My Story (Chapter 6)

When Dinah returns to her home, she is overwhelmed by everyday occurrences that now seem foreign to her: noisy animals, crying babies, screaming women, and smelly men. Dinah feels that her every move displeases her mother, Leah, so she seeks the comfort of her aunts. As Dinah becomes reacquainted with her home, she is troubled by her imminent womanhood and becomes fascinated by the sounds of lovemaking coming from her brothers’ tents.

While Dinah is consumed by her curiosity, her father is again seized by dreams of new lands. Jacob’s family continues to grow and their land can no longer contain the size of the flocks, so Jacob and his sons discuss moving to new land. Simon and Levi visit Hamor, the king of Shechem, who agrees to give Jacob a large parcel of land with a well. The family moves, and the women feel comforted in the valley. But their comfort soon becomes unease as new women marry into the family and bring with them the ways of Canaan. Although they sit in the red tent, they do not engage in the rituals and traditions of Dinah’s mother and aunts.

One evening while squatting to relieve herself, Dinah sees a brown smear of blood on her thigh and knows that her time as a child is over. She enters the red tent and announces this news to her mother and aunts, who all immediately begin her ceremony to Innana. The women rub Dinah with henna, fill her with wine, and sing songs in her honor. Rachel uncovers the teraphim taken so long ago from Laban’s tent, and the women take Dinah into the field to open her womb and spill her first blood into the earth. But Inbu, one of Dinah’s sisters-in-law, is troubled by this ritual and reports to Levi who in turn reports to Jacob. Not versed in the ways of women, Jacob begins to look with scorn upon the red tent.

The women continue to engage in their rituals, and Dinah is now a full member of their circle. Rachel and Inna allow Dinah to attend them during births, and Dinah begins to learn the craft of midwifery. The three learn new skills from the women they meet, and Inna is most grateful for a song she learns that asks women to “fear not” during their delivery. Dinah is proud when her aunt Rachel praises her skill and voice in comforting weary mothers.