Chapter 17 – Rachel
When Jacob first saw Rachel, a young shepherdess “lovely in form and beautiful”, he fell head over heels in love with her. He was willing to work for his uncle for seven years without pay if he could have her hand in marriage. Think about that, fellas. Multiply your salary by seven – would you pay that much to put a ring on the finger of your beloved?
How about fourteen times your yearly salary? In the story in Genesis 29 we learn thatUncle Laban deceived Jacob. After waiting seven years for Rachel, Jacob was tricked into marrying her older sister Leah (her story HERE). He had to work another seven years for Rachel.
We don’t know how Rachel felt about all this. I assume she loved Jacob just as intensely though she couldn’t have been happy to share him with her sister who started producing heirs right away. Rachel was barren for years. In fact, she became jealous of Leah and said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!” She was so desperate that she offered her maidservant as a surrogate.
In time God opened her womb and she bore Joseph. We can take for granted that she was a great mother to him since he grew up to be a pivotal character in Israel’s history.
I want to focus on three important verses:
Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and opened her womb. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son and said, “God has taken away my disgrace.” She named him Joseph, and said, “May the Lord add to me another son.”
Note: God remembered Rachel (he will remember us), he listened to her pleas to conceive (he will listen to our requests) and he opened her womb (he will give us our hearts’ desires). Notice also that she had great faith for she named her son Joseph which literally means “may he add”. Every time she called her son’s name she was also praying for a second one.
Finally she conceived again, but died in childbirth leaving behind Benjamin, the twelfth of Jacob’s sons. It seems a paradox to us that God would answer her prayer and then end her life, and I don't have an answer to that except that it may have been a better alternative for her. Only God knows. When Jacob took his wives and children and flocks and fled from Laban, Rachel stole her father’s household gods, idols that were forbidden by God’s law. But I don't think God was punishing her for that. After all, she may have been trying to show her father the error of his ways. What do you think?
Next Saturday – Rebekah