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The Red Tent

Anita Diamant

Part Three, Chapter 5

Part Three, Chapter 4

Part Three, Chapter 5, page 2

page 1 of 2

Summary

Dinah happily returns home and tells Meryt her entire story. After hearing her story, Meryt tells Dinah that no daughter could have made her more proud. Several months later, Dinah finally tells Benia her history. Soon after, Meryt dies and Dinah helps to bury her. Over the next few nights, Dinah dreams of each of her mothers—first Meryt, then Bilhah, Zilpah, and Rachel. She waits to dream of Leah, but the dream does not come. When the new moon arrives, Dinah does not bleed and that night she dreams of Leah. Her mother bows her head in her dream and asks for forgiveness. Dinah gathers Leah in her arms and forgives her. In the meantime, Meryt’s daughter-in-law and granddaughter begin attending births with Dinah and soon begin delivering babies on their own.

Years later, Joseph appears at her door. Jacob lies dying, and they must go to him, for he wishes to give Joseph’s sons his blessing. Joseph orders Dinah to come with him, but she flinches at his demand and throws him a look of disgust. In response, Joseph gets down on the floor in shame and apologizes, telling her that he will bring both Dinah and Benia as his guests. Joseph talks all night and finally convinces them to go.

Dinah and Benia set off the next morning with Joseph’s caravan, which includes his two sons and his slaves. Dinah travels as the carpenter’s wife, not Joseph’s sister. They set up camp by a river for several nights, and by the light of the moon Benia teaches Dinah to swim. Finally they arrive at Jacob’s camp, and Dinah is surprised by how much it has grown, though the familiar smells bring tears to her eyes. Dinah sees her brothers and is shocked to realize that they are now old men, for she is barely able to recognize them. Joseph visits his father in his tent and does not speak to Dinah or Benia again that night. Dinah lies in her tent remembering some of the good qualities of her brothers and at last rises to go speak with Joseph. Joseph tells her that Jacob did not recognize him immediately, but then grabbed him and begged for forgiveness, cursing the memories of Reuben, Levi, and Simon. Jacob blessed his grandsons and wept for Rachel and Leah. Joseph tells her that he did not mention Dinah or the murders, and Dinah realizes that she has been forgotten in the house of Jacob.

Dinah and Benia remain at the camp with Joseph and wait for Jacob to die. Dinah sees evidence of her mothers’ faces everywhere. Gera, a daughter of Benjamin, comes to her one day and sits down to talk. Assuming that Dinah is the nurse to Joseph’s sons, she tells her about her family. Dinah learns that Reuben, Levi, and Simon have died and Judah has taken leadership of the clan. Eventually the girl begins to tell the legend of Dinah. Gera says that she does not believe the story, but that it is often recounted by members of the clan, who assume that Dinah died from grief. Gera swears that she will name her daughter Dinah.

Jacob dies that night. Dinah feels peace with the knowledge that her story is too terrible to be forgotten. As they depart from the camp, a hand stops her. Judah hands her Rachel’s lapis ring, which had been a gift from Jacob. On her deathbed, Leah requested that it be given to Dinah. Judah says that Leah spoke of her every day of her life. Dinah wonders why Leah would give her a token of Jacob’s love for her aunt. Benia believes that it means Leah forgave Rachel, indicating she died with forgiveness in her heart and that she wished the same for Dinah.

When they return home, Joseph and Dinah bid goodbye to one another. Dinah knows she will never see him again, and they say farewell fondly. Dinah stops attending births and spends her time playing with Kiya’s children. When her time arrives, she wakes in the night to a pain in her chest. As she is dying, she sees shining lights and the faces of all of her mothers. The narrative ends with Dinah thanking the reader for listening to her story and remembering her name. She closes with a blessing.

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I disagree. Leah and Rachel were polytheistic.

by sman613, April 29, 2014

Nobody can change their customs fast. These two grew up as polytheists, so it is improbable that they would have been, at least during the time frame of the story, monotheists. That is why in Genesis 35:2, Jacob needs to say: "Remove the foreign gods which are in your midst..."

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