Does The Hebrew Word “Annah” (Inna) Carry The Meaning Of Rape?

Deuteronomy 21:10-14 has been noted by some that the ‘provisions’ laid out in the passage are ‘remarkable’, ‘compassionate’ and ‘humanistic’. Let’s read:

Deuteronomy 21:10-14 Good News Translation (GNT)
“10 When the Lord your God gives you victory in battle and you take prisoners, 11 you may see among them a beautiful woman that you like and want to marry. 12 TAKE HER to your home, where she will shave her head, cut her fingernails, 13 and change her clothes. She is to stay in your home and mourn for her parents for a month; after that, you may marry her. 14 Later, if you no longer want her, you are to let her go free. Since you FORCED HER TO HAVE INTERCOURSE (ANAH) WITH YOU, you cannot treat her as a slave and sell her.”

This is the original reading for the verse. However, Christian apologists have argued that the GNT have wrongly translated the Hebrew word (Anah) as ‘forced intercourse’ (rape). No rape took place since the women were married, they claim.

In this third piece, we will look at verses, where the Hebrew word ‘anah’ has been used. We look and see how scholars have translated the Hebrew word ‘anah’. The passage we will focus on is Genesis 34:2.

Before reading the translations, please check word for word English and Hebrew text for Deuteronomy 34:2, where the word ‘anah’ is used:BlueletterBible.org

The context surrounding Genesis 34:2,

The Defiling of Dinah
“1Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the daughters of the land. 2When Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of the land, saw her, he took her and lay with her by force.
Dinah the daughter of Leah, went out to visit, in a different territory. Shechem, was attracted to her, grabbed by force FORCE and RAPED HER.” – Genesis 34:1-2

Translations for Genesis 34:2

Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
“2 and Sh’khem the son of Hamor the Hivi, the local ruler, saw her, grabbed her, RAPED HER and humiliated her.” – Genesis 34:2

Contemporary English Version (CEV)
“2 She was seen by Hamor’s son Shechem, the leader of the Hivites, and he grabbed her and RAPED HER.” – Genesis 34:2

Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)
“2 She was seen by Shechem, the son of Hamor the Hivite, who ruled that area. Shechem took Dinah and RAPED HER.” – Genesis 34:2

Good News Translation (GNT)
“2 When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, who was chief of that region, saw her, he took her and RAPED HER.” – Genesis 34:2

Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
“2 When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, a prince of the region, saw her, he took her and RAPED HER.” – Genesis 34:2

International Children’s Bible (ICB)
“2 Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, the ruler of that land, saw Dinah. He took her and RAPED HER.” – Genesis 34:2

International Standard Version (ISV)
“2 When Hamor the Hivite’s son Shechem, the regional leader, saw her, he grabbed her and RAPED HER, humiliating her.” – Genesis 34:2

Lexham English Bible (LEB)
“2 And Shechem, the son of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of the land, saw her. And he took her and lay with her and RAPED HER.” – Genesis 34:2

The Message (MSG)
“1-2 One day Dinah, the daughter Leah had given Jacob, went to visit some of the women in that country. Shechem, the son of Hamor the Hivite who was chieftain there, saw her and RAPED HER.” – Genesis 34:2

Names of God Bible (NOG)
“2 When Shechem, son of the local ruler Hamor the Hivite, saw her, he took her and RAPED HER.” – Genesis 34:2

Living Bible (TLB)
“2 but when Shechem, son of King Hamor the Hivite, saw her, he took her and RAPED HER.” – Genesis 34:2

GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)
“2 When Shechem, son of the local ruler Hamor the Hivite, saw her, he took her and RAPED HER.” – Genesis 34:2

New International Reader’s Version (NIRV)
“2 Hamor, the Hivite, was the ruler of that area. When his son Shechem saw Dinah, he took her and RAPED HER.” – Genesis 34:2

New International Version (NIV)
“2 When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, the ruler of that area, saw her, he took her and RAPED HER.” – Genesis 34:2

New International Version – UK (NIVUK)
“2 When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, the ruler of that area, saw her, he took her and RAPED HER.” – Genesis 34:2

New Living Translation (NLT)
“2 But when the local prince, Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, saw Dinah, he seized her and RAPED HER.” – Genesis 34:2

Tree of Life Version (TLV)
“2 When Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of the land, saw her, he took her and lay with her and RAPED HER.” – Genesis 34:2

