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I must admit I do not devour books. Reading was not something I grew up with as a child, but I have learned to become a better reader over time. Every time I finish a book, I find some sort of peace. I seek out knowledge through books, and I try to read a little every day. Sometimes though, a book captures me in such a way, that I become obsessed with the world inside it. I live it, I dream about it, think about it and it consumes me. The Red Tent was one of these books.
The subject matter? Women of ancient times. Specifically one woman: Dinah, mentioned only once in the Bible in the Book of Genesis. Her story comes to life. Her youth, her traditions, and the red tent. A place where women of ancient civilizations used to gather during the new moon, to observe their menses, and bring ritual and in some cases honor the life bearing blood that fills wombs every month.
Not only did the story of Dinah, daughter of Lea, Rachel, Zilpah and Bilhah bring knowledge of ancient womanhood practices, including midwifery and births, marriage, sex, and a young girls turning of age through her period. My journey with these women, made me understand the strength of the covens that formed during times where their stories, and names were barely mentioned.
This story is rooted on the Bible story of “The Rape of Dinah” in Genesis 34, where the episode of her violation by Shechem is later avenged by her brothers Simeon and Levi on the city of Hamor, father of Shechem.
The Bible is a book where the female is scantly sacred, where lineage is remembered by fathers, and where the births of sons is most honorably, and women’s honor is due for the rise of power for man and tribe. Anita Diamant transforms the stories of Laban, Rachel, Lea, Jacob and Joseph and flips it on its head. She remains true to the old written word, but delves into a world lost by time filling in the gaps of Dinah’s story. A woman’s world where magic, wisdom, strength and faith are rooted on the spirit of the female.
I give praise to The Red Tent, for it gave me sight into a world where eyes need to go, where women ought to be honored, and most of all remembered.
If you love history, if you want knowledge of ancient womanhood, and if you want to dive deep into a story of love, magic and blood, then I invite you to open the pages of this book.
Thank you to the author, and thank you to Dinah, whatever your real story may have been, today we remember you had a story too, and we honor your story now.