Earlier we talked about Rebekah & her son Jacob. Rachel was Rebekah’s niece, daughter of Rebekah’s brother, Laban.
In those days, families were small & sometimes intermarriage was inevitable. Such was the case with Rachel. Jacob had traveled a great distance to visit his uncle Laban. While he was there, he happened upon Rachel as she was watering the sheep. (Something that brings the story home to us, since watering the flocks is part of our daily chores.)
Jacob was so taken by Rachel that he agrees to work for seven years for his uncle. On the night of the wedding, however, Leah, Rachel’s sister, was substituted. Of course the bride was veiled, so Jacob did not know this. Apparently the family was trying to marry off the older sister, who should be married first — at least this what Laban told Jacob when he was confronted with the deception.
Another thing that happened in those days is that men could have more than one wife, so to make things up to Jacob, Laban told him he could wed Rachel as well if he worked another seven years. To this Jacob agreed, but he always favored Rachel.
Poor Leah was seen as unloved, no doubt by her relatives as well as the Lord, so God blessed her with four sons while Rachel remained unable to conceive.
Rachel, understandably, became jealous of Leah. We then see any exchange of handmaids, the sort of tit-for-tat that sisters universally engage in. And while this was happening, Leah had yet another son.
But all was not lost. Rachel was finally bless with her son, Joseph, who would become Jacob’s favorite child & the leader of the Israelite tribes during the difficult time as they rose to become a nation.
But Rachel’s life was not to be a happy one, despite her blessed son. Jacob wanted to return to Canaan with his family & left without telling Laban. As they were leaving, Rachel took her father’s pagan idols, since Laban had not given his daughter’s their inheritance.
Jacob knew nothing of this action by his wife & when Laban came to protest, accusing Jacob of the theft. Jacob, of course, knew nothing & laid a curse of the Lord upon the thief to prove his innocence.
But anyone with whom you find your gods shall not live. In the presence of our kinsfolk, point out what I have that is yours, and take it.” Now Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen the gods.
Poor Rachel. When Laban searched the tents she claimed that it was her time of the month & so he did not search there. The idols were not found, but the curse, with the power of the true God behind it, had been made. She went into a difficult labor with her second son, Benjamin & died shortly after giving birth.
It is a sad story, but one of a mother dedicated to her family & her son nonetheless.