My Story (Chapter 5)

A month before the barley harvest, the mothers prepare for the journey to meet Rebecca, the Grandmother. Dinah is given copper bracelets, and the family receives new and mended clothing. The journey to Mamre takes only a few days, and they soon see Rebecca’s tent shimmering in the distance. Jacob formally introduces his wives and sons to his mother. Dinah cannot stop staring at the Grandmother, who is tall, elegantly painted, and swathed in purple robes. Rebecca is attended by a group of women wearing white robes, and each is named Deborah. Soon, Jacob’s father, Isaac, arrives; he is attended by another Deborah. As Jacob greets him, the men embrace and weep. The family sits to the meal that Dinah’s mothers have prepared, and Rebecca eats in silence, creating a somber mood at the dinner feast.

Over the next few days, the Grandmother calls for each of Jacob’s wives and interviews all four women with heavy questions. Leah is not cowed by Rebecca and maintains the gaze of her mother-in-law. Rachel is loved by Rebecca, who greets her with kisses. Rebecca tells Zilpah the time and place of her death, which Zilpah receives with a wide smile. Bilhah dreads her interview and keeps her eyes on her hands the entire time.

Dinah has been awaiting the arrival of Tabea; when she arrives, her mother takes her to see Grandmother. Rebecca sees the belt signifying womanhood around Tabea’s waist, and she curses the girl and her mother for not obeying the ritual of Innana during Tabea’s first menstrual cycle. Rebecca banishes them from her tent and curses the ways of Esau’s wives. When it is time for Jacob and his wives to return home, Rebecca requires Dinah to stay with her for three months.

During her indenture, Dinah learns the ways of the Grandmother and understands why people from afar seek her as the Oracle. Dinah begins to think more kindly of the Grandmother when a woman brings a dying baby to see her. Rebecca grasps the child’s feet and takes in the pain and suffering of both the child and his mother. All know that Rebecca can do nothing to physically help the child, but she eases the pain of the mother. Shortly after, Rebecca receives word that her messenger, the red-haired woman named Werenro who called upon Jacob’s family before the barley harvest, has been found murdered. She orders that Werenro’s bones be returned to Mamre, and a ceremony is held in her honor. Rebecca tells Dinah that she must always remember the ways of their women and honor their rituals, customs, and traditions. Rebecca knows that Leah will raise Dinah honorably, unlike the manner in which Adath has raised Tabea. Reuben arrives a few days later to escort Dinah home.