The Voice (VOICE)
“2 But when Shechem (son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the region) saw Dinah, he grabbed her and RAPED HER.” – Genesis 34:2

New American Standard Bible (NASB)
“2 When Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of the land, saw her, he took her and LAY WITH HER [A]BY FORCE.” – Genesis 34:2

New Century Version (NCV)
“2 When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, the ruler of the land, saw her, he took her and FORCED HER TO HAVE SEXUAL RELATIONS WITH HIM.” – Genesis 34:2

New English Translation (NET Bible)
“2 When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, who ruled that area, saw her, he grabbed her, FORCED HIMSELF ON HER, andSEXUALLY ASSAULTED HER.” – Genesis 34:2

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
“2 When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the region, saw her, he seized her and LAY WITH HER BY FORCE.” – Genesis 34:2

New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised (NRSVA)
“2 When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the region, saw her, he seized her and LAY WITH HER BY FORCE.” – Genesis 34:2

New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Catholic Edition (NRSVACE)
“2 When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the region, saw her, he SEIZED HER AND LAY WITH HER BY FORCE.” – Genesis 34:2

New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE)
“2 When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the region, saw her, he seized her and LAY WITH HER BY FORCE.” – Genesis 34:2

Wycliffe Bible (WYC)
“2 And when Shechem, the son of Hamor (the) Hivite, the prince of that land, had seen her, he loved her, and he ravished her, and (he) slept with her, and OPPRESSED THE VIRGIN BY VIOLENCE (and he oppressed the virgin with violence).” – Genesis 34:2

Amplified Bible (AMP)
“2 When Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince (sheik) of the land, saw her, he KIDNAPPED HER AND LAY [INTIMATELY] WITH HER BY FORCE [humbling and offending her].” – Genesis 34:2

Expanded Bible (EXB)
“2 When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite [C one of the tribes that inhabited Canaan], the ·ruler [prince] of the land, saw her, he took her and FORCED HER TO HAVE SEXUAL RELATIONS WITH HIM [lay with her and humiliated/violated her].” – Genesis 34:2

New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)
“2 When Shechem, son of Hamor the Hivite,[a] the leader of the region, saw her, HE SEIZED HER AND LAY WITH HER BY FORCE.” – Genesis 34:2

Let’s now turn to the exegesis for Genesis 34:2.

Coffman’s Commentaries on the Bible:

“Shechem … took her … lay with her … humbled her …” As Willis pointed out, “The whole drift of this chapter indicates that Shechem RAPED DINAH AGAINST HER will and forced her to live in his house.”[7] These very words, [~laqach], meaning that, “an irresistible force was used,”[8] [~innah], meaning that Dinah was humbled, and [~timme’], meaning defiled are indeed eloquent regarding the bestiality to which Dinah was subjected. Some commentators want to make a big thing out of the fact that Dinah might have encouraged Shechem, but, so what? Even if she had consented, which was not the case at all, it was a clear case of STATUTORY RAPE. Shechem, like any other selfish, spoiled son of a ruler, simply took what he wanted when he wanted, and by force, if necessary. (Coffman’s Commentaries on the Bible – Genesis 34:2 – online source)

 

David Guzik Commentary on the Bible:

“c. Went out to see the daughters of the land: Dinahs desire to do this understandable but unwise. Jacob did not make sure she was properly supervised. To allow unsupervised socialization in a pagan town was a failure of responsibility on the part of Jacob and Leah.
i. Unattached young women were considered fair game in cities of the time, in which promiscuity was not only common but, in fact, a part of the very religious system itself. (Morris)
ii. This occurrence serves to illustrate the low standard of morals prevalent among the Canaanites. Any unattended female could be RAPED, and in the transactions that ensue neither father nor son feel the need of apologizing for or excusing what had been committed. (Leupold)
iii. But try telling this to a teenager like Dinah! Teenagers often want it all, and they want it now. It is almost impossible for them to see the benefits of waiting for certain things until they are more mature.
iv. A way this difficulty has been measured has been called the marshmallow test. A researcher gives this choice to a four-year-old: I am leaving for a few minutes to run an errand, and you can have this marshmallow while I am gone, but if you wait until I return, you can have two marshmallows. Researchers at Stanford did this test in the 1960s, and a dozen years later they found the kids who grabbed the single marshmallow tended to be more troubled as adolescents. The one-marshmallow kids also scored an average of 210 points less on SAT tests. Learning to delay gratification is important!
d. Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her and lay with her: Jacobs lack of attention and protection was partially at fault in this tragedy. His own compromise made him less able to stand up to his own children and guide them as he should.
i. Jacobs children knew he told his brother Esau he would go south with him, but Jacob went north instead. They picked up on this and other areas of compromise and used them to justify their own compromise.
e. He took her and lay with her, and violated her: As for the young man named Shechem, his soul was strongly attracted to Dinah and he even spoke kindly to her. Yet we cannot say he loved her, because he violated her.
i. It was a soulish love Shechem had for Dinah, not a spiritual or godly love. He loved her for what she could be and give to him, not for what he could be and give to her. His heart is shown in the words get me this young woman as a wife. It was a soulish get me kind of love.
ii. It is possible for a man to be attracted to a woman and to show kindness to her for reasons having nothing or little to do with love. In their desire to connect romantically with a man, women often forget this.” (David Guzik Commentary on the Bible – Genesis 34:2 – online source)

