Rachel: Wife of Jacob, Mother of Joseph & Benjamin

rachel

History seems to repeat itself here. Twice a town well in Haran was the site of significant events in one family’s story. It was here that Rebekah met Eliezer, Abraham’s servant, who had come to find a wife for Isaac. Some 40 years later, Rebekah’s son Jacob returned the favor by serving his cousin Rachel and her sheep from the same well. The relationship that developed between them not only reminds us that romance is not a modern invention but also teaches us a few lessons about patience and love.

Jacob’s love for Rachel was both patient and practical. Jacob had the patience to wait seven years for her, but he kept busy in the meantime. His commitment to Rachel kindled a strong loyalty within her. In fact, her loyalty to Jacob got out of hand and became self-destructive. She was frustrated by her barrenness and desperate to compete with her sister for Jacob’s attention. She was trying to gain from Jacob what he had already given: devoted love.

Rachel’s attempts to earn the unearnable are a picture of a much greater error we can make. Like her, we find ourselves trying somehow to earn love – God’s love. But apart from His Word, we end up with one of two false ideas. Either we think we’ve been good enough to deserve his love or we recognize we aren’t able to earn his love and assume that it cannot be ours. If the Bible makes no other point, it shouts this one: God loves us! His love had no beginning and is incredibly patient. All we need to do is respond, not try to earn what is freely offered. God has said in many ways, “I love you. I have demonstrated that love to you by all I’ve done for you. I have even sacrificed my Son, Jesus, to pay the price for what is unacceptable about you – your sin. Now, live because of my love. Respond to me: love me with your whole being: give yourself to me in thanksgiving, not as payment.” Live life fully, in the freedom of knowing you are loved.

Strengths and Accomplishments

  • She showed great loyalty to her family
  • She mothered Joseph and Benjamin after being barren for many years

Weaknesses and Mistakes

  • Her envy and competitiveness marred her relationship with her sister, Leah
  • She was capable of dishonesty when she took her loyalty too far
  • She failed to recognized that Jacob’s devotion was not dependent on her ability to have children

Lessons From Her Life

  • Loyalty must be controlled by what is true and right
  • Love is accepted, not earned

Vital Statistics for Rachel

  • Where: Haran
  • Occupation: Shepherdess, housewife
  • Relatives: Father: Laban. Aunt: Rebekah. Sister: Leah. Husband: Jacob. Sons: Joseph and Benjamin

Key Verse for Rachel

“So Jacob served Laban seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her” (Genesis 29:20)


The ESV Study Bible, Large Print edition features the content of the award-winning ESV Study Bible with a highly readable, large-print type. Extensive study notes, charts, maps, and articles make this study Bible a valuable resource for serious readers, students, and teachers of God’s Word.

Rachel’s story is told in Genesis 29-35:20. She is also mentioned in Ruth 4:11

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  1. Who was Rachel in the Bible and what role did she play in biblical history? Rachel was one of the two wives of Jacob, known for her beauty and her significant place in the patriarchal lineage. Her story encompasses themes of love, rivalry, and motherhood, impacting the narrative of the Israelite tribes.
  2. What is Rachel’s significance in the story of Jacob’s life? Rachel’s entrance into Jacob’s life marked a pivotal moment. Her love for Jacob and the challenges they faced—such as her father Laban’s deception and her initial infertility—shaped Jacob’s journey, illustrating endurance and faith amid trials.
  3. How does Rachel’s story connect with the broader biblical narrative? Rachel’s story intertwines with the foundational history of Israel. Her sons, Joseph and Benjamin, became integral in the development of the twelve tribes of Israel, with Joseph playing a prominent role in the nation’s later history.
  4. What qualities or lessons can we draw from Rachel’s life? Rachel’s life teaches us about patience, faithfulness, and the complexities of relationships. Her persistence in prayer for children, despite challenges, reflects trust in God’s timing and sovereignty.
  5. What impact did Rachel’s legacy have on future generations and biblical prophecy? Rachel’s descendants played crucial roles in Israel’s history. Her son Joseph became a key figure in Egypt, ultimately leading to the Israelites’ migration. Additionally, biblical prophecies mention Rachel’s weeping, symbolizing mourning and hope for the exiled Israelites, highlighting her lasting impact.

Recommended Reading for Rachel

  1. Rachel and Leah: Women of Genesis” by Orson Scott Card This novel delves into the lives of Rachel and Leah, exploring their complex relationship with Jacob. Card weaves historical and biblical elements into a compelling narrative that illuminates their roles in the patriarchal story.
  2. Rachel: A Novel” by Jill Eileen Smith Smith’s novel delves into Rachel’s life, offering a fictionalized but well-researched portrayal of her experiences. It delves into the dynamics of her relationships, struggles with infertility, and her journey of faith within the context of biblical history.
  3. Great Women of the Bible in Art and Literature” by Dianne Wolkstein and Phyllis C. Greenacre This book examines the portrayal of Rachel, among other biblical women, in art and literature across various cultures and time periods. It provides insights into how Rachel’s story has been interpreted, depicted, and celebrated through the ages.

These books offer varying perspectives on Rachel’s life, from historical and biblical analyses to fictional narratives, providing readers with a deeper understanding of her significance and the impact of her story on literature and culture.


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