Date of Graduation

Spring 2014


Master of Arts in Religious Studies


Religious Studies

Committee Chair

Victor Matthews


The narrative of Genesis 34 depicts a Jacobite girl who is sexually violated when she ventures out of her father's encampment. This enigmatic violation has been the subject of discussion in recent years, but I propose that scholars look forward to the remaining portions of the story. What might such a violation mean for Jacob's clan—the family of Israel? It is preferable to use both archaeological and anthropological perspectives, as well as critical spatiality, to reread Genesis 34 through a social-scientific lens, for glimpses of social structure and interaction are prevalent in the biblical texts. The motif of honor and shame runs deep through the fabric of the tale, causing the brothers of a violated sister to act on her behalf, and on behalf of the Jacobite clan. Instead of following conventional methods to restore family honor, the brothers of Dinah take vengeance against the Hivites/Shechemites with violent, deadly force, causing a disgruntled patriarch to finally speak out at the end of the narrative. The culmination of events is better understood via the utilization of archaeological surveys and anthropological consideration of human interaction contained within, and reported outside of, the biblical texts. This approach has not been thoroughly undertaken with regard to Genesis 34, so I employ it here to shed light on this troublesome chapter.


Genesis 34, Hebrew Bible, Dinah, Shechem, ancestral narratives, ancient Israel, ancient Near East, honor and shame, tricksters, violence in sacred texts, biblical feminisms, Syro-Palestinian archaeology, social-scientific criticism of the Bible

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