I am Ya’akov – chapter 2 – Dinah


How I love Dinah! My only daughter, so beautiful, so curious and intelligent. A chieftain’s daughter. A princess. She has only to say and what she wants is hers. That is the truth, believe me or not.

There are many times in my life when I should have spoken and I kept silent. One such instance is Dinah and Shechem. She asks me for Shechem. I and Hamor are in agreement – a marriage is not only acceptable, but desired by both families. What happens next is my fault. I hear Shimon and Levi discussing something in hushed voices late at night. Hushed, angry voices. I hear them move away from our camp. I think for a second that I need go and ask them what is going on, but I do not. I convince myself that they are just going after a lion or a jackal they have seen near the sheep pens. I should know better.

Shimon and Levi, always in trouble, always taking offense and getting into fights; with the servants, their brothers, with each other and with other herdsmen at the wells and watering holes.

When they show up the next morning, bloody, dusty and triumphant, I know something is wrong. I can smell it on their bloody clothes and drunken breaths.

“Now, father, all is well, our sister’s honor has been avenged,” they shout, as they empty a sack full of bloody rags at my feet, “now the world knows not to trifle with the son’s of Ya’akov!”
Then I see Dinah, red-eyed with tear-streaks down her face. She walks straight by me and her brothers, into the women’s tent.

“What have you done!? I had an agreement with Hamor.”

“But our sister was defiled by that rasha Shechem…” they try and justify their action.

“There is no defilement. Hamor’s son Shechem and your sister Dinah are betrothed. Now you have put us all in danger from the people in this land – stupid, bloodthirsty, arrogant and insolent  fools!”

I am furious at them. I am furious at myself. Maybe I still am.

When Dinah comes out of the tent again five days later, she walks up to me, slaps me twice and hisses “Murderer!” She will never speak to me again. Because I kept silent when I should have spoken, my daughter was destroyed! I hear her desolate sobs every night for a month. My heart breaks over and over, there is nothing I can do. My beloved Dinah, my Princess!

For their crime, Shimon and Levi are banished from my tents. Working as herdsmen with my bondsmen, they seldom come to camp which is good, because I do not doubt that Dinah will kill them, given the chance. I will not blame her if she does.

Maybe I should kill them myself – an eye for an eye and so on? I can’t. They are my sons, they are part of the Family Story – the story that began with Grandfather Avraham. So I keep them away from camp, away from Dinah and away from me.

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Filed under Writing, Ya'akov ben Yitzhak

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