Saturday, October 8, 2016

Rachel


Women of The Dawn
Rachel

Rachel: Co-Wives with her older sister Leah. (Women who gave birth to a nation.)

Key Scripture: Genesis 29-35; Jeremiah 31:15; Matthew 2:18

Her name means: "Ewe" Employed more or less as a title of endearment, just as the word “lamb” is among ourselves. Laban, accustomed to tenderly nursing the weak ewes as they were born, thought “ewe” to be a fitting name for his second daughter.

Her Character: It would seem as if Rachel had all the loveliness of her aunt, Rebekah. She is a woman who is very at home in the outside world. She is outdoors, taking care of animals. She has leadership abilities, along with compassion and care.

Her Sorrow: That she had to share her beloved husband Jacob.

Her Joy: That her husband cherished her and would do whatever was in his power to make her happy. 

Her Story: Isaac sent Jacob to Paddan Aram to marry a woman from among his relatives. The first relative that he sees is his cousin Rachel, a shepherdess, she was standing at a well where she had brought the family’s sheep to be watered.
Jacob immediately fell in love with Rachel. A month later he made a bargain to work for her father Laban, (Rebekah's brother) for seven years in return for obtaining Rachel as his wife. Jacob was probably 20-21 years of age and Rachel in her early teens.
On what was to be Jacob and Rachel’s wedding night, Laban lead a veiled woman to Jacob. Not until the next morning does Jacob realize that the veiled woman was not Rachel, but her older sister Leah. Heart sick and angry Jacob confronted Laban and asked how could Laban have deceived him like this? Jacob wanted Rachel for his wife, not Leah.
After the bridal week that Jacob spent with Leah, Laban gave Rachel to Jacob for his wife. Jacob worked for Laban another seven years to pay Laban for Rachel; however, she became Jacob’s wife immediately.
As the years of marriage passed, Rachel did not conceive. She became increasingly frustrated over her barrenness. At one point, she told Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!” (Genesis 30:1). Her words sounded accusatory and perhaps they were because Jacob became angry with her. He responded, “Am I in the place of God, who has kept you from having children?” (Genesis 30:2). We cannot help contrasting Jacob’s response to Rachel with that of his father’s response to Rebekah’s barrenness. Isaac’s response was to take the problem to God. He listened to her, and enabled Rachel to conceive.
Jacob determined to leave Laban and Paddan Aram; but first he consulted his wives. Rachel agreed that Jacob and the family should leave. Before the family left Laban’s camp, Rachel stole Laban’s household gods. It is hard to surmise why Rachel stole Laban’s household gods. One easy explanation was that Rachel continued to be annoyed that Laban caused Jacob to marry Leah, a rival that gave Jacob six sons. Another reason could be that Rachel thought that the gods would bring her good fortune and in some way cause her father to have ill fortune.
While Laban was away from the camp shearing sheep, Jacob and his family left with all of his belongs including livestock. Laban heard about Jacob’s departure and found that his household gods were gone. Promptly he pursued Jacob and caught up with him in Gilead.
Laban accused Jacob of deceiving him by leaving with his daughters and grandchildren while Laban was away from the camp. Further, Laban asked Jacob why he stole his household gods. Jacob did not have a clue about Laban’s household gods being in his baggage. Rachel never told her husband she stole her father’s gods. If Jacob knew Rachel’s theft he would have never utter his next words, “if you find anyone who has your gods, that person will not live” (Genesis 31:31). Then he gave Laban permission to search through all the belongings of Jacob’s family.
When Laban came to Rachel’s tent, she was seated on her camel’s saddle. Laban’s household gods were inside the saddle. Rachel called her father, “my lord” and begged his pardon for not rising because she was having her period. Although Laban searched other parts of Rachel’s tent and all the tents belonging to Jacob, Laban could not find his gods because Rachel was seated upon them.
We never learn when and what was Jacob’s response to learning that Rachel stole Laban’s gods; however, Jacob’s curse on whom ever stole the gods may have played a part in Rachel’s early death. Rachel became pregnant a second time, but had a difficult childbirth. Although Rachel lived long enough to name her son Ben-Oni (son of my trouble) she died almost immediately after the birth. Perhaps, not wanting one of his sons to carry the weight of such a name, Jacob changed the son’s name to Benjamin which means son of my right hand.

Her Place in God's Divine Plan: Mother of The Twelve Tribes of Israel.

Her Challenges Along the Way: That her longing for children led to her death in childbirth. While Leah was the fertile wife, Rachel was barren. Rachel had to listen to the crying and cooing of her sister's children, while she had none.

Her Victories: Genesis 30:22 says, "God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and opened her womb," God had remembered, but He had never really forgotten her. When the Bible says God members something, it expresses God's love and compassion for His people. It reminds us of God's promise never to abandon us.

Lesson We Can Learn from Her Legacy: We read this story and we want to hug Rachel and tell her, Don’t you see—Jacob loves you! God loves you! You aren’t defined by the offspring you can or can’t produce! And perhaps, she’d say sadly back to us, But in my world, children equal worth. Had God ever forsaken Rachel? No. God had treasured Rachel all along. Her worth in God’s eyes never came from her ability to give Jacob children, nor did it come from her beauty. Rachel’s worth may have fluctuated in the eyes of her world, but her true worth never budged. And neither does ours.

Family Tree: Daughter of Laban. Wife of Jacob. Mother of Joseph and Benjamin. Lived in the 18th century B.C. to the 14th century B.C. She lived in Haran. After 13 years they moved to Canaan.Their People were Aramaeans; Semetic origin (from Shem) Great-grandfather was Nahor, brother of Abraham. Their first cousins were Esau and Jacob.

Death: Rachel died in childbirth on the way from Bethel (also called Bethlehem) She was buried near what is now Bethlehem. Jacob set a pillar up over the tomb as a memorial to her. Estimating Rachel’s age at death is difficult; likely she was in her mid-thirties. Although the Bible does not say directly, likely Jacob deeply mourned her death. Interestingly, the Bible recorded no other children born to Jacob after Rachel’s death in childbirth. Rachel's grave, still marked outside of Bethlehem, is the oldest single memorial to a woman mentioned in the Bible.

Next week we will learn about Leah, combing their stories and God's amazing plan. Women who gave birth to a nation.

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Jo