything that we have been warned about

by people wiser and more spiritually mature than we are.  The wise virgins

were prepared.  They had heeded the warnings about what would happen and had oil (which symbolizes being filled with the Holy Spirit).  The foolish

virgins had heard the warnings, but they were not watchful and prepared.

There are wise virgins who listen to wise counsel, who dress modestly, who

want keep themselves a pure virgin and be presented as such to her husband

on her wedding day.  But  there are foolish virgins who may think they want

to go into the honeymoon chamber as a virgin, but they ignore the warnings

to not allow premarital sensual touching, they ignore the warnings about

seductive and emotional talk, they ignore the warnings about how to act

discreetly and "lady-like," and  they eventually fall into the shame of sex sin.   

Sarah Palin was the American Republican nominee for vice president of the

United States in 2008.  Little did Bristol Palin, daughter of Sarah Palin,

suspect that her fornication would be something that would be broadcast all

over the world when she secretly succumbed to her boyfriend.  Mockers poked fun at Sarah Palin's stand for "abstinence only" sex education, for her own daughter did not practice abstinence and became pregnant, supposedly proving that abstinence education does not work.  Though Sarah Palin handled criticism gracefully,  no one would have run for major office fifty years

ago if they had a daughter who was pregnant out-of-wedlock.

Though  Christians prayed for Sarah Palin and loved her as a person and as a

leader,  how much did her exposure of her daughter result in a loosening of

moral restraint in the Christian churches of our nation?  Young people may

be wondering if Bristol is a Christian, and if she is, does that make it

acceptable for other Christian teenagers to have sex?  Was Bristol

counseled about her sin?  She seemed remorseful after her baby was born.

The baby's father, who flippantly expressed the opinion that "all  teenagers

--most, anyway --are sexually active," has refused to accept  responsibility

for Bristol and the child he sired.  This would make any woman sorrowful,

but was Bristol repentant, realizing the great magnitude of her sin?  We

don't know the answer to that, but Bristol Palin's fornication was not a

"private matter,"  though some claimed it was.  It became a very public

matter, as anyone's sins could become.

Though one may think he or she can get away with sex sin, it is not a

"private matter" or else there would never have been laws against it.

"Private matters" have a way of creeping out into the open and affecting the

whole culture.  It affects one's own soul, for sure; it demoralizes a

person so that he or she cannot without fear of exposure, take a righteous

stand against it.  It affects a relationship, for many relationships that

could have resulted in marriage ended because  sexual activity changed it in

a negative way.  But even if fornicators do marry one another, without

repentance they carry the filth of fornication into the marriage, sometimes

even imagining they are with another person, or are another person, during

the marriage act.  Thus they mentally still commit fornication even when

married.  Even if it is unknown to other people, it definitely is known by God.

Surely, any Christian could fall into sex sin, but the difference is whether

or not the Spirit of God deals with the person.  A Christian cannot make a

practice of sex sin without discipline from the Heavenly Father, for Hebrews

says that if a sinning "Christian" is without God's discipline, it proves he

or she is not a child of God, but like an illegitimate child who has no

fatherly discipline. (Hebrews 12: 5-11)

Donna Rice was raised in the church, got baptized in the fifth grade,

rededicated her life at a Cliff Barrows concert in ninth grade, was active

in choir, youth group, mission trips, and bringing friends to church with her

through high school.  She was a straight-A student who earned Phi Beta Kappa honors at the University of South Carolina and was also head cheerleader there.  She worked on the side as a model, and described herself as an "overachiever."  During her senior year of college, she veered off the right path by partying and dating guys who were not Christian.  She stopped

attending church and her Bible lay unopened.  She started dating an older

guy and one night after she had had a few drinks with him, he forced her so

that she lost the final vestiges of her virginity.  She was so ashamed, but

she tried to run from her shame.  She won the Miss South Carolina World

beauty pageant then left for New York to try for greater honors.

