My Story (Chapter 1)

Dinah does not remember if her earliest memories belong to her or if they are constructions of her mothers’ continual stories. Dinah’s closest companion is her brother Joseph, and although he takes his first steps before Dinah, she is the one who is first to speak. The two children are spoiled by their mothers because they are thought to be the last children the women would bear. But the great age difference among the twelve children causes a rift between the siblings: the elder children form one gang and the younger form another. The elder boys often taunt and tease the younger children, and as time goes on, the younger boys seek entry into the older group of siblings. In time, even Dinah and Joseph’s immediate brothers Zebulun and Dan are allowed to go into the hills with the elder brothers, and Dinah and Joseph are left alone in the camp. As the two begin to drift apart, Dinah spends more time with her mothers and begins to consider herself a part of her mothers’ circle.

As part of the clan of women, Dinah becomes responsible for women’s chores around the camp, namely spinning wool. When Dinah’s string comes out lumpy and uneven, Leah scolds her for having clumsy hands. Dinah throws her spinning on the ground and receives a fierce slap from her mother. Dinah seeks comfort from Bilhah, who tells Dinah a story about goddesses while teaching her to spin. Dinah shares this story with Joseph, and he counters with the story that Jacob has told him about Isaac. And so, Dinah’s world is filled with the stories and trials of her mothers and brothers.

During Dinah’s childhood, Jacob decides to move his family away from Laban’s camp. Laban resents the prosperity that Jacob has secured, and Jacob despises Laban for his sloth, greed, and arrogance. Jacob decides that he has had enough of Laban’s foolishness when the old man gambles away two of Jacob’s best herding dogs and Laban’s wife, Ruti. When the trader comes to take Ruti away, she begs the mercy of Leah, who in turn begs the mercy of Jacob. As her mother and father negotiate a plan, Dinah sees the love between her parents and is jealous of the importance that her father holds in her mother’s life. The women in the camp band together and collect a large enough bribe to pay the trader, and Ruti’s life is spared.