Trafficked People of the Bible & God’s Response
By Susanna Thorn
These Stories are only Biblically Based and should not be read as Biblical themselves. I have only looked deep into the Biblical stories of these people and made connections that logically make sense in my mind to flush out the character and struggles of each of these people. My hope is that you will see yourself or those around you in these stories and the God that shows His love to them will become real to you and become your God.
Dedicated to Jesus for His Glory and to my daughter Gloria that she would know Him Deeper
Now Dinah, the daughter Leah had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the women of the land. When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, the ruler of that area, saw her, he took her and raped her. His heart was drawn to Dinah daughter of Jacob; he loved the young women and spoke tenderly to her. And Shechem said to his father Hamor, “Get me this girl as my wife.”
Genesis 34:1-4 – The Bible, NIV
Dinah jolted in alarm at the sound of her father’s voice rise in a screech of anguish. In an instant the other women scrambled out of the tent. Only Bilhah took a moment to throw Benjamin toward Dinah before following. Their wails then joined Israel’s cries of grief. What had happened? Who had died? She was not allowed to leave this part of her mother’s tent unless given permission by her father. Permission only given when a task required it. Even when she was allowed out, she went covered and veiled, as her station demanded.
Dinah shut her eyes against the surrounding cries of her family. How she hated the sound of mourning! The sound always took her back to the place of her defilement. Unwillingly her thoughts went back to that time, the time her innocence was lost.
She had thought to be safe spending time with the women at the well. It was one of her many duties that her mother had charged her, and it had become one of the joys of moving to this place. She as one of the youngest of all her father’s children, the only female child, with many strong-willed brothers. Brothers who cared for the flocks and herds of her father as she worked in the tent with her mother Leah, her aunt Rachel and their two maidservants, all who had given her father sons. She loved working beside her mother, carefully watching and learning how to be a good wife, mother and how to care for her household well. Oh, how she looked forward to that day when she had her own tent and would be a blessing to her own husband! How her mother, and aunts had doted on her, teaching her all that they knew, how they rejoiced with her when her first blood had come! How they spent those seven days teaching her all that they knew so she would be prepared for when her father would give her to a husband. How she missed that childhood, that innocence, being protected by the tent with her family and with her brothers surrounding the area.
Yet though she adored them she longed to speak to someone her own age. She longed to share and speak secrets of her heart. This is what she had found at the well and when they had invited her to one of their festivals she was delighted to go. What bad thing would happen? She had a strong father and many brothers who would protect her. So, she had gone, excited to spend time with women her own age.
Oh, how she wished she had stayed home! She had been spending time with her friends when suddenly Shechem the son of the ruler of the area had charged through the women on his horse, grabbed her arm, threw her up behind him in the saddle and rode into the city. She had never gone so fast in her life and in fear had held onto him. He was laughing in triumph as he did this. He did not stop chuckling as he rode the horse into the stables and vaulte d off it. Before she had any time to compose herself after that fast ride, he had whisked her off the horse and into a mound of hay. In a moment he was upon her and though she kicked and struggled he was too strong. Pain shot through her as he took from her only what her husband should have had. It made her sob as he took his pleasure.
When he was done, he looked down at her, and seem shocked at her tears. He asked her why she was crying but she could not speak. Gently he had touched her brow, in a moment seeming to realize that she was not just like any other women he had been with. Any other women would have been honored at his attention, for he was the prince of the land, handsome and wealthy. Yet this beautiful girl had wept instead of rejoiced at his possession. The tears have softened his heart. He must fix this. He must do right for this girl, she was more precious than all of those in the land. He must have her as his wife.
This is how Shechem had treated her the four days they were together. He had taken her to his home and treated her well. He promised not to touch her again until she was his wife and had immediately gone to his father to fulfill that purpose. They had gone to Israel and her brothers and asked for them to name the bride price as great as they like. How much did Shechem honor her in this, how much did he value her! Yet all that her brothers asked for was that all the male of the city be circumcised like they were. Immediately Shechem had gone to the men, and they all had agreed. He himself allowed to be first under the knife. She had stayed by him tending to him as she had been taught. It has been a pure time seeing his eyes look at her with so much love as he suffered for her sake. How she hoped that her brothers would be satisfied, and that she and Shechem would marry and live a life together.
