Verses 1–5

Dinah was, for aught that appears, Jacob’s only daughter, and we may suppose her therefore the mother’s fondling and the darling of the family, and yet she proves neither a joy nor a credit to them; for those children seldom prove either the best or the happiest that are most indulged. She is reckoned now but fifteen or sixteen years of age when she here occasioned so much mischief. Observe, 1. Her vain curiosity, which exposed her. She went out, perhaps unknown to her father, but by the connivance of her mother, to see the daughters of the land (Gen. 34:1); probably it was at a ball, or on some public day. Being an only daughter, she thought herself solitary at home, having none of her own age and sex to converse with; and therefore she must needs go abroad to divert herself, to keep off melancholy, and to accomplish herself by conversation better than she could in her father’s tents. Note, It is a very good thing for children to love home; it is parents’ wisdom to make it easy to them, and children’s duty then to be easy in it. Her pretence was to see the daughters of the land, to see how they dressed, and how they danced, and what was fashionable among them. She went to see, yet that was not all, she went to be seen too; she went to see the daughters of the land, but, it may be, with some thoughts of the sons of the land too. I doubt she went to get an acquaintance with those Canaanites, and to learn their way. Note, The pride and vanity of young people betray them into many snares. 2. The loss of her honour by this means (Gen. 34:2): Shechem, the prince of the country, but a slave to his own lusts, took her, and lay with her, it should seem, not so much by force as by surprise. Note, Great men think they may do any thing; and what more mischievous than untaught and ungoverned youth? See what came of Dinah’s gadding: young women must learn to be chaste, keepers at home; these properties are put together, Titus 2:5; for those that are not keepers at home expose their chastity. Dinah went abroad to look about her; but, if she had looked about her as she ought, she would not have fallen into this snare. Note, The beginning of sin is as the letting forth of water. How great a matter does a little fire kindle! We should therefore carefully avoid all occasions of sin and approaches to it. 3. The court Shechem made to her, after he had defiled her. This was fair and commendable, and made the best of what was bad; he loved her (not as Amnon, 2 Sam. 13:15), and he engaged his father to make a match for him with her, Gen. 34:4. 4. The tidings brought to poor Jacob, Gen. 34:5. As soon as his children grew up they began to be a grief to him. Let not godly parents, that are lamenting the miscarriages of their children, think their case singular or unprecedented. The good man held his peace, as one astonished, that knows not what to say: or he said nothing, for fear of saying amiss, as David (Ps. 39:1, 2); he smothered his resentments, lest, if he had suffered them to break out, they should have transported him into any indecencies. Or, it should seem, he had left the management of his affairs very much (too much I doubt) to his sons, and he would do nothing without them: or, at least, he knew they would make him uneasy if he did, they having shown themselves, of late, upon all occasions, bold, forward, and assuming. Note, Things never go well when the authority of a parent runs low in a family. Let every man bear rule in his own house, and have his children in subjection with all gravity.