'The Red Tent' Takes Dinah Across the Desert

by Kayla Hawkins

Lifetime's latest miniseries, The Red Tent, is an adaptation of Anita Diamant's novel, which borrows from the Bible's book of Genesis. It's following the story of Jacob's family as he travels across the desert with his four wives, seven sons, and one daughter, Dinah, to Canaan, his home, and what comes next. The Red Tent is all about Dinah's story, rather than the story of Jacob, so she's front and center, and the move is an abrupt, huge change to her way of life. It also leads to her meeting her eventual husband, Prince Shalem, and therefore to the enormous tragedy that changes the very course of her life, after her brothers Levi and Rueben massacre the entire population of her husband's people as revenge for marrying her. But since location plays a pretty important role in the story, where is The Red Tent set?

Jacob is bringing his family to Canaan, an area of the middle east that is usually considered to encompass Palestine, Israel, and Syria, and some areas in surrounding countries like Jordan and Lebanon. Interesting side note — in the Bible, owning Canaan is the birthright of Jacob, whose name is changed to Israel once he returns. Hence why this area in the middle east is the home of Israel the country, and why it's considered such holy land.

Once they reach Canaan, the book of Genesis leaves the narrative of Jacob and his sons and it picks up with the story of Joseph. After sharing his prophetic dreams, Joseph is sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, and spends his years enslaved in Egypt. While there, he continues to be manipulated and have terrible luck, but his innate goodness always leads him to safety. For example, he's sent to jail, but then is made the warden of the prison because he would never try to escape.

Eventually, after slowly gaining the trust of officials who work for the pharaoh, he uses his experience interpreting dreams to become the leader of Egypt. In the novel of The Red Tent, Dinah travels to Egypt to find her brother, and sees him as the leader of Egypt. Through her travels, she falls in love again and finally goes back to working as a midwife. So if her story ever seems bleak, know that somewhere along the way from Canaan to Egypt, Dinah found happiness.

Image: Joey L./Lifetime