RACHEL (Hebrew : רָחֵל, Modern Rakhél, Tiberian Rāḥēl)
was the favorite of
Jacob 's two wives as well as
the mother of Joseph and
Benjamin , two of the twelve progenitors of
the tribes of Israel . The name "Rachel" means ewe .
Rachel was the
daughter of Laban and the younger sister of
Leah , Jacob's first wife.
Rachel was a niece of
Rebekah (Jacob's mother), Laban being Rebekah's
Jacob her first cousin.
* 1 Marriage to
* 2 Rachel\'s children
* 3 Death and burial
* 4 Additional references in the Bible
* 5 In
* 6 References
* 7 External links
MARRIAGE TO JACOB
James Tissot .
Rachel is first mentioned in the
Hebrew Bible in Genesis 29 when
Jacob happens upon her as she is about to water her father's flock.
She was the second daughter of Laban ,
Rebekah ’s brother. Jacob
had traveled a great distance to find Laban.
Rebekah had sent him
there to be safe from his furious twin brother,
During Jacob's stay, he fell in love with
Rachel and agreed to work
seven years for Laban in return for her hand in marriage. On the night
of the wedding, the bride was veiled and
Jacob did not notice that
Leah , Rachel's older sister, had been substituted for Rachel. Whereas
Rachel was lovely in form and beautiful", "
Leah had tender eyes".
Jacob confronted Laban, who excused his own deception by
insisting that the older sister should marry first. He assured Jacob
that after his wedding week was finished, he could take
Rachel as a
wife as well, and work another seven years as payment for her. When
God “saw that
Leah was unloved, he opened her womb” (Gen 29:31),
and she gave birth to four sons.
Sarah and Rebecca, remained unable to conceive.
According to Tikva Frymer-Kensky, "The infertility of the matriarchs
has two effects: it heightens the drama of the birth of the eventual
Jacob , and Joseph as special; and it emphasizes
that pregnancy is an act of God."
Rachel became jealous of
Leah and gave
Jacob her maidservant, Bilhah
, to be a surrogate mother for her.
Bilhah gave birth to two sons that
Rachel named and raised (Dan and
Leah responds by offering
Zilpah to Jacob, and names and raises the two sons (Gad
Asher ) that
Zilpah bears. According to some commentaries, Bilhah
Zilpah are actually half-sisters of
Leah and Rachel. After Leah
Rachel was finally blessed with a son, Joseph , who
would become Jacob's favorite child.
Rachel's son, Joseph , was destined to be the leader of Israel's
tribes between exile and nationhood. This role is exemplified in the
Biblical story of Joseph, who prepared the way in
Egypt for his
family's exile there, and in the future figure of Mashiach ben Yosef
Messiah , son of Joseph), who, in the Rabbinic Jewish view, will
fight the apocalyptic Wars of
Gog and Magog , preparing the way for
the kingship of
Mashiach ben David (Messiah, son of
David ) and the
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo of Rachel
sitting on the idols .
After Joseph's birth,
Jacob decided to return to the land of Canaan
with his family. Fearing that Laban would deter him, he fled with his
Leah and Rachel, and twelve children without informing his
father-in-law. Laban pursued him and accused him of stealing his idols
Rachel had taken her father's idols, hidden them inside her
camel's seat cushion, and sat upon them. Laban had neglected to give
his daughters their inheritance (Gen 31:14–16).
Rachel becomes a
trickster like her father, her aunt (Rebekah), and her husband.
Not knowing that the idols were in his wife's possession, Jacob
pronounced a curse on whoever had them: "With whoever you will find
your gods, he will not live" (Genesis 31:32). Laban proceeded to
search the tents of
Jacob and his wives, but when he came to Rachel's
tent, she told her father, "Let not my lord be angered that I cannot
rise up before you, for the way of women is upon me" (Genesis 31:35).
Laban left her alone, but the curse
Jacob had pronounced came true
DEATH AND BURIAL
Rachel's Tomb, near Bethlehem, 1891
Rachel went into a difficult labor with her second
Benjamin . The midwife told her in the middle of the birth that
her child was a boy. Before she died,
Rachel named her son Ben Oni
("son of my mourning"), but
Jacob called him Ben Yamin (Benjamin).
