The Red Tent

by: Anita Diamant

Jacob

Characters Jacob

At the start of the novel, Jacob is a confident and charismatic man, favored by his god. He is a good husband and a kind and gentle lover to each of his wives, giving and taking satisfaction in equal measure. He meticulously ministers his attentions to each of his wives, wanting to keep peace in his household and to do what is best for his family. He works diligently as a herdsman to grow Laban’s flocks and honor his bargain of bride-prices for Leah and Rachel, while also increasing the prosperity and prospects of his family.

As a father, he is attentive to his sons and brings them to the fields with him, teaching them the ways of good pasturage as well as the religion of his father’s people. He is entirely devoted to his god and liberal with his sacrifices. When he leaves Laban’s lands to return to his own people, his is fairer and more generous in his settlement with Laban than might be expected by a son-in-law who has been treated as poorly as he was.

As Jacob grows older and his properties multiply, he changes. He becomes less of the fair and honest man he was in his youth and relies more on the poor counsel of his sons Simon and Levi than the just counsel of his wife Leah and son Reuben. He grows greedy, seeking to move continuously to new lands to increase their property. Never attentive to Dinah as a child, he is callous and unfeeling when he hears the news of her union to Shalem. He allows his sons’ suggestion of a hideous bride-price to be exacted and in doing so orchestrates his downfall. Full of regrets, Jacob dies cursing several of his sons.