Yet three days later anguish cries rang up on every street that made her heart fill with dread. Simon and Levi had burst though the door, swords already drawn, splattered with blood. In a single moment Simon killed Shechem while Levi picked her up like a child and carried her out of the house. They carried her though the city as the cry of anguish became a fever pitch as she saw all her other brothers except Joseph starting to loot the city. Yet Levi continued without stopping until they had reached their mothers’ tent. There they put her while their father berated them for what they had done, yet they stood firm at defending her honor. Now all the women, children and the possessions of the city became the possessions of her brothers. From many of the young women her brothers chose brides, the rest became slaves and servants of Israel’s household. All the friendship that started to blossom now had turned to dust. She was still the daughter of Israel, and so had that honor. Yet she was now defiled, unfit for the life she had been preparing for all her life. No man would want an unmarried woman who was not a virgin. Widows usually stayed widows and that was what she was now, without a husband, with no children. She was nothing, desolate, her innocence gone without a trace.
That has been five years ago. Since then, her father charged her never to leave the tents. They also asked her to stay as hidden as possible. For what had been done to her brought dishonor to her father and brothers. They did not wish to be reminded of their inability to protect her, so they hid her as much as possible.
The next day after her rescue her father had told the household that they were leaving and going back to a place called Bethel. A place where the God of his fathers had met him, when he was still named Jacob. He charged them all to get rid of the foreign gods they had with them, to purify themselves and to change their clothes. He told them that this was the God who had answered him in his distress and had been with him wherever he had gone. This had given Dinah hope. The whole camp gave up their gods and rings in their ears and her father Jacob had buried them under the oak of Shechem. She hopefully purified herself and changed her clothes, praying to the God of her father Jacob that He would see her, that He would also answer her in her distress and to be with her even in this place, forgotten and defiled.
Her mother and the maidservants still treated her as well as they always did. Her mother had a talk with her last night telling her the past of why there was enmity between her and her sister Rachel. All three of them treated her as a woman just like they were, the maid servants now with more deference, as if she was now mistress. It was only Rachel who looked down on her, or maybe it was just her condition that made Dinah hurt with longing. Rachel was pregnant for the second time, and the first she had been told had been a miracle, for her mother and the maidservants had given many children to Jacob before Joseph had come. The mothers and children at Shechem also stayed away from her, looking at her with hard eyes of judgement for the sorrow that had fallen on them. She was now a woman in every way, a woman defiled, and she would never have what Rachel was carrying now. It made her heart grieve and her tears come in the night, but nothing would change this for her. Yet she hoped that somehow, she could make a place in her father’s household, a place that was needed and not grudgingly given.
Benjamin whimpered in her arms, scared and uncomfortable of the sounds outside. His cry brought her back to the present and she held him close, rocking him back and forth as the wails continued. His whimpers and feeling of the weight of his body against her pushed her back into another memory, when these same wails cut through the night just like they were now.
How things can change in an instant! At Bethel she had worshiped the God of her father with all her heart and mind, giving herself to Him for His service, broken and defiled as she was. After that they had left to go back to see Jacob’s father Isaac. On the way Rachel time came.
At the start she was not allowed in, for her taint could affect birthing and Dinah did not wish to experience the joy on Rachel’s face of what she would not be able to experience. Yet Rachel’s labour was so intense she was called in to help. She watched as Rachel started to fade as her baby boy was born into the world. Immediately the baby was pushed into her arms to be cleaned and swaddled, which she did while the rest of the women were busy around Rachel. Dinah meekly brought the baby to Rachel who so weak could not hold the baby, but just raised her hand in blessing over the babe. Looking into the baby boy’s eyes in the arms of Dinah she pronounced his name on her last breath. Ben-Oni – Son of My Sorrow. Dinah heart fell to the bottom of her chest as the pronouncement was made. Her eyes welled up with tears as the tent broke out in the cries of grief. She held the baby close to her, trying to shield it from the anguish around him, the anguish that his name now held. This little one had caused sorrow just like her, unknowingly. Oh, how her heart cried out for him as she breathed the sweetness of his skin in her arms.
Her father Israel came in the moment the sound of sorrow went up. He knelt beside Rachel and cried out his grief. After a while, his tears ceased. Caressing Rachel’s cheek he kissed her brow in farewell. His gaze then lifted to see his new son in Dinah arms. Lifting his arms in a request to hold him Dinah gently relinquished the child into them. “What is his name?” He asked. Dinah could not allow the name to pass her lips, so she stayed silent as Bilhah spoke up saying “Rachel named him Ben-Oni.” Israel’ eyes lifted from the little one’s face and his eyes grew fierce as he said. “No, His name is Benjamin.” Dinah heart returned to it rightful place at that pronouncement. Benjamin – Son of my right hand. A name filled with honor and favor. With a sad smile Israel took the babe out to meet his brothers.
