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Biblical People

Biblical People: Rachel

Rachel is Jacob’s second—and favorite—wife. She is also his first cousin. (Her father, Laban, and his mother, Rebekah, are brother and sister.)

Rachel is a shepherdess. Her story starts when Jacob’s parents send him to their home country to find a wife from his mother’s family. It must be love at first sight, for when he sees Rachel, he cries and kisses her. She’s beautiful, and Jacob falls in love. Though they do get married, her dad first marries off her older sister Leah to Jacob. The sisters become co-wives, forever vying for their husband’s affections.

Though Jacob loves Rachel more than Leah, it’s Leah who has kids, while Rachel struggles with infertility. Rachel becomes jealous of her sister. Morality aside, this is a practical reason not to have multiple wives, especially those who are sisters.

In desperation, Rachel offers her maidservant to Jacob to produce children in her place. Jacob should have known better than to accept this, especially seeing how badly it worked out for his grandmother, Sarah, when she did this with Abraham.

Escalating the competition, Leah then does the same thing, offering her maidservant to Jacob to produce more children as her proxy.

Later, in a move reminiscent of Esau trading his birthright to Jacob for food, Rachel trades a night with her husband for some mandrakes, a plant believed to have magical powers, possibly including fertility. Ironically, while Rachel pursues magic to get pregnant, Jacob plants a seed in Leah for another child.

God eventually answers Rachel’s prayers for a son, and Joseph is born. Then Rachel asks God for another boy. Tragically, she dies giving birth to her second son, Benjamin.

Though a beautiful woman with a loving husband, Rachel’s life is filled with conflict and in wanting what she doesn’t have.

Are we happy with what God gives us or do we desire more? When in conflict, do we escalate the situation, like Rachel and Leah, or seek peace?

[Discover more about Rachel in Genesis 29–31 and Genesis 35.]


Read about other biblical women in Women of the Bible, available in audiobook, e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 700-page website ABibleADay.com to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and numerous books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

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Bible

Watering Animals is a Prelude to Marriage

In the Bible there’s the story of Jacob, who rolls away the stone from the well to water Rachel’s sheep. They get married.

Then there’s Moses. He rescues some shepherd girls when they are being harassed and provides water for their flocks. He marries one of them.

It’s just not a guy thing, either. Rebekah provides water for a stranger and his camels, showing herself to be the one for Isaac, son of the stranger’s master. They get married.

Sometimes performing simple acts of service result in some most amazing things.

[Genesis 29:10, Exodus 2:16-21, and Genesis 24:15-20]

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 700-page website ABibleADay.com to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and numerous books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

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Bible

A Love Story: Life Sustaining Water

In a love story, culturally distant and a bit strange to us, Jacob is enamored by the fetching Rachel. In an act of service, to garner her attention, he rolls away a stone from the mouth of a well to provide life-sustaining water for her sheep. It works and she becomes his bride.

In another love story, also culturally distant and a bit strange, Jesus, in an act of service sacrifices himself for those he loves. Three days later Jesus is resurrected and an angel rolls away the stone that sealed his tomb, effectively providing living water for his sheep; that would be us. It works and symbolically we become his bride.

The water is provided as an act of love. We drink the water to accept the love.

[Genesis 29:10, Matthew 28:2, and Mark 16:1-6]

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 700-page website ABibleADay.com to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and numerous books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

Categories
Bible

Jacob’s Twelve Sons…and Their Four Moms

In Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat, a reoccurring theme is Jacob’s twelve sons.  What isn’t apparent from Dreamcoat is many of the sons were half brothers. Jacob was indeed the father of all, but there were four different moms.

Here is how this convoluted family tree happened:

Jacob fell in love with Rachel (his uncle’s daughter, that is, his first cousin). Since he had no dowry, he agreed to work for his uncle seven years for her hand in marriage.

The morning after the wedding, he discovered that his veiled bride was actually Leah, Rachel’s older sister.  He had been duped by his Uncle Laban. After protesting, Laban also gives Jacob Rachel’s hand in exchange for another seven years of labor.

Leah begins having children (six sons in all), but Rachel is childless — so she has her husband sleep with their maid, Bilhah, to produce children in her stead; Bilhah has two sons. In an escalating competition, Leah follows suit, giving her maid, Zilpah, to sleep with Jacob; Zilpah also has two sons.

Finally, Rachel gets pregnant and has Joseph. As the first-born of Jacob’s favorite wife, Joseph is doted upon by his father; hence he is given the infamous coat of many colors, thereby earning the wrath of his brothers.

Later, Rachel also gives birth to Benjamin, the youngest of the twelve; sadly Rachel dies in childbirth.

Although the nation of Israel is launched through these twelve sons, Jacob’s family life is a lesson of everything not to do.

[See Genesis, chapters 27 through 29.]

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 700-page website ABibleADay.com to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and numerous books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.