Rachel was most well-known as the favorite wife of Jacob. She is also the younger sister of Leah, Jacob’s first wife, and Jacob’s first cousin. Rachel’s father is Laban, the brother of Rebekah. Rebekah is Jacob’s mother. Rachel is also the mother of Joseph and Benjamin, Jacob’s two youngest sons.
Rachel Met Jacob
In Chapter 29 of Genesis, Rachel met Jacob while watering her father’s sheep for she was a shepherdess. After Jacob introduced himself and revealed his relationship to Rachel’s family, Rachel reported his arrival to her father.
Rachel was reportedly very beautiful (Genesis 29:17). While Jacob was staying with Laban, he fell in love with Rachel, according to Genesis 29:18. Because of this intense love, Jacob agreed to work for seven years for Laban in return for Rachel’s hand in marriage.
Jacob discovered the morning after the wedding night that he had been deceived. He had been married to and spent the night with Leah rather than Rachel (Genesis 29: 25). Laban’s excuse was that his people’s tradition is to marry the oldest off first. Jacob was assured that he could have Rachel as his wife as well after his marriage week to Leah was completed for another seven years of labor. Jacob agreed and was then married to Rachel a week later.
Rachel remained barren while:
- Rachel’s sister Leah produced four sons for Jacob.
- Rachel’s jealousy of her sister’s ability to produce children for Jacob caused her to give her servant Bilhah to Jacob to have children for her. Bilhah bore two sons to Jacob.
- The conflict between Leah and Rachel caused Leah to give her servant Zilpah to Jacob to have two more sons when she realized that she was no longer having children herself.
- Leah had two more sons and a daughter.
Rachel’s Final Days
Finally, after many years Rachel bore Jacob two sons, Joseph, was mentioned in Genesis 30:22-24. Joseph was Jacob’s favorite son (Genesis 37:3). Though Rachel bore Jacob a second son, Benjamin, she also died during his birth.
You can read in Genesis, chapter 31, that after Joseph’s birth, Jacob took his family and left the area of Haran for his homeland of Canaan without announcing his departure to Laban expecting trouble from Laban. Upon leaving, Rachel stole her father’s false gods and hid them in her mattress. Laban soon caught up with them and demanded his gods. Jacob, not knowing that Rachel had them, permitted her father to search. Jacob pronounced a curse of death upon anyone that had them. Laban did not find them as Rachel was exempted from the search as she claimed to be unable to rise from her mattress because of her period.
However, it was not long after this occurrence that Jacob’s curse came true when Rachel died during the birth of Benjamin as revealed in Genesis 35:18. Genesis 35:19-20 tells us that Rachel died and was buried on the way to Bethlehem. Jacob set a pillar over her tomb that is still said to mark Rachel’s grave.
Elsewhere in the World
During this time on the Bible World History Chart the following events at various locations around the world are recorded:
- Middle Kingdom of Egypt reestablished prosperity and stability. This brought about art, literature and building projects reappearing on the Egyptian scene. Military and political security, agricultural and mineral wealth, and religion all flourished during this time period.
- Hittites take over the area now covered by Turkey. The Hittites were considered members of the Bronze Age, but forerunners of the Iron Age.
- Bronze to Iron Age – During this time period making items of bronze seemed to be migrating into the Iron Age. The manufacture of artifacts from iron was noted. Iron became a very valuable commodity and was used to produce goods.
- In Greece – In Greece, the Middle Helladic Period was in full swing. During this time settlements drew closer together and gravitated toward hilltops. During this time period rectilinear pottery was being influenced into curvilinear by the Minoans.
- China – The first Chinese dynasty known as the Xia migrated into the Shang dynasty around the 18th century.