Sunday, December 10, 2017

A child is born 10: It’s a girl!

Genesis 30. 21
Afterwards Leah bore a daughter, and named her Dinah.

This is one of only two mentions I have been able to find in the Bible of the birth of a daughter (the other is in Hosea 1.6 – see Dec 21). There are plenty of daughters in Scripture, of course; every woman is someone’s daughter. Their actual births aren’t mentioned, though, probably because they were not seen as significant.

So why is Dinah’s birth recorded, the last of Leah’s children to be mentioned? To find out we need to turn on to Genesis chapter 34, where we find the rest of the story of Dinah. Shechem, a powerful man from a neighbouring tribe rapes her, and then tries to take her as his wife. Jacob and his sons are outraged and engineer retribution not only on Shechem but also on the rest of the men in his tribe. Dinah’s feelings about all this are not recorded. She has no agency at any point in the story, but it is significant in the history of the development of Israel, which is why we hear of it.

I have included her story so that we notice how invisible girl babies are in Scripture. In many societies, girls are still seen as an unwelcome burden, because dowries may have to be paid for their marriages or because they will leave the family home on marriage, and not be able to help with the work. Gender selective abortion and infanticide have resulted in a significant gender imbalance in some parts of the world. In parts of rural China, as a result of the one child rule,  130 male babies have been born for every 100 female babies over several decades. Many men now have little possibility of marrying. This is an unintended, but surely not unforeseeable consequence of a policy which failed to take into account the deeply rooted bias towards sons in Chinese society.

·         Dinah has no voice in her own story. What do you think she would say to us if she could?
·         Are there any stories in your family history where parents particularly wanted a boy or a girl, or where girls and boys were treated differently as they grew up?

·         Pray for children growing up in families where their gender is not welcome or celebrated.  

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