Because she felt like "used goods" now, Donna gradually and reluctantly

continued sexual activity.  Though she kept feeling a tug to return to her

Christian roots, she did not feel she could return to the humdrum of the

"normal" and leave the "glamour."  She then met a politician who swept her

off her feet.  Though Donna thought her activities through the years, and

those now, were "private matters" since even her parents did not know about

her adulterous lifestyle, Donna's private life became very public when the

news media took a dare from U.S. Senator Gary Hart to see if they could

discover anything amiss in his life.  The gossip-mongers then discovered

Donna Rice. 

Donna's life became anything but private.  She lost her great job with a

pharmaceutical company due to media attention.  Donna was offered chances to even pose for Playboy, but her grandmother and mother urged her, "Donna,

before you make any decisions, get your life straight with God."  She then

decided to put the whole mess in God's hands.

The very pain-ridden but repentant Donna received much love and support and counsel from Christians -- both old Christian friends and new ones.  They

did not mind if she sobbed through a church service.  For several months she

went to a Christian retreat where she rested, prayed, read her Bible, and

received godly counsel.  She was restored to Christian fellowship and has

become a victorious Christian who is a national leader against pornography.

Donna Rice Hughes is married now and is president of the organization called

"Enough is Enough"  which educates others on the adverse effects of porn,

which was a factor, she believes, in her being date raped.

Donna is just one example of many thousands that could  be told of someone

whose "private matters" became very public.  "Be sure your sin will find you

out."  Because God sees every secret of our heart, all things are laid open

before Him.  If you are His child, He will even allow you to be publicly

humiliated in order to bring you back to Himself.  Hopefully, one will

repent of hidden sin before the pain has to become that deep.

Jesus came to heal the worst of sinners, including prostitutes.  The chief

priests and elders of the Jewish people, when they saw Jesus eating and

drinking with the despised tax-collectors, prostitutes, and other sinners,

considered him to be outside of the realm of acceptable behavior.  However,

Jesus told them, "The tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the

kingdom of God ahead of you.  For John came to you to show you the way of

righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the

prostitutes did.  And even after you saw this, you did not repent and

believe him."  (Matthew 21:31-32)

On another occasion when the religious leaders were criticizing Jesus for

his reaching out to the men and women of ill repute, he said, "It is not the

healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  I have not come to call the

righteous, but sinners."  (Mark 2:17)  People who will not admit their

sinfulness, and continue to think of themselves as righteous, yet covering

over their unrighteousness with all sorts of excuses, cannot and will not

come to Jesus for cleansing and healing.

Jesus did not come to condemn the sexually immoral or other sinners, but to

offer them forgiveness, cleansing, and victory over their past failures.  He

restores people who humble themselves and are willing to admit their

desperate need of Jesus Christ in  their lives.

Discussion Questions

1.  Do you think Dinah was raped or seduced?

    (See comments at the end of these questions.)

2.  How could Dinah have prevented this from happening?

    How could Jacob have prevented this from happening?

3.  Why do you think Dinah went to visit the girls of the town of Shechem?

What do you think these girls were like?

4.  Compared to the character of the men and boys in today's America, how

would Shechem and his father stack up?

5.  Have  you seen the defense of brothers for their sister in your

lifetime?  If so, what were the circumstances?

6.  Why do you think Jacob was so much more subdued than his sons?

7.  Jacob's sons used a God-given sign as a way to take vengeance on the men

of Shechem.  Which of the ten commandments were broken in this whole plot?

8.  Why do you think the men of Shechem readily agreed to be circumcised?

9.  What all did the sons of Jacob take from the city?

    What do you think they did with the women and girls?

10.  Why did Jacob rebuke his sons (at least the reason he gave them)?

11.  After this, what did God tell Jacob to do?  What did Jacob tell his

household to do?

12.  Why did the "terror of God" fall upon the towns all around them?

13.  What "household idols" might Christians be hiding?

14.  What is the difference between wise virgins and foolish virgins?  Which

was Dinah? 

15.  When Dinah's brothers raided the city, where did they find Dinah?  Do

you think she was being held hostage, or was she there voluntarily?  Would

she have been there because she was attracted to Shechem or more afraid of

returning to her family?

16.  Why must we be careful not to think of our hidden sins as "private

matters" which we don't have to turn from?

