Jacob's Sons and the Rape of Dinah
5th century, with medieval and modern restorations
Nave, Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome
This panel is part of the extensive series of Old Testament scenes portrayed in mosaics along the two walls of the nave. It pictures the response of Simeon and Levi to Shechem's rape of their sister Dinah (Genesis 34:6-18). In the upper panel Schechem and his father Hamor (on the right) come to treat with Jacob (on the far left), who says nothing until the arrival of his sons Simeon and Levi (at his proper left). Hamor asks that Dinah be given to Shechem in marriage, and the two of them agree that in return they and their kinsmen will undergo circumcision and allow Jacob's people to stay in their land.
In the lower register Hamor and Shechem have gone to the gate of their city (at far left) to tell their kinsmen of the arrangement with Jacob and his sons (Genesis 34:20-22). The kinsmen all agree, but while they are still weak from the circumcisions Jacob's sons come and kill them all.
In a previous version of this page I said the lower register pictured the murders, but this was clearly in error. As they address their kinsmen, Hamor and Shechem are wearing the same blue and orange mantles over the same white albs as they had in the upper register, and the address is clearly at "the gate of the city" as Genesis 34:20 specifies.
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Read more about images of Jacob.
To view the other panels in this sequence, please follow this link.
Photographed at the basilica by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.