The story of Rachel is a completed one. Jacob wanted to marry Rachel, but he was tricked into marrying her sister, Leah. He had to wait 7 years to finally marry Rachel. Now he had two wives – Rachel and Leah, who were also sisters.
Jacob did not love Leah, in fact he hated her. The Bible says that when God saw that Leah was unloved, He opened her womb; but Rachel was unable to conceive.
Leah: Unloved by Her Husband, But Loved By God
So Leah was able to have children right away with Jacob, however Rachel remained infertile. Even though unloved by her husband, Leah found fulfillment and blessings through her sons. God did not condone Jacob’s behavior, but Leah wisely recognized that the Lord cared about her in the midst of her circumstances, even when her circumstances did not change.
Rachel saw her infertility and decided to act rather than wait on God. Rachel took her grief to an extreme. She was frustrated, angry, and bitter toward her husband. Rachel was so upset that she even thought of death.
While Jacob and Rachel began with a captivating story of love, envy crept in and brought strife and bitterness to their relationship, which affected everything else in their lives. Rachel’s desire to have children is a noble one, but Rachel was impatient and accusatory when God left her womb closed for a time. Rachel did not turn to the Lord in her greatest need. Much of her grief came through wrong choices and lack of confidence in the providence of Yahweh God.
Instead of accepting Jacob’s words and waiting for God to act, Rachel, like Sarah (Abraham’s wife), gave Jacob her maidservant. Jacob complied with his wife’s decision and Bilhah became Rachel’s surrogate and conceived. Rachel believed God had given her a son and thus had rightly adjudicated the situation with her sister Leah. Rachel was further encouraged when Bilhah bore Jacob a second son. At that moment Rachel believed she had won the fight against Leah. However, victory soon turned to defeat when Leah gave her maidservant Zilpah to Jacob. Zilpah would bear two sons for Jacob.
Once again the family of Jacob turned to trickery and cunning to get what their hearts desired. When Reuben, Leah’s eldest son, brought home mandrakes (“love plants”), which were believed to be an aphrodisiac and fertility aid, a fight was inevitable. For Leah, the mandrakes might be used as a “love potion” on her husband in order to finally secure his affection for her. For Rachel, they were important because they were believed to promote conception.
Rachel played on Leah’s desire for Jacob’s affection and thus the trade was made – a night with Jacob for some mandrakes. Leah eventually would have more children with Jacob, six sons and one daughter.
Rachel Has Two Sons
God remembered Rachel in her barrenness, and she had a son she named Joseph. Joseph would become Jacob’s favored son, which would lead to the jealousy of his 11 brothers. She also would have a son named Benjamin. Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin.
Lessons from Rachel
Whew! What a story! We can learn from the story of Rachel that unfulfilled dreams and expectations often result in bitterness, anger, and unwise decisions.
How many times have you wanted something so desperately that you did whatever it took to get it, and justified your actions along the way?
Oh, that our faith would be strong enough in these moments of impulse and desperation, and that we would instead wait and trust on the Lord.
God in His love and mercy has His hand over us and protects us along the way, even in our impatient ways.
But how much more could we gain, how much more could we be rewarded, how much stronger our faith and character could be if we just wait for the Lord to act on our behalf when the time is right.
Elizabeth VS. Rachel
Yesterday we studied Elizabeth and she too was barren and unable to conceive. It’s funny – I didn’t plan for these two women to be studied back to back. However, their story is similar in that they both could not conceive.
Rachel took matters into her own hands and caused jealousy, bitterness, and the giving of her husband to another woman to get what she wanted. Elizabeth simply prayed and waited on the Lord. Both women had children, however Elizabeth avoided all of the drama and damage that Rachel’s impatience caused.
Perhaps some of our greatest blessings don’t come from the things we are so desperately seeking, but rather it is our faith that is our reward. Our trust, our dependency on the Lord, our faith in Him, and our joy in God.
Elizabeth and Rachel both had sons who they rightfully loved and adored, but because of Elizabeth’s patient faith she was rewarded without any strife or drama standing in her way and she could enjoy the gift God had given her.
We did it! We studied 5 Women of the Bible this week, and next week we’ll study Hagar, Mary Magdalene, Rebekah, Rahab, and Sarah.
Soon we will be adding to each lesson a discussion/reflection question at the end of every lesson. We are working on making printables for you – beautiful stationary that you could print out and write down your thoughts after each lesson. You could also leave your comments/thoughts in the comment’s section too. We’ll keep you updated!
Join us next week as we continue our study of Women of the Bible!
We’re studying 10 Remarkable Women of the Bible for the next 2 weeks!
Come along with us, as we study:
Eve, Mary, Ruth, Elizabeth, Rachel, Hagar, Mary Magdalene, Rebekah, Rahab, and Sarah.