Rashi explains that Ben Yamin either means "son of the right" (i.e.,
Benjamin was the only one of Jacob's sons born in
Canaan, which is to the south of
Paddan Aram ; or it could mean "son
of my days", as
Benjamin was born in Jacob's old age.
Rachel was buried by
Jacob on the road to
Efrat , just outside
Bethlehem , and not in the ancestral tomb at
Machpelah . Today a site
claimed to be Rachel\'s Tomb , located between
Bethlehem and the
Israeli settlement of
Gilo , is visited by tens of thousands of
visitors each year.
ADDITIONAL REFERENCES IN THE BIBLE
Rachel is weeping for her children, 14th century fresco from
Mordecai , the hero of the
Book of Esther , and Queen Esther
herself, were descendants of
Rachel through her son Benjamin. The Book
Esther details Mordecai's lineage as "
Mordecai the son of Yair ,
the son of Shimi , the son of Kish , a man of the right (ish yemini)"
Esther 2:5). The designation of ish yemini refers to his membership
in the Tribe of
Benjamin (ben yamin, son of the right). The rabbis
comment that Esther's ability to remain silent in the palace of
Ahasuerus , resisting the king's pressure to reveal her ancestry, was
inherited from her ancestor Rachel, who remained silent even when
Laban brought out
Leah to marry Jacob.
* After the tribes of
Benjamin were exiled by the
Rachel was remembered as the classic mother who mourns and
intercedes for her children.
Jeremiah 31:15, speaks of 'Rachel
weeping for her children' (
KJV ). This is interpreted in
Rachel crying for an end to her descendants' sufferings and exiles
following the destruction by the Babylonians of the
First Temple in
Jerusalem . According to the
Rachel spoke before
God: "If I, a mere mortal, was prepared not to humiliate my sister and
was willing to take a rival into my home, how could You, the eternal,
compassionate God, be jealous of idols , which have no true existence,
that were brought into Your home (the Temple in
Jerusalem )? Will You
cause my children to be exiled on this account?" God accepted her plea
and promised that, eventually, the exile would end and the
return to their land.
* In the second chapter of the
Gospel of Matthew
Gospel of Matthew (part of the New
Testament ), this reference from
Jeremiah is interpreted as a
prediction of the
Massacre of the Innocents
Massacre of the Innocents by
Herod the Great in his
attempt to kill the young
Jesus . The Jeremaic prophecy is the
inspiration behind the medieval dramatic cycle
Ordo Rachelis ,
concerned with the infancy of Jesus.
Rachel (Arabic : راحيل RāḥīL), the wife of Jacob
(Yaqub), the mother of Joseph (Yusuf) and
Benjamin (Binyamin), is an
honored woman in
Islam . Yaqub and Yusuf are frequently mentioned by
name in the Qur\'an whilst
Rachel is only referenced and not mentioned
* ^ "
Rachel the Matriarch". Star Quest Production Network.
Retrieved 28 April 2011.
* ^ Bible Hub
* ^ A B C D "Rachel", Jewish Virtual Library
* ^ "
Leah had tender eyes" (Hebrew: ועיני לאה רכות)
(Genesis 29:17). It is debated as to whether the adjective "tender"
(רכות) should be taken to mean "delicate and soft" or "weary".
Some translations say that it may have meant blue or light colored
eyes. Some say that
Leah spent most of her time weeping and praying to
God to change her destined mate. Thus the
Torah describes her eyes as
"soft" from weeping.
* ^ A B C Frymer-Kensky, Tikva. "Rachel: Bible." Jewish Women: A
Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. 20 March 2009. Jewish Women\'s
Archive. (Viewed on August 6, 2014)
* ^ Ginzberg, Louis (1909) The Legends of the Jews, Volume I,
Chapter VI: Jacob, at sacred-texts.com
* ^ "Joseph" at jewishencyclopedia.com
* ^ Reisenberger, Azila, "Medical history: Biblical texts reveal
compelling mysteries", Newsroom and Publications at the University of
Cape Town website
* ^ "Rachel" at http://jewishencyclopedia.com
* ^ "Kever