From that point on the power struggle between the two sisters that had been a part of the family dynamic of Israel ceased. Leah who had always had the distinction of first wife now ruled over all the wives of Israel and the wives of the sons of Israel. The moment Israel had left with Benjamin Leah had instructed a servant to go find a wet nurse for Benjamin from the women who had been taken at Shechem. She then charged Zilpah and Bilhah to prepare Rachel’s body for burial. At once the maidservants obeyed their mistress as Leah brought Dinah to the side. “Take care of Benjamin.” She spoke. “Take him and the wet nurse to my tent. The child should not be here while we prepare his mother for burial. I place him in your charge, make sure no harm comes to him” At that moment the wet nurse had come, and Jacob placed Benjamin in her arms. With a single word Dinah led the wet nurse to Leah’s tent.
Rachel was buried and mourned with love and care, reminded of the good times as sister, wife, and mother. All of Rachel’s possessions now moved into Bilhah’s tent. Where their used to be the main tent with four tents around for each of Israel’s wives, now one tent stood prominently in the middle, with Bilhah and Zilpah tents creating wings from the main one. Now all the women worked as one under Leah, and Leah gave Dinah honor where she reigned queen. The charge that Leah gave to Dinah regarding Benjamin was never lifted, so though Bilhah took care of him throughout the night and the wet nurse cared for his needs, once Benjamin was able to toddle it was Dinah who cared and watched over him. She had been given a purpose, and she had not broken that trust.
The tent flap that usually was kept well shut was crooked because of the women’s haste, leaving an opening where one could see into the night. Curious Dinah moved to see through the crack, her heart in fear as the mourning rose to a fever pitch. Who had died? The mourning was as bad as when Rachel had died, maybe worse. Her heart cried out in fear as she looked hoping that her guess was wrong. Please not him, it cannot be him.
Please Lord she cried in her heart. Please. please, not Joseph. Not Joseph my brother. Joseph who she had toddled after and played with when they were children. Joseph the one who had come and comforted her after what had happened at Shechem instead of looting for his own gain. Joseph who had come to her in tears for the mother he had lost. Joseph the one who has shared with her some of the lessons Israel and Isaac had taught him, especially the ones that would help in the housework. Joseph the one she loved most after Benjamin. They had accepted her into their lives and household. Joseph and Benjamin were more her brothers than her blood brothers. How she adored seeing him learning from their father at the tent flap as she worked inside. How Joseph would play with his little brother and Israel would laugh and join in.
She had been a part of the secret of making Joseph’s beautiful coat. How she had loved weaving the beautiful colours together to make as masterpiece. It has been a labour of love. How she adored seeing Joseph excitement when given it. How joy filled her every time she saw it on him after. Now looking through the flap crack she made out something in her father’s hand. In a moment she recognized it. It was the coat, the beautiful coat she had made for him. Joseph’s coat, ripped and torn, covered in blood.
With a cry Dinah burst into morning. Holding onto Benjamin she wailed her anguish. Joseph, her beloved brother Joseph was dead.
“Mama,” Benjamin said, looking up at her in confusion, tears of fear and concern wetting his cheeks. “What’s wrong?”
Her grief to great words would not pass her lips, only cries as she mourned. In that moment she vowed in her heart that the calamity that happened to her, the calamity that happened to Joseph would not happen to Benjamin. Benjamin would not be Ben-Oni, he would be Benjamin and she would protect him to her last breath.
Dinah is mentioned three times in Genesis, her birth, the time that she was defiled and when all of Israel’s family went to Egypt. We do not know her story except through these times yet with all that is happening in the household of Jacob we can make some assumptions.
Dinah and Joseph were born remarkably close together and being the youngest of all the children would have probably made a close bond between the two. They would have probably played together as children until the time they would start to learn their different roles as male and female at the time. Yet that time would have created an affection for each other that no one else had. It made sense that Joseph would have looked out for Dinah more than all the brothers, and that Dinah would have been there for Joseph when Rachel had died.
Sometimes the calamities that come upon us or we bring on others without our knowledge or meaning are God’s mercies in disguise. Through Dinah the women and children of Shechem became a part of Israel’s household and became a part of the promised people of God. How many of those women, children and their descendants will be in Heaven because of the defilement of Dinah?
If Dinah had been left behind at Shechem she would not have been there for Bethel and had learned of The God of her father Israel. Neither would have the women and children. If Dinah had been left behind at Shechem she would not have been there for the birth of Benjamin. It was her experience that Dinah could understand Benjamin’s predicament, and it also created a bond with them that could not be broken.
