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Putting Judith's Praise of Dinah's Defense in Perspective
Biblical Heritage: The Culture of Judith

~ Simeon and Levi in Genesis 34 and Judith's understanding of the event ~

In this scripture, Judith appeals to God, referring to an incident in Genesis 34, where Simeon and his brother Levi avenge the rape of their sister Dinah. It is prior to Judith entering Holofernes' camp, but just after the rulers of Bethulian agree to let Judith carry out a plan against Holofernes:

"O Lord God of my ancestor Simeon, to whom you gave a sword to take revenge on those strangers who had torn off a virgin's clothing to defile her, and exposed her thighs to put her to shame, and polluted her womb to disgrace her; for you said, 'It shall not be done'--yet they did it; so you gave up their rulers to be killed, and their bed, which was ashamed of their deceit they had practiced, was stained with blood, and you struck down slaves along with princes, and princes on their thrones. You gave up their wives for booty and their daughters to captivity, and all their booty to be divided among your beloved children who burned with zeal for you and abhorred the pollution of their blood and called on you for help. O God, my God, hear me also, a widow." (Judith 9: 2-4)

This seems very straightforward- so how might it be problematic? Let's look closer at Genesis 34, and its possible consequences.
Who's involved:
Jacob (also called Israel): a prophet, who supplanted Esau's birthright (Genesis 25 & 27), worked for 14 years to marry Leah and Rachel (Gen. 29), and father of the twelve tribes of Israel (Gen. 49:28)
Dinah, Simeon, and Levi, (and other sons of Jacob): children of Jacob, siblings 
Shechem: Hamor's son
Hamor: Hamor the Hivite, prince of "the region" (Gen. 34:2)
Summary of events in Genesis 34:
- Dinah goes out to visit women of "the region" (v. 1)
-Shechem sees Dinah and rapes her (2)
-Shechem falls in love w/ Dinah and treats her well (3)
-Shechem tells Hamor he wants to marry Dinah (4)
-Jacob hears Dinah was raped by Shechem, sons of Jacob are in the field (5)
-Hamor goes to Jacob to talk; the sons of Jacob come in from the field and hear about the rape; the sons get very angry (6-7)
-Hamor tries to make peace and tells them Shechem loves Dinah and wants to marry her, makes an offer of peace and wealth (8-10)
-Shechem tells Jacob and sons "whatever you say to me I will give. Put the marriage present and gift as high as you like...only give me the girl to be my wife." (11-12)
*It's important to note here that Shechem still has Dinah as a hostage
-the sons of Jacob answer "decieitfully" to Hamor and Shechem- they will consent to the marraige only if every male among them is circumcised- otherwise they will take their sister back (13-17)
-Hamor and Shechem agree to "become one people" and live in peace- they return to their land, convince all the other men, and everyone gets circumcised- Shechem "did not delay to do the thing, because he was delighted with Jacob's daughter" (18-24)
-3 days later when everyone's still in pain, Simeon and Levi surprise the city and kill all the men (including Hamor and Shechem); they steal Dinah back (25-26)
-the other sons of Jacob plunder the city: "because their sister had been defiled", "they captured and made their prey" the women, children, and livestock (27-29)
-Jacob says to Simeon and Levi, "You have brought trouble on me by making me odious to the inhabitants of the land" and if they retaliate, we'll be destroyed. (30)
-But Simeon and Levi say, "Should our sister be treated like a whore?"
-In Genesis 35, God tells Jacob to take his family and flee, and God makes surrounding cities afraid so Jacob and his family are not followed
Review of Consequences:
At first glance, Simeon and Levi successfully avenge their sister's rape. However, their actions are not approved by Jacob, and in fact their actions put their whole family in danger of destruction. They are later cursed for their actions in Genesis 49:5-7 by Jacob:
"Simeon and Levi are brothers; weapons of violence are their swords. May I never come into their council; may I not be joined to their company--for in their anger they killed men, and at their whim they hamstrung oxen. Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce, and their wrath, for it is cruel! I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel."
In light of this understanding, it seems that Judith may have misunderstood Genesis 34.