Prologue

A woman in the Bible who is only known through a passing reference, Dinah introduces herself to the reader and thus claims a voice in the narrative of her own history. Dinah recognizes that for centuries she has remained virtually nameless—she has been a woman associated with rape and revenge. Her father and brother, the well-known Jacob and Joseph from the Book of Genesis, dominate Biblical stories surrounding their family, and Dinah has only been the object of her brothers’ war-like quest to avenge her honor. In this tale, the women’s stories have been lost, replaced by the memory and the oral tradition of men.

Dinah is now here to reclaim her voice, to give life to her story, and to give honor to her name. According to Dinah, there is much more to her story than what the Bible tells. She recalls her past as a midwife and rejoices in the stories she once sang. Dinah reminds the reader that to know a woman is to know her mother; for Dinah, this is complicated because she lived with four mothers—the four daughters of Laban and his wives. Each woman contributed to Dinah’s upbringing and character development: Leah, Dinah’s mother by birth, passed on her arrogance; Rachel passed on her gifts of midwifery; Zilpah taught Dinah to think; Bilhah listened. As one would imagine, these four distinctive personalities did not always agree. Dinah’s mother and aunts shared Jacob as their husband; as a result, they were caught in a mess of conflicts in the home.

But the women cherished Dinah, the only daughter in their sea of sons, and to Dinah they gave their stories. They were of course proud of the sons they bore for Jacob because each woman was measured by her sons, yet they cherished the daughter who would ease their troubles. Through Dinah, the women’s stories remained alive. The women gifted these stories to Dinah in the red tent, the place where women sat out their menstrual cycles and gave birth.

Now even though Dinah has left home and her mother and aunts have passed away, she carries their memory in their stories. She offers these stories here to the reader, whom Dinah knows craves the truth. She promises to offer the entire story to the satisfaction of the reader. Dinah blesses the reader and welcomes the reader into this story that has never been told.