The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
Did you ever wonder what happened to Dinah, daughter of Jacob and Leah of Old Testament times? Ms. Diamant goes beyond the slaughter of the men of Shechem and weaves the “rest of the story” of the life of Dinah, the only daughter of Jacob, a daughter who lived obscurely in the shadows of her father and brothers. Before she writes that part of the story, she also describes, in beautiful and compassionate detail, the lives of the women who occupy the Red Tent.
Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah are the four wives of Jacob. They have 12 sons, direct descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and one daughter, born to Leah. The custom of the day was for the women to congregate in the Red Tent during their days of menstruation. It was an honor and a much-anticipated time when a young girl becomes a woman and may stay in the Red Tent once every month. In a patriarchal culture, the Red Tent signified the “women-only” place to get away from the rigors of caring for the men.
According to Ms. Diamant, Dinah’s life does not end with the slaughter of the men of Shechem. She courageously and beautifully continues on to lead a productive and revered life, in spite of the murderous knee-jerk reaction of her crazy and either/or minded brothers. Dinah’s story is a tribute to the women of that culture.
Review by Harriet Engle