It’s really a story I’ve never quite understood. Well, the purpose of the whole thing, the story is easy enough.
A man loved a woman, her father duped him, he ended UP with two wives! That part I get.
Rachel and Leah were two sisters who married the same man – Jacob.
Their father, Laban, was Jacob’s uncle, and a farmer.
Rachel’s name means ‘ewe’ – a female sheep. Sheep can be docile animals. Leah means a wild cow or ox.
So, we know the sisters were different.
The Bible describes Rachel as beautiful and well favored.
Leah, was ‘tender eyed.” (Genesis 29:17).
Jacob was a cheat. He lied to his father, stole his brother, Esau’s, birthright and then had to go on the lam to avoid getting murdered for this crime. (Genesis 27).
Ok, so it’s not the ideal way to start a life.
Fleeing revenge from Esau he dropped in on Laban, and immediately fell in love with the beautiful Rachel.
Sad for him, he didn’t know that Laban was as dubious as he was. (Genesis 29).
Families, ya gotta’ love ‘em.
Laban saw a chance to make a buck off of Jacob’s love for Rachel. He required Jacob to work seven years for him in exchange for marrying Rachel (Genesis 29:15-18).
Seven years! Musta been true love.
The Bible says ‘So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.’ (Genesis 29:19 NIV)
Jacob, however was in for a nasty shock. Just as Jacob had deceived his own father many years ago, Laban deceived him.
After seven years of hard work, Laban tricked Jacob into marrying the older sister Leah – a lot of wine and a veil over the head of Leah during the wedding did the trick.
Imagine the shock Jacob had when he woke UP with Leah the next morning!
So, Jacob had to work another seven years before he could marry his true love, Rachel (Genesis 29). Rachel and Leah were hurt by this deception (Genesis 31:14-16), and Jacob was a little pissed.
Rachel’s troubles had only just begun. After her marriage, she found herself “barren”, while Leah, who was obviously a fertile Myrtle, gave birth to four sons in rapid succession – Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah (Genesis 29:31-35).
Taking her own fate into her own hands, Rachel came UP with a plan.
She asked Jacob to sleep with her maid Bilhah.
Apparently, there were no qualms about with whom one slept as long as “issue” was provided.
A barren woman in Bible times was shamed; no one chose not to have children back then.
This form of surrogacy was acceptable in society at that time, and Bilhah gave birth to two boys. Rachel, who had been attending the First Church of Name it and Claim it , took them as her own, and named them Dan and Naphtali.
None of this brought the two sisters closer.
Leah, not to be outdone, asked Jacob to sleep with her maid Zilpah, and alas, she too gave birth to two sons – Gad and Asher.
Seriously, why would anyone want to work for this family?
End the end, this did not satisfy Leah.
As if to rub more salt into Rachel’s wounds, Leah cosied UP to Jacob again, pulled out the Fredrick’s catalogue, got knocked UP, and gave birth to another two boys and one girl – Issachar, Zebulun and Dinah (Genesis 30).
Apparently, baby name books weren’t available.
A home such as this, where children are used as tools of revenge, could not have been a pleasant place.
Finally Rachel gave birth to a son herself. He was called Joseph (Genesis 30:22-24).
He was pretty important.
Just when it looked like things were looking UP for Rachel, Laban and his sons became jealous of Jacob’s success. Hostility grew, Jacob saw the handwriting on the wall, and headed out on the lam one more time.
Both Leah and Rachel, for some unknown reason, gladly agreed to go back to run home to Daddy! (Genesis 31).
On the way back Rachel gave birth to another son.
She died during child birth, but before her last breath, she called the child’s name Ben-oni, meaning son of my sorrow.
Jacob renamed him Benjamin – meaning son of my right hand (Genesis 35).
Ben-oni reflects Rachel’s sorrow and hurt.
I suppose we all need to be careful not to let the hurts and emotional wounds from our circumstances in life travel with us and drag us down.
According to the Bible, Rachel and Leah ended UP hating their father. (Genesis 31:14-15 NIV)
‘Then Rachel and Leah replied, “Do we still have any share in the inheritance of our father’s estate? Does he not regard us as foreigners? Not only has he sold us, but he has used up what was paid for us’
Add this to the rivalry and bitterness between them in their married home and you get a pretty sad picture.
Rachel had every cause to be angry with her father for his wrong doing. She and Jacob were very much in love and could have made a wonderful couple. Her father’s actions destroyed much of chance of this.
However, things did not have to go the way they did. Rachel’s life should stand out as a warning for us and not a mirror of our life.
By subverting God’s plan for her life, and pairing her husband with her maid, she ruined any chance for happiness.
She became bitter when she didn’t have to.
Although revenge may be sweet, forgiveness of those who’ve hurt you can cure far more ills.
Bitterness destroys (Hebrews 12:15).