Rachel the Wife of Jacob:

Rachel was the wife of Jacob who founded the twelve tribes of Israel. The characteristic we see from Rachel is jealousy, resentfulness; she was a loving and giving wife and mother. Rachel is a reminder to us that being beautiful, having a great job and husband does not bring happiness.
Genesis 29-35

Rachel was the younger daughter of Laban. Laban was the Aramaean and the brother of Rebekah. Rachel was one of the wives of Jacob who was her full cousins. Jacob’s mother Rebekah was the sister of Laban. The history behind the meeting of these two came about is very interesting and can help us to understand Rachel and Jacob’s relationship.

Jacob and his twin brother Esau had quarreled over the birthright and blessing. Jacob stole both from his brother. It was out of frustration that Esau threatened to kill his brother Jacob. Rebekah suggested that Jacob leave and go stay with her brother Laban in Haran.

When Jacob first arrived at Haran he had arrived at a well in the field. It was at this well that Jacob first met Rachel who came to water the sheep. Jacob rolled the store off the well’s mouth to help water the flock of Laban, his mother’s brother. Jacob was welcomed into the family and introduced to the rest of the family. Laban had two daughters. Leah was the older and had tender or soft eyes. Rachel was the younger daughter and was beautiful and well favored. Jacob fell in love with Rachael and agreed to work for Laban for seven to have her hand in marriage. Jacob became an indentured servant for seven years.

It did not turn out this way on the night of the wedding, the bride was veiled and Jacob did not notice that Leah, Rachel’s older sister, had been substituted for Rachel. Jacob confronted Laban of his deception. The excuse Laban made was the older sister has to be married first. This type of deception is not that far from the deception that Jacob did to his brother Esau. That is the deception of the birthright for a bowl of stew and the deception of the older sister having to be married first are both examples of taking advantage of a situation. Laban assured Jacob that he would give Rachel to him after the wedding week if Jacob would work another seven years as payment for her. Jacob loved Rachel and agreed.

Rachel must have been heart broken when she discovered that her father had given her sister to marry Jacob. They were in love and everyone knew it. Jacob never loved Leah he only had eyes for Rachel. When you think about sister relationships and the competitiveness between most sisters this must have been a devastating time for Rachel. We do not know if Rachel knew about the switch beforehand, nor do we know if she warned Jacob of the switch if she did know about it. Laban had the upper hand and was in control of this situation.

It is hard to talk about Rachel without mentioning Leah. Leah gave birth to four sons and still Rachel remained unable to conceive. Usually the first wife is considered the primary wife or the wife that has the more children. That was not the way it was in this case. Rachel was the primary wife, the favored one not Leah. This did not stop Rachel from becoming jealous of her sister Leah. She was the beautiful one and yet she could not give children to her husband. Even Rachel’s own handmaid, Bilhah, gave Jacob two sons. Finally Rachel was blessed with a son for Jacob. His name was Joseph and he became the favorite to Jacob sons.

Jacob told Rachel and Leah that the LORD God had commanded him to return to his homeland of Canaan. This was after the birth of Joseph and to insure the family heritage Rachel stole the idols that belonged to Laban and the family, done without the knowledge of Jacob. Laban did not know they were leaving because he was out in the field shearing his sheep. Three days later Laban discovered that Jacob had left without saying goodbye. The LORD God had warned Laban not to harm Jacob as he and his sons chased after Jacob. Laban blamed Jacob for stealing his idols yet, when he searched for the idols he could not find them. Rachel had hidden the idols in a camel cushion where Laban could not find them. Laban left the next morning and the trip continued.

Rachel and Joseph were still the most important to Jacob when he met his estranged brother Esau. Jacob divided his children unto Leah, and Rachel and the two handmaids. He put the handmaids and their children first, then Leah and her children, and Rachel and Joseph at the very back. We know that Rachel and Joseph were put last in the receiving line so that if it was necessary they would be the ones to be safe.

They journeyed from Bethel to Ephrath: and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labor. Rachel died in childbirth and with her last breath she named her son Benoni: but Jacob called him Benjamin. Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem. Jacob set a pillar upon her grave: that is the pillar of Rachel’s grave unto this day.

Rachel was a beautiful woman and was also physically fit. She was a shepherdess and walked miles to care for the sheep. All the physical tasks that she had to do to care for the sheep had to keep her slim and trim. She was a hardworking and loved. She met the man of her dreams, Jacob, and eventually got to marry him and was his favorite the love of his life.

How difficult it must have been when her sister was the first to be given in marriage to the love of her life, Jacob. It must have been equally heart breaking when Leah could bear Jacob son after son. Rachael must have been demoralizing when she realized she was barren and could not give Jacob sons.

Then there was the total joy when she got pregnant with Joseph and could at long last give Jacob a son. Rachel did have the favor of Jacob but she still had to share him. Joseph was the favorite son of Jacob but he still had eleven other sons. When Rachel conceived again and her heart must have soared; only to be crashed because she died in childbirth and her sister Leah was the sole wife to Jacob her beloved husband. Rachel named her infant son Benoni, son of my sorrows.

Rachel is a reminder to us that being beautiful does not bring happiness. Having a loving dedicated husband does not bring us happiness. Having a job you love does not bring happiness. The roller coaster of emotions that pledged Rachel pledges all of us at times. The only true happiness and peace comes from the love of Jesus Christ and the LORD God. Gratification of life does not come in other people in our life it comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ and then with the LORD God.

Cite Article Source

MLA Style Citation:

Holstein, Joanne “Rachel the Wife of Jacob:.” Becker Bible Studies Library Feb 2015.< https://guidedbiblestudies.com/?p=2276,>.

APA Style Citation:
Holstein, Joanne (2015, February) “Rachel the Wife of Jacob:.” Becker Bible Studies Library. Retrieved from https://guidedbiblestudies.com/?p=2276,.

Chicago Style Citation:
Holstein, Joanne (2015) “Rachel the Wife of Jacob:.” Becker Bible Studies Library (February), https://guidedbiblestudies.com/?p=2276, (accessed).

Joanne Holstein is a Becker Bible Studies Teacher and Author of Guided Bible Studies for Hungry Christians. She is a graduate of Psychology/Christian and Bible Counseling with Liberty University. She is well-known as a counselor to Christian faithful who are struggling with tremendous burden in these difficult times. She is a leading authority on historical development of Christian churches and the practices and beliefs of world religions and cults.

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