Genesis 34:1-3 NASB

[1]Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the daughters of the land. [2]When Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of the land, saw her, he took her and lay with her by force. [3]He was deeply attracted to Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the girl and spoke tenderly to her.

When Jacob left Paddan Aram (Genesis 31) after spending twenty years with Laban,he had twelve children who probably ranged between one year to thirteen years of which Dinah must have been around four years.

We find her visiting the daughters of Shechem & the fateful event that took place (Genesis 34),Could the journey from Paddam Aram to Shechem have taken some years so as to warranty that by the time they reached Shechem Dinah had attained the age of marriage,or there is a chronological issue?

4 Answers 4


A time-line of OT events is indispensable when making this type of inquiry. The one at biblehistory.com has an excellent interface.

Dinah was born around the time of Joseph's birth:

19 And Leah conceived again, and bare Jacob the sixth son. 20 And Leah said, God hath endued me with a good dowry; now will my husband dwell with me, because I have born him six sons: and she called his name Zebulun. 21 And afterwards she bare a daughter, and called her name Dinah.
And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb. 23 And she conceived, and bare a son; and said, God hath taken away my reproach: 24 And she called his name Joseph; and said, The LORD shall add to me another son.

Now, according to biblehistory.com, Joseph was born around 1700 BC, and the incident involving Dinah occurred around 1685 BC, making Dinah about 15 years old.


There are various sources in Rabbinic thought about this: Tractate Sofrim (last chapter) says that Dinah was 6 years old.

Midrash Sechel Tov (to Gen. 34:4) says she was 8.5 years old.

Similarly, R. Saadia Gaon and R. Bahay say (to Gen. 34:3) she was 8 years and 1 month old.

R. David Ganz (Zemah David, Year 2206) records opinions that she was either 9 or 10 years old.

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    Abraham's wife, Sarah, is the only woman in Genesis with an age shown (actually the only female in the Old or New Testament with an age given). There's no way to calculate exactly what age Dinah was. I agree. We'll get numerous estimates. Jun 12, 2020 at 18:21

Keil and Delitzsch's commentary states the following - and I find it the most grounded:

Dinah was probably between 13 and 15 at the time...There is no ground for supposing her to be younger. Even if she was born after Joseph, and not till the end of Jacob's 14 years' service with Laban, and therefore was only five when they left Mesopotamia, eight or ten years may have passed since then, as Jacob may easily have spent from eight to eleven years in Succoth, where he had built a house, and Shechem, where he had bought a parcel of a field. But she cannot have been older, for according to Gen 37:2, Joseph was sold when he was 17, in the 11th year after Jacob's return from Mesopotamia, as he was born in the 14th year of Jacob's service with Laban.

In the iterim between Dinah's seduction and the sale of Joseph there occured nothing but Jacob's journey from Shechem to Bethel and thence to Ephratah, in the neighbourhood of which Benjamin was born and Rachel died, and his arrival to Hebron (Gen 35). This may all have taken place within a single year. Jacob was still at Hebron when Joseph was sent to Shechem and sold by his brethren (Gen 37:14); and Isaac's death didn't happen for 12 years afterwards, although it is mentioned in connection with the account of Jacob's arrival to Hebron (35:27)

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The first difficulty in determining the timeline is whether the births recorded in Gen 29-30 occurred in the order recorded. There is nothing in the text that indicates that the precise order of naming in the text was the order of birth. The text more clearly establishes, however, that Reuben was the firstborn, while Dinah and Joseph were born last.

Even so, even if Leah had one child per year, Reuben could be no less than seven years older than Dinah; perhaps he was considerably older, because “Leah saw that she had left bearing” (Gen 30:9) for a time, implying that there was a gap, probably of some years, between Judah and Issachar. Now, Leah began her childbearing, presumably, in the eighth year of Jacob’s sojourn in Haran, meaning that the earliest that Dinah could have been born was around the 16th year of Jacob’s sojourn. Therefore, Dinah was likely not older than four years old when the family left Haran.

Now, Jewish scholars reading the Mishnah said a girl could be betrothed—and a marriage consummated—as early as three years old. The idea is incredibly repugnant, of course, and most commentators assume Dinah was a teenager, although this is only a conjecture. To tip my hand here: we really have no idea how old she was, but there are good reasons for the conjecture "she was a teenager."

She went visiting by herself, something certainly no little girl would do, nor would be allowed to do; but perhaps, you might say, she was with other, older females? Perhaps. If she were (incredibly) a very little girl, surely the text would note that fact.

So let us assume that considerable time has passed, i.e., it was not mere weeks or months between the events of Gen 33 and Gen 34, but years. Where would the family have passed the time? One possibility is that the family spent significant years at Succoth, as perhaps implied by the fact that they built a “house” there (33:17).

Another possibility is that they spent years in the family property outside of Shechem, as perhaps implied by the facts that they purchased land, and that the suggestion that the tribes be intermixed was treated seriously on both sides.

A final possibility is that, though we are not told so, Jacob resumed his father’s and grandfather’s nomadic ways, and Shechem was merely one of their stopping-places; a reading of Gen 35 does not rule this out, but makes it somewhat less likely.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we should also take stock of the fact that at least some brothers are called “men.” Assuming manhood began at age 20 (when a boy’s value increases from 20 to 50 shekels: Lev 20:3), and assuming Simeon and Levi were born 9 and 10 years into Jacob’s Haran sojourn, it follows that these boys were 11 and 10 when Jacob met Esau, and so another 10 years, at least, had to have passed.

This should not be too surprising since gaps in the narrative are often passed over in total silence in the Bible. So it is entirely possible that Dinah was in her teen years, with her oldest brothers in their 20s.

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