What Happened to Dinah After Her Abduction?

April 13, 2018

4 min read


What happened to Dinah after she was taken by Shechem? Does the Torah ever tell us anything about her life after?

The Aish Rabbi Replies

Thank you for your good question. In fact, the Torah makes only a single mention of Dinah after the tragic story of her rape and abduction. Her name is mentioned as one of the 70 who descended to Egypt (Genesis 46:15). But that is it. The Torah does not tell us anything about what happened to her for the remainder of her life, nor if she ever married and raised a family.

The Midrash (Bereishit Rabbah 80:10) fills in more detail about the events subsequent to Dinah’s abduction. It states that even after Simeon and Levi slew the city of Shechem, Dinah refused to leave captivity. She was so humiliated that she felt she could not return home and face her people – not until Simeon convinced her to come home.

(Note that she was actually a rather young girl when the entire incident occurred, 6-8 years old.)

There are different opinions in the Midrash how Simeon convinced her to return. One is that he promised to marry her. And in fact, later (Gen. 46:10), one of Simeon’s children, Shaul, is referred to as the son of the Canaanitess. As the Sages explain, this was actually Dinah, who was called a “Canaanitess” because she was abused by a Canaanite.

(Some of the commentators discuss how Simeon could have married his sister, normally a type of incest forbidden to both Jews and Noahides. They explain that this Midrash follows the opinion in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 57b) that this is not a form of incest forbidden to Noahides. See commentators to Rashi to 46:10.)

According to another opinion in the Midrash, Simeon did not pledge to marry her but to care for her. Dinah lived as a spinster in his house, never raising her own family. She descended with the nation to Egypt (as stated in Genesis 46:15), and eventually she was returned for burial in Israel, together with all the brothers. Nachmanides, following this opinion, quotes a tradition that her grave may be found near Arbel, a village in northern Israel close to the Sea of Galilee (Ramban to Genesis 34:12).

(There is a spot today marked as Dinah's tomb in that area, although it's very difficult to find. On a recent trip to the Galilee, my wife and I made a brief attempt to locate it. It's about a 10-minute walk from the nearest road. A local tour guide pointed out about where the road's closest approach is. We pulled over and my wife looked around, but there was no obvious indication we were in the right area, so we didn't attempt to wander farther.)

Another opinion is found in the Talmud that Dinah eventually married Job who (according to this opinion) was a contemporary of Jacob), no doubt exerting a very positive influence on that righteous man (Baba Batra 15b).

There is an interesting postscript to the story of Dinah. There is a Midrash which states that Dinah became pregnant from Shechem and bore a daughter. (Elsewhere the Talmud (Sanhedrin 69b) observes that in Biblical times people were able to bear children at much younger ages, as they could at much older.) The family was unsure what to do with the baby due to the stigma associated with her, and so they basically left her for adoption, leaving a medallion on a chain on her neck containing God’s name.

Eventually the child became the adopted daughter of Joseph’s own Egyptian master Potiphar. This was the same Osnat daughter of Poti Phera whom Joseph subsequently married (Gen. 41:45). Thus, Dinah’s daughter made her way back to the Jewish people, becoming mother to two tribes in Israel (Pirkei d’Rabbi Eliezer 38).

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