In this past year, we’ve seen more Bible based movies than I ever remember. Some have been really good (God’s Not Dead) and others have been a dismal failure (Noah). What is it with Hollywood messing up a story?
Take Noah for instance – we have fallen angels as rock giants helping Noah build the Ark. What about the Biblical narrative? “This is how YOU are to build the ark…” Gen. 6:15 What part of YOU don’t the movie makers understand? And what about Tubal-Cain being in the ark during the flood? What does the Bible say? “And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood.” Gen. 7:7. Only 8 people were in the ark. What about Noah trying to kill his grandchild? “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become…. ‘for I am grieved that I have made them.’ BUT Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord…. Noah was a RIGHTEOUS man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.” Gen. 6:5-9
The movie got nothing right!
Lifetime Movie Network did a mini-series based on the best selling book, The Red Tent. The story focused on Dinah, Jacob’s only daughter. The premise of the series was to tell her story, what happened to her and why do we never really hear of her again in the Bible after Genesis 34.
But, they got several things wrong. They didn’t really show Jacob’s faith in God. They showed him tired and weary from his journey and fell at the well next to Rachel. But, in Genesis 29 we see that Jacob arrives in Paddan Aram, after fleeing from his brother Esau. Jacob comes across some shepherds and asks, “My brothers, where are you from?’ ‘We’re from Haran,’ they replied…. ‘Do you know Laban, Nahor’s Grandson?’ ‘yes we know him.’
Jacob asks if Laban is well, and they reply with a resounding yes–“…and here comes his daughter, Rachel with the sheep.”
Jacob fell in love with Rachel. He asked for her hand in marriage after agreeing to work for 7 years for Laban. Laban agreed. When the seven years were complete Jacob requested her hand. A wedding feast was thrown and when it came time to give Rachel to Jacob, Laban switched the girls and Jacob lay with Leah.
The Red Tent got it wrong–it was suggested that it was the girls who tricked Jacob and it was Leah and Jacob’s little secret to pretend to be upset with Laban. Jacob worked a total of 14 years for Rachel to be his wife and he loved Rachel far more than Leah.
When it comes to Dinah – The Bible states that it was Schechem who was drawn to Dinah, not Dinah to him. That doesn’t mean she didn’t do anything to catch his eye. The Jewish historian, Josephus says that Dinah, it seems, attended a festival and freely mixed in the society as a vain and inexperienced young woman.
In the Jamieson Faucet Brown Commentary it says, “There must have been time and opportunities of acquaintance to produce the strong attachment that Shechem had for her.”
The Bible states that she was violated and not that she loved him, but that only he wanted her for a wife. Shechem didn’t respect the beliefs and customs of Jacob’s tribe – and I’m sure they were greatly afraid of Jacob, cause his clan was exceedingly great. Simeon and Levi had an evil plan. It had nothing to do with following the customs and laws of God. They wanted these men dead. And, what better way to incapacitate them than to circumcise them.
Dinah didn’t go off to Egypt, she didn’t have her son taken away from her. But, because of the disgrace of Dinah by Shechem she was never mentioned again, for she was an unclean woman in the eyes of God and Jacob.
So what happened to her. The only other passage in scripture is… “Jacob took with him to Egypt his sons and grandsons and his [daughters (daughters-in-law)] granddaughters–all his offspring…. the sons of Simeon: Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jakin, Zoar and SHAUL the son of a CANAANITE woman.” Gen. 46:7-10
Who is this Canaanite woman? Most Jewish and Christian scholars suggest that this is Dinah’s fate. Because of her disgrace with the Canaanites, she is forced to marry Simeon–and Shaul is either Shechem’s son or Simeon’s. Some may ask, what about the part where Jacob took his daughters. In verse 7 it is found to say. “Jacob too with him to Egypt…. his DAUGHTERS.” The word DAUGHTERS is the Hebrew word “bath” which means Daughter-in-Law.
I believe that if one is to make a biblical narrative movie, one must remain true to the text as it is written. Where the Bible leaves information out use the available text and weave a story that remains true to the character of the people.
It is more important to leave the story as is, and remain faithful, than to fill it with fluff. People will be grateful you did. You don’t need Rock Monsters to make Noah interesting. The evil on the earth and one man defying those odds makes a great story as it is. In Moses: God’s and Kings you don’t need to make God a child and Moses a warrior to make his story interesting – the narrative is far more interesting, when a man, called by God takes his staff and faith and rescues a nation.
Be faithful and the faithful will be grateful. As believers in Christ, it is our job to weed out the bad and get people talking. If this is all these movies do, then great! Now we have the opportunity to share Christ and open the Bible to those who don’t know the Truth of who God is!
Blessings in Christ!
J. B. Sisam