Ethical Issues in the Historical Books of Tanach;
SPIRITUAL AND ETHICAL ISSUES IN THE BEREISHIT STORIES
These four books ostensibly are merely the history of Israel from the entry into the Promised Land until the destruction of the Temple and the temporary loss of independent statehood. In fact they are actually, in a specifically Jewish sense, the most deeply religious and spiritual books of the Bible. One does not have to be specifically Jewish to see or feel the religion and spirituality in the revelations of the prophetic writings or in the words of the Tehillim. They speak to all people, as evidenced by the fact that the Bible is still the world's bestseller and there are millions of non-Jews who regularly recite the Psalms. However, it is specifically and intrinsically Jewish to understand that G-d is revealed in the prosaic material, in the political, social and military events in the lives of ordinary men and women, kings and leaders that are described in the Nevim Rishonim. Here are described the ideology and religious thoughts in Judaism, while in Chronicles we have the purely historical.
These are the Sons of Yaakov 
The incident of Dina's abduction is seen by the commentators to have been in punishment for sins committed by Yaakov and Leah. This is based on the wording of the opening verse: "Now Dina, daughter of Leah whom she had borne to Yaakov, went out to look over the daughters of the land" (Ber. 34:1).
"Why was Dina not referred to as the daughter of Yaakov as is common in the Torah? Because she went out bedecked in jewelry and all her finery in violation of the codes of modesty; Leah too had lacked modesty when she went out to meet Yaakov" (Midrash Tanchuma; Abarbanel). "It is difficult for us to fathom even to the slightest, the depth of the workings of divine justice. Even though all of Leah's intentions were holy and were meant solely to establish the Tribes of Israel, Issachar and Zevulun, nevertheless, there was a very slight degree of immodesty in her going out to Yaakov and that led to the incident of her daughter Dina" (Harav Shach)."A person goes into a store and sees various items but decides that the price is inflated or the quality inferior or they simply do not like the goods. Yet, the salesman is able to tempt the customer by stressing their uniqueness, or by persisting that the price has been specially reduced just for that person until it is almost at his cost, or by other stratagems. The customer, even with- out desire to buy, nevertheless, all too often succumbs to temptation. We can learn a most basic and important lesson of the danger that temptation places before all of us from the actions of Leah, Dina, the Imahot and Avot. Avraham, who despised material wealth, nevertheless took an oath that he would not benefit from the gifts of the king of S'dom. He was convinced of the power of temptation to move one even though one has every intention of not doing a certain action, so he felt that he needed the strength of an oath to help him withstand it. Leah, even though G-d rewarded her going towards Yaakov, by granting her two tribes, nevertheless, bequeathed her slight immodesty to Dina" (Daat Torah, Rabbi Livowitz, Yeshivat Mir).
"When Yaakov said to Lavan (30:33), "Let my integrity testify for me in the future", G-d said: "Does any mortal know what the future has in store for him? In the future your daughter will be humiliated." Yaakov hid Dina in a chest so that Eisav should not have the opportunity to see her and marry her. Thus he showed a lack of faith in G-d that perhaps she would cause Eisav to repent. ["You feared that she would marry a circumcised man, verily, she will fall to an uncircumcised one" (Midrash Rabba)]. Furthermore, Yaakov was arrogant in referring to himself as lord of the lower world [Gur Aryeh on 33:20]. For all these statements, Yaakov was punished by the abduction of Dina" (Rabbenu Bachya).
"His error lay in not going directly to Bet El and redeeming his vow there. Instead he built the altar in Shechem. So Hashgacha caused the incident of Dina so that he was forced to leave Shechem and go to Bet El" (Malbim).
G-d's evaluation of human ethical and moral behavior and His subsequent punishment, in no way justify the acts of the instruments He chooses to carry out that punishment. For instance, Bayit Rishon and Bayit Sheni were both destroyed because of Israel's sins, nevertheless, both the destroyers, Bavel and Rome, were punished for exceeding their mandate. This is an essential truth to remember in the world of today where often perpetrator and victim are considered to be equally to blame. Killers of innocent bystanders and non- combatants are seen not as murders and terrorists but as liberating soldiers. Victims of business fraud are faulted for being naive or for their misplaced trust.
It in this light that the reaction of the brothers to the news must be seen: "And they were distressed and they were fired deeply with indignation" (34:7). "They saw it as a disgrace to them but this distress was mild compared to their indignation concerning the breach of the high moral standards of Israel" (Abarbanel). His was an act unacceptable even to Bnei Noah who had guarded themselves against sexual immorality after the Flood. Their distress and indignation were a message that was followed centuries later by their descendants. This was when the Tribes of Israel went to war against their brothers of Binyamin over their unwillingness to punish the men of Givah (Shoftim, 19-20).
"The first time that the Avrahamic People are referred to as Israel is in the incident of Shechem, and this even before Yaakov's name was changed to Israel. They already considered themselves part of the Holy Nation called upon to fight for G-d. What a magnificent concept of duty and morality is thus connected with this great name, that the struggle for G-d inherent in that name should be in defense of the sacred ideal of moral purity; the first mission of Israel is to safeguard that ideal" (Rabbi Munk).,
This is installment #42 in Dr. Tamari’s series on “Tanach and its messages for our times”