 

Peter Pett’s Commentary on the Bible:

“Like many petty princes Shechem was proud and arrogant and considered he did not have to behave as others did. When he saw the tribal girl who aroused his feelings more than any woman had before, he did not think twice about taking her and having his way with her. To him she was simply a ‘stranger’ in the land and therefore not very important. It may well be that he felt that by taking her he would render it impossible for her to marry anyone else. “Humbled her.” That is, changed her status. There is an advancement in thought. First he took her, that is sent his men to fetch her, and then HE RAPED HER. And the final result was that she was ‘humbled’ and lost her status. She was morally and socially degraded and lost the expectancy of a fully valid marriage. No act to a woman of Dinah’s status could have been more cruel. We must recognise this when we consider the passage.” (Peter Pett’s Commentary on the Bible – Genesis 34:2 – online source)

 

The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Genesis:

“34:1-31
Dinah and Shechem
34:2. Hivites. Based on their appearance in various narratives, the Hivites apparently inhabited an area in the central hill country of Canaan, ranging from Gibeon, near Jerusalem (Josh 9:1-7), to Shechem and on north to Mount Hermon (Josh 11:3; Judg 3:3). The origin of the Hivites is unknown (descendant of Ham in Gen 10:17), but it is possible that they are related to either Hurrian or Hittite peoples settling in Canaan during the period from the mid-second to early first millennium B.C. 34:2. Ravishing women.RAPE AS A MEANS OF OBTAINING A MARRIAGE CONTRACT WAS APPARENTLY ONE STRATAGEM USED IN THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST. Laws regulating this practice are found in Exodus 2:16-17, Deuteronomy 22:28-29, the Middle Assyrian laws and the Hittite laws. These often require the rapist to pay an especially high bride price and sometimes forbid any possibility of divorce. Sumerian Law 7, like Genesis 34, deals with a case where a young, unbetrothed woman leaves her parents’ home without permission and is RAPED. The result is an option by the parents to marry her to the rapist without her consent.” (The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Genesis—Deuteronomy [IVP – InterVarsity Press – Dowers Grove, Illinois, 1997] by John H. Walton, Victor H. Matthews, page 67)

The MacArthur Bible Commentary

“34:1 to see the daughters. Little did Dinah (see 30:20-21) realize that her jaunt to the nearby city to view how other women lived would bring forth such horrific results.
34:2 saw…took…violated. Scripture classifies Shechem’s action as FORCIBLE RAPE, no matter how sincerely he might have expressed his love for her afterwards (v.3) and desire for marriage (vv. 11, 12). Other expressions in the account underscore the clearly unacceptable nature of this crime, e.g., ‘defiled’ (vv. 5, 13), ‘grieved and very angry’ (v. 7), ‘a disgraceful thing… which ought not be done’ (v. 7), and ‘treat our sister like a harlot’ (v. 31).” (The MacArthur Bible Commentary [Thomas Nelson since 1798 – Nashville, Dallas, Mexico City, Rio De Janeiro, 2005] by John F. MacArthur, page 61)

The IVP Women’s Bible Commentary:

