Rachel - Favored Wife of Jacob

Jacob Labored 14 Years to Win Rachel in Marriage

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Zavada, Jack. "Rachel - Favored Wife of Jacob." ThoughtCo, Feb. 12, 2017, thoughtco.com/rachel-favored-wife-of-jacob-701193. Zavada, Jack. (2017, February 12). Rachel - Favored Wife of Jacob. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/rachel-favored-wife-of-jacob-701193 Zavada, Jack. "Rachel - Favored Wife of Jacob." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/rachel-favored-wife-of-jacob-701193 (accessed October 20, 2017).
Jacob and Rachel
Jacob and Rachel Leaving the House of Laban by Charles-Joseph Natoire, 1732. Image: Public Domain

The marriage of Rachel in the Bible was one of the most captivating episodes recorded in the book of Genesis, a story of love triumphing over lies.

Isaac, the father of Jacob, wanted his son to marry from among their own people, so he sent Jacob to Paddan-aram, to find a wife among the daughters of Laban, Jacob's uncle.  At the well at Haran, Jacob found Rachel, Laban's younger daughter, tending sheep.

  He kissed her and fell in love with her.  Scripture says Rachel was beautiful.  Her name means "ewe" in Hebrew.

Instead of giving Laban the traditional bride-price, Jacob agreed to work for Laban seven years to earn Rachel's hand in marriage.  But on the night of the marriage, Laban deceived Jacob.  Laban substituted Leah, his older daughter, and in the darkness Jacob thought Leah was Rachel.

In the morning, Jacob discovered he had been tricked.  Laban's excuse was that it was not their custom to marry off the younger daughter before the older one.  Jacob then married Rachel and worked for Laban another seven years for her.

Jacob loved Rachel but was indifferent toward Leah.  God took pity on Leah and allowed her to bear children, while Rachel was barren.

Jealous of her sister, Rachel gave Jacob her servant Bilhah as a wife.  By ancient custom Bilhah's children would be credited to Rachel.

  Bilhah bore children to Jacob, causing Leah to give her servant Zilpah to Jacob, who had children with her.

Altogether, the four women bore 12 sons and one daughter, Dinah.  Those sons became the founders of the 12 tribes of Israel.  Rachel bore Joseph, then the entire clan left Laban's country to return to Isaac.

 

Unbeknownst to Jacob, Rachel stole her father's household gods, or teraphim.  When Laban caught up to them, he searched for the idols, but Rachel had hidden the statues under her camel's saddle.  She told her father she was having her period, making her ceremonially unclean, so he did not search near her.

Later, in giving birth to Benjamin, Rachel died and was buried by Jacob near Bethlehem

Accomplishments of Rachel in the Bible:

Rachel gave birth to Joseph, one of the most important figures of the Old Testament, who saved the nation of Israel during a famine.  She also bore Benjamin, and was a faithful wife to Jacob.

Rachel's Strengths:

Rachel stood by her husband during her father's deceptions.  Every indication was that she loved Jacob deeply.

Rachel's Weaknesses:

Rachel was jealous of her sister Leah.  She was manipulative to try to gain Jacob's favor.  She also stole her father's idols; the reason was unclear.

Life Lessons:

Jacob loved Rachel passionately even before they were married, but Rachel thought, as her culture had taught her, that she needed to bear children to earn Jacob's love.  Today, we live in a performance-based society.  We can't believe God's love is free for us to receive.

 We don't need to perform good works to earn it.  His love, and our salvation, come through grace.  Our part is simply to accept and be thankful.

Hometown:

Haran

References to Rachel in the Bible:

Genesis 29:6-35:24, 46:19-25, 48:7; Ruth 4:11; Jeremiah 31:15; Matthew 2:18.

Occupation:

Shepherdess, housewife.

Family Tree:

Father - Laban
Husband - Jacob
Sister - Leah
Children - Joseph, Benjamin

Key Verses:

Genesis 29:18
Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, "I’ll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel." (NIV)

Genesis 30:22
Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and opened her womb. (NIV)

Genesis 35:24
The sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin. (NIV)

Jack Zavada, a career writer and contributor for About.com, is host to a Christian website for singles. Never married, Jack feels that the hard-won lessons he has learned may help other Christian singles make sense of their lives. His articles and ebooks offer great hope and encouragement. To contact him or for more information, visit Jack's Bio Page.