Some translations word Genesis 34:2 to say that he raped her, but others don't. My Strong's definition for him laying with her seems inconclusive. Is there anything else that would shed light on whether this was a forcible rape or a seduction? Or is rape meant here in a statutory sense - a rape by seduction?
I believe the wording of Genesis 34 suggests Shechem did rape Dinah.
- You are correct; Strong's use of the Hebrew word translated "lay" here by the King James [H7901] is not clearly "inappropriate" sexual contact.
- There are, however, other indications this was initially a rape.
- The King James adds, "and defiled her."
- The New International Version uses, "raped."
- The Amplified Version says, "lay [intimately] with her by force [humbling and offending her]."
- The New American Standard records, "he lay with her by force."
- I am convinced many other versions would collaborate this general meaning.
- The actions and reactions of the men afterward suggest this was a rape.
- All four of the above-named versions record in verse 5 that Jacob heard his daughter Dinah had been "defiled."
- All four versions record in verse 7 that Jacob's sons were "very angry," because such an action should not have happened.
- After 'laying' with Dinah, Hamor seeks Jacob's permission for son Shechem to marry her.
- Later, after slaying all the males of the city--including Shechem and his father Hamor--Simeon and Levi addressed father Jacob's fears that they had acted appropriately; sister Dinah should not be treated as a prostitute.
- Finally, this was a patriarchal society; Dinah would not have been allowed to independently "explore" any level of sexual relationship with men outside her family; particularly uncircumcised men.
Thanks for your question!
This is what is often said to have taken place. Does the text support the characterization?
The KJV text says initially that Shechem “lay with her, and defiled her” (Gen 34:2). “Defiled” is a form of the verb עָנָה or anah, glossed by Strong's as “to be bowed down or afflicted”, and also is translated with such words as humble, abase, force, ravish, and hurt. The word suggests not just to be put under subjection, but also to use force; when applied to women, the word can, but need not, mean “rape.” The more general meaning seems to be “place under subjection” or “subjugate.”
The text later adds that Shechem “had wrought folly” or “done a disgraceful thing” (34:7, on which see more below). “Folly” here translates נְבָלָה or nebalah, glossed “senselessness, disgrace”. The word “defiled” is used again at 34:13 and 34:27, and finally, the manslaying Simeon and Levi say, “Should he [Shechem] deal with our sister as with an harlot?” (34:31) The notion that she was made to זָנָה or zanah, “commit fornication, be a harlot,” suggests not necessarily prostitution but certainly improper extra-marital sexual relations.
I am afraid I do not see quite enough evidence here to conclude definitively or even probably that she was forced, that she did not consent, and that she was not seduced or persuaded. Note that the same language is used both here and in Deuteronomy: “she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father’s house” (Deut 22:21). We have discussed “folly”; and “play the whore” translates zanah, which is used at Gen 34:31.
In other words, Shechem’s crime is also described in the way premarital sex is described. The conclusion I am led to is that while Dinah was disgraced by Shechem, and while indeed she might have been forced, then again she might not have been; she might merely have been “seduced,” as we say.