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One night, a stranger appears in the family’s camp and
introduces himself as Eliphaz, the eldest son of Esau. He reports
that Esau is coming with his brothers, wives, and bondsmen to greet
Jacob and his family. Jacob, who had been planning to divide his
family and move in two directions so that Esau could not destroy
them all in one attack, worries. He now must wait for Esau’s arrival,
since the river behind them bars any escape. Jacob directs the family
to put on their finest attire and offers Eliphaz beer and food.
Before long, Esau appears with his family behind him. Jacob and
Esau walk out to greet each other alone. Jacob bows low to Esau
and greets him as a slave would a master, but Esau pulls him up
and hugs him tight to his chest. Jacob offers many sheep and goats
as offerings to his brother, and they introduce the two families
to one another, with Jacob carefully differentiating his wives.
Dinah spies a girl her height among Esau’s children. The
two girls become fast friends by telling each other stories about
their respective families. Tabea mentions that the women of her
clan do not celebrate the new moon in the red tent, because their
shared grandmother Rebecca, the Oracle of Mamre disapproves of the
red tent. Dinah tells Tabea about the world inside the red tent,
including the songs, cakes, and stories contained therein. The two
girls speculate about who will reach womanhood first. Tabea proclaims
she wants no children, since she has seen many women die in childbirth. Instead
she would prefer to serve at Mamre or sing at a great altar.
The two families enjoy a large evening meal together at
which Esau and Jacob tell stories. The men begin singing, and soon
the women and children join in. The next day, Jacob rejects his
brother’s offer to join him on his lands and chooses instead to
find his own lands for his family to make their fortune. Tabea and
Dinah kiss goodbye, knowing they will see each to again soon at
their grandmother Rebecca’s tent for the barley festival. The next
day, Jacob finds a spot of land he likes near Succoth and declares
it their new home.
Dinah has trouble adjusting to the daily routines of life
after the longs months of travel. She begins to do more baking and
brewing, graduates from spinning to weaving, and is given charge
of the bondswomen’s children. In the meantime, Judah, Simon, and
Levi all marry. One morning, a woman’s voice is heard in their camp, calling
for the wives of Jacob. It is a messenger from Jacob’s mother Rebecca,
calling them all to the barley festival. The messenger has a silvery
dress and red hair, and her name is Werenro. Werenro rests in their
camp and joins them for the evening meal. She sings a beautiful and
memorable song to them about the beginning of the world. After dinner,
the women begin to plan for the trip to Mamre.
Jacob reunites with Esau, assuaging his fears. As the
two families meet each other, Dinah begins to understand how her
father perceives the women in the family. Against all expectations,
Esau is warm, welcoming, and ecstatic at reuniting with his brother.
Inna laughs to herself at Jacob’s foolishness, though his wives
wisely keep silent. For the first time, Dinah hears the distinction
between Jacob’s wives voiced publicly. Jacob introduces his family
to Esau one by one, calling Leah and Rachel his wives and Zilpah,
“Leah’s girl,” and Bilhah, “Rachel’s handmaid.” Dinah notices that
the heads of the women’s sons drop to hear their mothers so named,
and she becomes more aware of her favored status both as the sole
daughter of Jacob and the child of his first wife, Leah. She finds
many girls among Esau’s children but reminds herself that she is
the daughter of Jacob, the favored son. In the weeks since their
journey from Haran began, Dinah has continued to create an independent
identity for herself. She has developed a strong sense of pride
and distances herself from the young girls who follow after their
Dinah’s introduction to her cousin Tabea opens her eyes
to a new and disparate world of women’s rituals and beliefs. She
is shocked to learn that Tabea’s family does not honor the women’s
practices in the red tent. As she explains the ritual of marking
the new moon, Dinah realizes its significance in her life and thinks
of how fortunate she feels to participate in her mothers’ traditions.
She feels pity for Tabea, whose mothers do not celebrate together
and who are disliked by their grandmother. As a result, Dinah’s
growing sense of superiority further increases. Tabea’s proclamation
that she does not plan to have children shocks Dinah. Schooled in
the ways of her family, Dinah cannot imagine a life for herself
in which children do not surround her. Since she has already begun
to learn the skills of healing and midwifery from Rachel, she feels
attracted to the power of women to carry and bear life and knows
that childbearing lies in her future. Though they are the same age,
Dinah feels wiser than Tabea and more knowledgeable about the life
Werenro, a fictional creation of Diamant’s, has a tremendous impact
on Dinah. Werenro is the first woman she has met who is not a wife
or mother, but instead she is a servant to her grandmother and a
symbol of the power of the matriarch of her family. Werenro’s exotic
red hair and position as messenger seem entirely foreign to Dinah,
and she cannot help but want to know more about this woman who wears
the pierced earring of a slave. Dinah imagines her as a wild, carefree
woman. Werenro says little to the family but beckons Dinah to sit
by her and smiles when she sees that Dinah enjoys her song. Dinah
makes a connection with Werenro through her song, empathizing with
the messenger’s loneliness at being far away from home. She also
begins to feel a stirring within her to see more of the world herself,
to see the things that Werenro has seen. Her connection to Werenro
is rekindled later in the novel when they meet again.