10 FactsJewish Personalities

10 Facts About Rachel, the Wife of Jacob

1. Rachel was the daughter of Laban and the younger sister of Leah, both of whom were married by Jacob.

2. Jacob worked seven years for Laban in order to marry Rachel, but Laban tricked him and married him off to Leah.

3. Rachel didn’t want Leah to be humiliated under the wedding canopy when Jacob would discover it wasn’t Rachel, so she gave her the signs that she had pre-arranged with Jacob.

4. Jacob didn’t give up. He agreed to work another seven years, and was given Rachel in marriage. The source of the Hebrew expression “youngest daughter Rachel” — that when making a deal, specify the conditions down to the last explicit detail —  is based on the detailed condition that Jacob made in his agreement with Laban, to prevent the trickster from fooling him.

5. At first, Rachel was barren. She pleaded with Jacob to pray for her, “Give me children, for if not, I am dead!” Jacob responded in annoyance: “Am I in G-d’s place?”

6. When Rachel saw that she could not conceive, she asked Jacob to marry her maid Bilhah, hoping she would give birth to children. Finally Rachel conceived, and gave birth to two sons — Joseph and Benjamin.

7. Rachel tried to dissuade her father Laban from serving idols. She stole his idols, and hid them under herself when Laban came to her tent to search for them. Jacob was certain that the idols were not in his possession or in his home, and in front of Laban he cursed the one who stole the idols. “Whoever will be found with your gods, he shall not live.”

8. As a result, Rachel died shortly after, on the way to Efrat, immediately after the birth of Benjamin. She was only thirty-six.

9. Rachel was the only matriarch not buried in the Cave of the Patriarchs. According to most commentators, her burial place is Bethlehem.

10. Based on the Midrash, Rashi writes that Rachel cries out from her grave and, and begs for mercy for her children. The prophet Jeremiah prophesied about Rachel: “A voice is heard on high … Rachel is weeping for her children …” She is the national symbol of a mother who is praying for her children. 


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