Thursday, December 1, 2016

"The Red Tent" by Anita Diamant

This dramatic novel takes a simply Bible story and makes it come to life in a most unflattering yet human light.  In Genesis, countless generations read how Jacob wanted to marry Rachel--his one true love--but was tricked into marrying her sister Leah.  After this swindle, he waited seven years to be with Rachel (as was the custom in that day when some men worked for their bride-to-be's father until the agreed-upon wedding day).  Yet, in Diamant's tale, Jacob was not totally in love with Leah, and he was not such an honorable man.  Beyond having two other wives beyond Rachel and Leah, Jacob had several sons by Leah.  A drunken man can be excused for conceiving on his wedding night, but what of all the other children and women?  What other excuse is there?  Leah's only daughter Dinah is remembered in the Bible as a woman who fell in love with a prince.  The prince and her were intimate, and the prince loved her so much that he wanted to marry Dinah.  However, Jacob's sons murdered Dinah's love and doomed her to a life of misery.  From this misfortune, Dinah never forgave her family.  Diamant goes so far to presume Jacob changed his name to Israel not due to some diving encounter but rather to be rid of his former name Jacob that had become synonymous with murder and deceit.  Of course, the story of this novel is historical fiction or midrash of the Torah.  It can not be 100% verified.  However, given the blunt details of the Bible and the persuasive way this story reads, it is not difficult to imagine that the characters in the Bible really lived the way we read in "The Red Tent."  This book has adult themes and is not recommended for children.  It is also very sad, so I would not recommending it right before bedtime.

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