the Fourth Week of Lent
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary
When Jacob went to Paddan-aram to find a wife, he met and fell in love with Rachel, the younger daughter of his uncle, Laban. Jacob worked seven years for Laban as payment for Rachel, but when the wedding day came, Laban deceived Jacob by giving him the older daughter, Leah, instead. After the wedding festivities he gave Rachel also to Jacob, but made Jacob work for him an extra seven years as payment for her. Laban also gave each of the two daughters a slave-girl as a wedding gift (Genesis 29:1-30).
While Leah produced several sons for Jacob, Rachel remained childless. She then gave her maid to Jacob, so that the maid might bear sons whom Rachel could adopt as her own. Leah did likewise with her maid, after which she produced more sons of her own. Jacob already had ten sons and a daughter by the time Rachel gave birth to her first son, Joseph (Genesis 29:31-35; Genesis 30:1-24).
Although Laban had enriched himself through his daughters’ bride price (Jacob’s years of hard work), he now planned to exclude them from the inheritance, in favour of his sons. This made Rachel so angry that when Jacob and his family left Paddan-aram for Canaan, she took her father’s idols with her. According to local custom, these gave her some claim to his inheritance (Genesis 31:1-21). Laban never regained his idols, but Jacob made sure that Rachel did not keep them once the family entered Canaan (Genesis 31:34-35; Genesis 35:1-4).
Rachel died when giving birth to Benjamin, the only son of Jacob born in Canaan. She was buried near Ramah, on the road from Bethel to Bethlehem (Genesis 35:16-20; 1 Samuel 10:2; Jeremiah 31:15). Centuries later, Jeremiah imagined the dead Rachel mourning from her tomb as her descendants were led past on their way to captivity in a foreign land (Jeremiah 31:15). She might likewise have mourned over the slaughter of the Jewish babies by Herod (Matthew 2:16-18).
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Fleming, Don. Entry for 'Rachel'. Bridgeway Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​bbd/​r/rachel.html. 2004.