17.  As we compare the Donna Rice story to the Bristol Palin story, what

might you see in the future for Bristol if she is truly repentant?  In both

of these stories, their mother is a stronger Christian than the father

is/was, since it was their mother who took them to church.  How might having

a father as spiritual leader have prevented the sexual sin in their lives

from happening? 

18.  Why did the self-righteous ones in Jesus' day find fault in Jesus as he

mingled with prostitutes and tax-collectors?  What was Jesus' answer to


Was Dinah seduced or raped?

Though modern translations use the word "rape" or "violate" to describe the

action of Genesis 34:2, the Hebrew word is "anah."  This particular word is

translated "afflict" 50 times in the Old Testament, "humble" 11 times, and

"force" only five times.  "Force" is definitely meant in 2 Samuel 13, where

it is used four times.  The word "afflict" is close to our word "abuse" as

far as the way it is used many times, and sometimes it means "to lower."

Therefore, this word trips up translators.  Every time "anah" is used in

Genesis, though, it means to be put under the power of someone else, either

by enslavement (Genesis 15:13, Genesis 16:6) or willingly (Genesis 16:9

"submit"), or it may mean mistreatment. (Genesis 31:50)

So, since the Hebrew word can mean different things, we must look at context

clues.  Apparently Shechem knew Dinah from her father's dealings with him

and his brother, as he had bought some ground from them.  Shechem evidently came to know Dinah better through the girls of Shechem.  Shechem had his own house and Dinah went there since that is where her brothers found her.  The context shows that Shechem spoke tenderly to Dinah and fell in love with her, and we must see Genesis 34:3 as an explanation as to how Genesis 34:2 happened, rather than as an event which followed it chronologically. Perhaps their contact got out of control, and Dinah succumbed to a great deal of sensual contact with Shechem.  Perhaps the "abuse," "affliction," or "humbling" did not even go as far as penetration, but this is unlikely since Dinah ended up staying in his home with him.

Apparently, Dinah had been wooed a great deal.  Whether or not the supposed penetration was forced or the result of seduction, we cannot know for sure, but the fact is that the brothers saw Dinah as having been treated as a harlot, according to the last verse of Genesis 34.  A harlot is seen as one

who is willing to be sexually involved.  Hardly do we think of harlots (or

unmarrieds who are "sexually active", as we call it today)  as being raped,

unless it is something like "date-rape" which is generally preceded by a

great deal of voluntary physical involvement and sensual activity anyway.

Additionally, neither Shechem or his father were behaving as if Dinah had

been raped.  Shechem and his father were acting more honorably toward Dinah than many males in America act today, even though they were heathen.  They wanted to pay a bride-price, and this actually is what the scripture tells

even the Israelite men to do if they seduce a virgin who is not betrothed.

(Exodus 22:16). 

Though Jacob's sons wanted to blame Shechem for this sin, the fact is that

they and their father had been loose on their responsibilities to protect

Dinah in the first place.  My guess is that the relationship that Shechem

and Dinah had was no different than most dating relationships we have in

America today.  But Dinah was definitely defiled by it as Genesis 34:5,13,

and 27 state.

You may read this story from Genesis, chapter 34.  Just click on this link. 

Recall the importance of circumcision by reading the lesson “Circumcision.”

You may reread this story from Genesis, chapter 34

Refer to verses 5, 13, & 27. 

Just “talking to” someone on the phone or texting or emailing or communicating via Facebook can lead to inappropriate emotional attachment that can lead to physical involvement. 

Bristol Palin holds her brother Trig during the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign.  She was 5 months pregnant in this photograph.  She later took part in efforts to warn teens not to get into sex.

What is the difference between the wise virgins and the foolish virgins? 

Donna Rice in 1987 with Senator Gary Hart.  Today Donna lives her Christian faith, but never dreamed her private matters in 1987 would become so public.

Today Donna Rice is president of “Enough is Enough,” an organization whose mission is to protect children from sexual predators and internet porn. 

Household idols of the ancient world.  What “idols” do people who call themselves Christians tend to have?

Jesus said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Only people who humbly admit their sin, and their need of God, can obtain forgiveness and restoration.