Study Guide

The Red Tent Part Two, Chapter Five

By Anita Diamant

Part Two, Chapter Five

  • So, the fam is going to the barley fest to visit Grandma, but Simon and Levi stay behind because their wives are both pregnant. Judah stays behind because he's trying to get his wife pregnant.
  • After a few joyful days of traveling, the fam reaches Rebecca's tent, which is bigger than any kind of tent Dinah has seen before.
  • Hugs and kisses from Grandma, right?
  • Er, nope. Gram just kind of sits there with her arms crossed looking surly and stuff.
  • Rebecca has ten women servants, and she is called the "Oracle." Isaac, her husband, lives a short distance away in Arba.
  • Oh, and Tabea hasn't arrived yet, which frustrates Dinah a little bit.
  • Shortly after Dinah arrives, so does Isaac. He is blind, and he embraces Jacob with weeps.
  • After a bit of silence, Rebecca finally speaks—at first, Dinah thought she was mute.
  • But beautiful sing-songy words don't exactly come out of Rebecca's mouth. Instead, she orders Jacob's daughters to cook to see if they are any good at it.
  • The women make Rebecca a grand meal, but she doesn't praise it or anything. She just kind of eats a little bit of it—and that's all.
  • So, as you can see, Rebecca is a pretty powerful and intimidating woman.
  • Rebecca then starts to tell everyone the story about how she came to Mamre, where they all presently are.
  • Rebecca also talks about how she had countless miscarriages, only to give birth to two sons—Jacob and Esau.
  • When everyone is dismissed from her storytelling, Rebecca summons Leah into an inner chamber of the tent.
  • Ooh, inner chamber. That's a good sign.
  • Inside the inner chamber, Rebecca basically plays the hot-seat game with Leah. She rattles off question after question. She wants to know everything about Leah.
  • But Rebecca doesn't intimidate Leah. In fact, Leah intimidates Rebecca because of her crazy eyes.
  • Rebecca then interviews the rest of Jacob's wives.
  • Rebecca gives Rachel a makeover, and they laugh together. So that one went well.
  • Rebecca tells Zilpah a poem about a goddess, then predicts the details of her death. But Zilpah likes that kind of stuff, so she's left with a huge grin on her face.
  • Bilhah doesn't get the whole grandmotherly love thing, though. She and Rebecca sit in silence for a bit, and then Rebecca just leaves.
  • Ouch.
  • Then Tabea arrives with one of her mothers (but not her direct mother), Adath, who has come with Esau.
  • Dinah notices a belt that Tabea is wearing, meaning she's been in the red tent. Looks like Tabea beat Dinah to adulthood. This makes Dinah a bit jelly.
  • Unfortunately, Tabea and Dinah's reunion is cut short by Rebecca, who screams at Adath for not letting Tabea go into the red tent during her first period.
  • This is like a huge deal, by the way. Rebecca slaps Adath with all of her might, leaving Adath and Tabea disgraced from the family.
  • So even though Tabea isn't at fault for anything, she's still disgraced. That seems a bit unfair.
  • Dinah is confused, so Leah tells her the bad news about Tabea and how she will suffer for the rest of her life.
  • Yeah, harsh stuff right here.
  • But Leah is able to talk to Dinah about how sometimes life is unfair. That night, Adath disappears into the night with Tabea.
  • Dinah isn't a huge fan of Rebecca anymore, which makes the next bit of info pretty horrible: she has to stay with Rebecca for three more months unaccompanied by any of her mothers.
  • Three months at Grandma's house? Ugh.
  • During these three months, Dinah doesn't exactly have a great time, but a few things stick out to her about her grandmother.
  • Once every seven days, Rebecca cooks. But she kind of stinks at it.
  • Esau comes to Rebecca with gifts every two weeks, so Dinah can at least see her generous uncle.
  • Rebecca pretty much hates all of Esau's wives, and she really doesn't think that Jacob's wives are any better.
  • Rebecca then makes fun of all of them. Why you gotta be so mean, Becky?
  • Oh, and Rebecca's husband, Isaac, gets the worst of her wrath.
  • Rebecca also won't let Dinah into the red tent. Mer.
  • The one redeeming quality of Rebecca, however, is that she serves as an oracle to pilgrims who seek her out every morning.
  • In one case, a woman has a child of about three years of age whose feet are mangled and burned.
  • Rebecca picks the boy up, applies ointment to his feet, and rocks him to sleep. After seeing this act of kindness, Dinah can't hate Rebecca.
  • Later on, Dinah receives news of Werenro: she was murdered in Tyre.
  • So Dinah is having a grand old time at Grandma's.
  • Finally, on the last day, Rebecca tells Dinah that some unhappiness awaits her, despite the fact that her life will be a long one. She also tells Dinah that she forgives her for hating her.
  • Dinah returns to her mothers absolutely devastated.