THE RAPE OF DINAH (GEN 34)
The narrative of the rape of Dinah is disturbing for several reasons. The chapter begins with Jacob and his family settling safely in Shechem, purchasing land from the sons of Hamor, the King of Shechem, erecting an altar and calling it El-Elohe-Israel, that is, ‘God, the God of Israel’ (Gen 33:18-20). It seems that we are in the age of fulfilment. With Jacob’s large family, God’s promise of many descendants is being realized, and now the preferred line is securing a foothold in the Promised Land. In this context, Dinah, reintroduced as the daughter of Jacob and Leah, sets out to visit the women of the region (Gen 34:1). This constructive effort to secure good relations is the last time that Dinah will initiate action. From here on, the narrative tells what is done to her. She becomes a pawn, and we are not even told how she responds to the events swirling around her… When Dinah sets out, she is seen by Shechem, the son of Hamor. He seizes her and RAPES HER (Gen 34:2).” (The IVP Women’s Bible Commentary [IVP – InterVarsity Press – Dowers Grove, Illinois, 2002], by Catherine Clark Kroeger, Mary J. Evans, page 23)

David W. Cotter:

“Dinah goes out ‘to see,’ and she is seen by Shechem in return. In this way, what is seen and not seen enters the story as important. Perhaps more than any other exposition in the book, this one verse is pregnant with meaning and causes real foreboding in us readers.
Dinah went out to see the local women. There is absolutely no hint in the text that she went out to see the men of the region. But in v.2 the brutal action commences as she is seen by Shechem. Three verbs show the rapidity of Shechem’s behaviour and its violence, but in a way that is not well captured by the NRSV’s translation: ‘[Shechem] SAW HER, HE SEIZED HER AND LAY WITH HER BY FORCE.’ (34:2) Better would be – after marking Shechem as the son of the local ruler and therefore a man of power, whereas Dinah is a vulnerable newcomer: ‘…saw her, he took her, lay [with] her and humiliated [or degraded, or debased] her’ (AT). 56 (Berit Olam: Studies In Hebrew Narrative & Poetry – Genesis [MG – A Michael Glazier Book – the Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 2003], by David W. Cotter page 254)

David W. Cotter goes further on Footnote 56:

56”Ordinarly the verb translated here as ‘ay’ would be followed by a preposition meaning ‘with’. That preposition is absent here, so ‘her’ follows the verb immediately. The result is a sort of coarse and vulgar Hebrew used for instances of improper or BRUTAL SEXUAL ENCOUNTER. This coarseness is, of course, further heightened by the use of the verse ‘to humiliate, degrade, debase.’ To call this something other than RAPE, as some commentaries do, seems incomprehensible to me. (Berit Olam: Studies In Hebrew Narrative & Poetry – Genesis [MG – A Michael Glazier Book – the Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 2003], by David W. Cotter page 254 [Footnote 56])

Joseph Benson’s Commentary of the Old and New Testaments:

“Verse 2
Genesis 34:2. Shechem took her, and defiled her — Hebrew, humbled her. “The word,” says Bishop Kidder, “INTIMATES HIS VIOLENCE, as well as her dissent.” Young women may learn from this to be “chaste, keepers at home,” (Titus 2:5,) which qualities have a closer connection than many are willing to believe. They that are fond of going abroad, and intermixing in company with persons of whose piety and good conduct they have no proof, often expose their virtue to a snare. From what happened to Dinah, all may learn to avoid all occasions of falling into temptation, or leading others into it. (Joseph Benson’s Commentary of the Old and New Testaments – Genesis 34:2 – online source)

 

John Gill’s Exposition of the Whole Bible:

“saw her; that is, Dinah, what a beautiful person she was, and was enamoured with her: HE TOOK HER: BY FORCE, as the Targum of Jonathan: and lay with her, and defiled her; or “humbled” or “afflicted her”F4; and it is a rule with the Jews, that every such act, which is done by FORCE, IS CALLED AN HUMILIATION AND AFFLICTIONF5: the child begotten in this act of fornication is saidF6 by them to be Asenath, who was had into Egypt, and brought up by Potipherah’s wife as her daughter, and afterwards married to Joseph, Genesis 41:45.” (John Gill’s Exposition of the Whole Bible – Genesis 34:2 – online source)

 

As we have seen, the Hebrew word ‘anah’ (inna) used for Deuteronomy 21:14 carries the meaning of rape. Although the women were married off to the soldiers, the passage tells us that this marriage was not consensual. Any sexual relations with the captive –women in Deuteronomy 21:10-14 was forceful sexual intercourse i.e., ‘rape’, as the above evidences have shown.

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