With the death of Rachel Leah Dinah’s mother became the undisputed queen of the household of Israel. It would make sense that a sister would care for her sister’s offspring if the sister died, and Leah would have done that. She would have cared for Joseph and Benjamin as if they were her own. Zilpah and Bilhah though had sons of Israel were still maid servants and it makes sense that Bilhah at the death of her mistress would become the maidservant of Leah, the sister still living. This would place Dinah position in the household higher than Zilpah and Bilhah, for though defiled she was still the daughter of Israel and Leah, which made her the daughter of their mistress, and a mistress herself.
So, though Dinah had lost value with her father and brothers she still held power under her mother’s roof. With Leah as queen that made Dinah princess, even before the wives of the sons of Israel.
Between Joseph and Benjamin there is a gap of ten years. In that time Israel other sons could have married and had children. Leah would have had the responsibility of the care of the whole camp. Zilpah and Bilhah care for their sons and for the duties Leah would place on them. With the wives of Israel’s sons having their own children and Leah, Zilpah and Bilhah helping to raise them it would make sense that Benjamin would be cared for by Dinah. In a large family the second oldest girl would care for the children that were weaned, keeping them entertained and away from the work the women needed to do for the household. Yet Benjamin had no mother, and Dinah would never have any children. As we have read with Leah, she would have understood Dinah’s position more than most and as a mother would have allowed Dinah to care for Benjamin as much as possible.
Joseph was around seventeen when his brothers sold him to Egypt. Benjamin would have been five at the time. Israel at the loss of Joseph kept Benjamin by his side ever since. This would make sense that Benjamin would have received the same training that Joseph had by his father. Israel would have wanted to make sure no harm would come to Benjamin. Out of all the women of his household, who was the most unattached and could have giving all her care and attention to Benjamin to make sure he would not come to any harm, the answer is only Dinah.
Therefore, the relationship with Benjamin and Dinah would have been close and he would have given to her honor as do a mother. It is through Benjamin that she would have cared for his children. This devoted motherly focus on him can be seen though his lineage, for out of all the sons of Israel, Benjamin had the most sons that went with him to Egypt, ten in all. All the other sons of Israel had to share their mother’s focus, as well as their responsibilities of caring for a household and the whole household of Israel. Dinah had only one focus, Benjamin alone.
Dinah also saved the lives of the women and children of Shechem, for if she had been left at Shechem and had not been defiled then when the famine came over the land they probably would have perished. Instead, because they had become a part of the household of Israel, they went to Egypt and were spared.
What would have been the reunion between Dinah and Joseph? What rejoicing would Egypt create for her? It would make sense that Joseph would have tried to make up as much time with his father and Benjamin that he had lost, and Dinah would be the one serving or being served with her family in Joseph’s house. She would be the reigning queen of Israel by that time, for her mother Leah had already been buried in Canaan and the maidservants would serve the daughter as they served the mother. I am sure that Leah taught her daughter well.
These are all musings and hope that for Dinah the rest of her life the Lord brought joy from her mourning. We cannot know for we know that her line dies with her, yet her love and care might have still blessed Benjamin and his descendants forever.
Yet no matter what Dinah life was after Shechem we see that God did not forget about her, for we see that in the Law of God He made sure that any women placed in Dinah’s position will not be placed in the position of being used and discarded.
“But if out in the country a man happens to meet a young woman pledged to be married and rapes her, only the man who has done this shall die. Do nothing to the women, she has committed no sin deserving death. This case is like that of someone who attacks and murders their neighbour, for the man found the young women out in the country, and through the betrothed women screamed, there was no one to rescue her.
If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay her father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the young women, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.” Deuteronomy 22: 25-29
In this God placed the value of raping a virgin at 50 Shekels, which was the value of a 100-day work. In this way the Lord protected the virgins of Israel, and if they were treated in this way the man who did this to them would have to pay 100 days work for them, marry them and care for them all their days. This way the story of Dinah would never happen again, and the women of Israel descendants would not be cut off from Israel, for it is through the women descendants are seen to be of Israel blood.
So, the Lord made provision to make sure those after Dinah would be protected, and ifthey would become like her they would be provided for all their lives, by the one who did the harming. He made sure that the price was steep, for the Lord honored, loves, and protects women and even in the time where women were property He was already working toward the protection and honor of those who were the most vulnerable. So, though Dinah may be forgotten in her lifetime, God made sure she would never be.