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Comparative Character Analysis On Simeon And Levi And Their Implications

1631 words - 7 pages

Anita Diamant’s novel The Red Tent is a Midrash revolved around the biblical passage of Genesis 34: Dinah and the Shechemites. In this story Anita Diamant gives a voice to Simeon and Levi’s sister, Dinah, who is known as the woman who was raped then later loved by Shechem. After Shechem’s injustice of Dinah, Shechem and his city were slaughtered by Simeon and Levi. Both bible passages and the novel The Red Tent provide some similar and some different characteristic traits for Simeon and Levi which in turn allows the readers to take away and learn more from the Midrash story. The readers are able to further involve themselves in the relevance of Dinah’s voice and story. Even though Simeon and Levi are separate individuals, for the purpose of this character analysis, I will be treating Simeon and Levi’s character aspects as of one character. Because the character of Simeon and Levi in the bible were described as cruel but nevertheless righteous whereas in Anita Diamant’s novel, The Red Tent, they are cruel, unrighteous and deceitful; the differences and similarities of their characters are easily brought forth which in turn enabled Anita Diamant to provide Dinah’s story with more relevance and implication.
In the Testament of the Patriarchs, Simeon and Levi are characterized as strong and fearless with a zeal for cruelty, yet they were considered righteous in their vengeance on Shechem. Simeon and Levi have high ambitions and they strived for perfection. “Moreover, I became strong exceedingly; I shrank from no achievement, nor was I afraid of ought” (Simeon 2:3). They were characterized as men with high values on status and leadership who often acted on their emotions rather than reasoning. The decisions made by Simeon and Levi in regards to the slaughter of Shechem were rash, cruel and violent yet they were also considered to be righteous in their slaughter. “But I saw the sentence of God was for evil upon Shechem; for they sought to do to Sarah and Rebecca as they had done to Dinah our sister, but the Lord prevented them” (Levi 6:8). In the Testament of Levi we are given the notion that the vengeance brought upon Shechem was ordered by God because of the injustice done to Jacob’s family and the unlawfulness of the intermarriage between an Israelite and a convert. Simeon and Levi grew through both their experiences of violence and faith. Eventually they repented their sins they brought upon Joseph, their brother. The most significant aspect of their personalities is their zeal for cruelty and violence. In the Testament of the Patriarchs, it is understood that God came to both the Simeonites and Levites discussing their enthusiasm for violence. Eventually, even though warned by Simeon, the Simeonites could not overcome their obsession of cruelty and violence. Therefore, the Simeonites numbers eventually decreased and they were finally absorbed into the Judahites. The Levites, on the other hand, overcame their zeal for cruelty and violence by...

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