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Daily Devotion for January 27, 2023


<i>The Rape of Dinah</i>, by Giuliano Bugiardini, ca. 1510.
The Rape of Dinah, by Giuliano Bugiardini, ca. 1510.

Prayers

Scripture

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Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.

Amen.

A pretty setting of Ave Maria by Pietro Mascagni, sung by the wonderful Sissel.




To Take up the Shield of Faith

Heavenly Father, let me take up the shield of faith this morning and carry it before me throughout the day. For the darkness of the world attacks my soul from every direction.

Saint Edmund’s Shield

The world wants me to hate myself and hate you, precious Lord. It tries at every turn to seduce me to the emptiness of revenge. It lures me to the love of money. Envy, anger, and vanity are the traps it sets. It tells me to worship myself until I am hollow. Pride is its bait, and death is its reward.

Defend me, I pray, against the constant assault of impurity that life in the world brings. Great and powerful God, I take up your shield, the only shield that can protect me: my hope and certainty that your love and promise to protect me, for all eternity, will be with me for the asking. For the only truth is yours, the only power is yours, and our only hope lies in you, our true and mighty and loving God. In Christ’s name I pray,

Amen.

For Confidence

My God, I am filled with fear, fear of the power of the world, fear of other men, fear of death; even though I profess confidence in my forgiveness and the eternal life you have promised to all who confess the name of Christ Jesus, I fear.

Forgive me for my imperfect faith, I pray; by the power of the One who had perfect faith, forgive me. And strengthen me, O Holy Spirit of God, strengthen me by the truth of your Word and the power of conviction, that I may fear only the power of God and walk through this day in perfect peace.

Amen.

Meditation

“The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him.”

~ Ezra 8:22

Benediction

Now to Him who has given me grace in accordance with His gospel, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for many ages past, but now revealed and made known by the command of the eternal God, so that all mankind might find the obedience that comes from faith; to the only God, the God of wisdom and truth, be glory forever through His only son, Jesus Christ.

Amen.

Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.



<i>Portrait of a Woman, “The Nun,”</i> by Giuliano Bugiardini, ca. 1506.
Portrait of a Woman, “The Nun,” by Giuliano Bugiardini, ca. 1506.

Blue Latin Cross

Genesis 34 (TLB)

The Story of Jacob [12] - The Rape of Dinah
O

ne day Dinah, Leah’s daughter, went out to visit some of the neighborhood girls, but when Shechem, son of King Hamor the Hivite, saw her, he took her and raped her. He fell deeply in love with her, and tried to win her affection. Then he spoke to his father about it. “Get this girl for me,” he demanded. “I want to marry her.”

         *         *         *

Then Shechem addressed Dinah’s father and brothers. “Please be kind to me and let me have her as my wife,” he begged. “I will give whatever you require. No matter what dowry or gift you demand, I will pay it—only give me the girl as my wife.”

Her brothers then lied to Shechem and Hamor, acting dishonorably because of what Shechem had done to their sister. They said, “We couldn’t possibly. For you are not circumcised. It would be a disgrace for her to marry such a man.

         *         *         *

So all the men . . . were circumcised. But three days later, when their wounds were sore and sensitive to every move they made, two of Dinah’s brothers, Simeon and Levi, took their swords, entered the city without opposition, and slaughtered every man there, including Hamor and Shechem. They rescued Dinah from Shechem’s house and returned to their camp again. Then all of Jacob’s sons went over and plundered the city because their sister had been dishonored there. They confiscated all the flocks and herds and donkeys—everything they could lay their hands on, both inside the city and outside in the fields, and took all the women and children, and wealth of every kind.

Then Jacob said to Levi and Simeon, “You have made me stink among all the people of this land—all the Canaanites and Perizzites. We are so few that they will come and crush us, and we will all be killed.” “Should he treat our sister like a prostitute?” they retorted.


Notes on the Scripture

The main artwork today, a depiction of the rape of Dinah, painted by Florentine artist Giuliano Bugiardini, is ridiculous in one sense: the depiction is set in 16th-century Florence. The artist, however, does get the essence of the story correct. Dinah is not raped in a completely modern sense, because it seems to have been a public abduction; there was neither law nor power to stop a king’s son from taking a foreign woman right off the street.

The reason that Bugiardini’s painting rings so true, is that a story like this might well have come from the notoriously violent society of Renaissance Italy! Dinah herself is treated largely as an object. Shechem seems to think that an offer to make her a wife, together with extravagant payment, will excuse the underlying sex-by-force.

Compare this, however, to the treatment of Rebekah by Abraham’s servant. (Genesis 24) It would be a mistake to see a wholesale objectification of women in Genesis, for Rebekah is given property, and must consent to marry Isaac, whatever her father and brother might want.

We have seen Jacob’s courage, in wrestling with God. We have seen his treacherous side, also, time and time again. But somehow, his courage fails him here. There is no explanation, simply a picture of a man afraid to protect his daughter from the powerful Canaanite peoples.

Her brothers, on the other hand, will not accept payment for the rape of their sister, for they see this as nothing more than complicity in her prostitution. Instead, they show they are Jacob’s true sons by devising a plan worthy of their father for deceit, and then avenge and recover Dinah from Shechem.

Jesus Martha Mary Bible Dorph

A feminist cynic might say that this had nothing to do with Dinah as a person, and everything to do with Levi and Simeon’s pride; her rape offended them only because, as her brothers, she was “their” property. (I have even read a claim — without any textual foundation — that Dinah was not raped, but rather fell in love with Shechem, and her brothers were acting as misogynistic brutes by interfering with her choice of lovers!) But Genesis does now allow such cynicism, for we do not see the mistreatment of women sanctioned by Abraham or his heirs; we see, in general, a respect for women that was rare in the time.

The matter has no simplistic answers. 3500 years ago, life was different. A strong man with a sword might simply kill another man to take a woman from him. We have seen both Abraham (Genesis 12:10-20 and Genesis 20:1-18) and Isaac (Genesis 26:1-11) claim that their wife was their sister, so that they would not be killed. And by all indications, both of them loved their wives!

We will see these tribes again. God gives over the Perizzites, Hivites, and Canaanites to the sword of the Hebrews, with instructions to destroy them utterly. (Exodus 23:23-24.) (It is not until Solomon, however, that they are fully conquered. 1 Kings 9:21.) Thus, in the destruction of Shechem, we see the hand of God in an early presage of the Hebrews as the chosen people of Yahweh, who are destined to struggle with and destroy the other tribes of Canaan.



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“Monsters Under The Bed”

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1 Corinthians 1:13: Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?



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