Women of the Word | Faithful Women, Day 3
All good things come from God in His time, not ours.
Verse of the Day
When the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. Genesis 29:31 ESV
Have you ever wanted something so badly that it felt you would never have it?
Have you ever experienced being restored or receiving what you wanted from God?
Read Genesis 29:9-12
While he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherdess. Now as soon as Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, Jacob came near and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother. Then Jacob kissed Rachel and wept aloud. And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father’s kinsman, and that he was Rebekah’s son, and she ran and told her father. Gen 29:9-12 ESV
What are some things you learn about Rachel from this passage?
Rachel, having no brothers, was tasked with keeping the sheep. This was not an easy job, fully of physical demands that come with handling livestock. When a sheep would fall over, it would have been Rachel’s job to get that 100+ pound animal back upright. She also would have been responsible for the safety of the sheep meaning she fought against the predators in the region.
While, as the younger daughter, it was Rachel’s task to go to the well and draw water for her father’s sheep, it was no mere coincidence that she went that day when Jacob arrived. If Leah had gone for the water that day, what a different story might have been written of Jacob, as well as of the history of Israel.
Rachel, the name of Jacob’s beloved wife means “ewe,” employed more or less as a title of endearment, just as the word “lamb” is among ourselves.
Read Genesis 29:16-20
Now Laban had two daughters. The name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance. Jacob loved Rachel. And he said, “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.” Laban said, “It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to any other man; stay with me.” So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her. Genesis 29:16-20 ESV
It would seem as if Rachel had all the loveliness of her aunt, Rebekah.
Her sister Leah was “tender-eyed,” meaning some form of eye blemish making her less appealing than Rachel who prepossessed Jacob physically.
The Hebrew form of Rachel’s description (Genesis 29:17) suggests that she was “beautiful in form and beautiful in look.”
God does not look upon the outward appearance merely is evidenced by the fact, of which Ellicott reminds us, that “it was not Rachel, with her fair face and well-proportioned figure, and her husband’s lasting love, that was the mother of [Judah] the progenitor of the Messiah, but the weary-eyed Leah.”
Leah also bore Levi in which the line of the priests come from.
Read Genesis 29:15-31
Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife that I may go in to her, for my time is completed.” So Laban gathered together all the people of the place and made a feast. But in the evening he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and he went in to her. (Laban gave his female servant Zilpah to his daughter Leah to be her servant.) And in the morning, behold, it was Leah! And Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?” Laban said, “It is not so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn. Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also in return for serving me another seven years.” Jacob did so, and completed her week. Then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. (Laban gave his female servant Bilhah to his daughter Rachel to be her servant.) So Jacob went in to Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah, and served Laban for another seven years. When the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. Genesis 29:15-31 ESV
Why was Leah given to Jacob instead of Rachael?
Jacob had accepted Laban’s terms to take no wages for his labor in his fields, and at the end of the seven years' waiting expected to receive Rachel.
In the gloom the bride appears closely veiled, according to custom.
Laban exploited Jacob’s ignorance of the cultural customs.
Leah, by her father’s deceit, had stolen her sister’s blessing.
Isaac had blessed Jacob, believing him to be Esau, and now Jacob marries Leah believing her to be Rachel.
In the moment of his surprise discovery did Jacob remember how he had stolen his brother’s birthright by covering himself with a hairy skin and venison-smell, and making himself appear as Esau?
Read Genesis 30:1-24
When Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she envied her sister. She said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I shall die!” Jacob’s anger was kindled against Rachel, and he said, “Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?” Then she said, “Here is my servant Bilhah; go in to her, so that she may give birth on my behalf, that even I may have children through her.” So she gave him her servant Bilhah as a wife, and Jacob went in to her. And Bilhah conceived and bore Jacob a son. Then Rachel said, “God has judged me, and has also heard my voice and given me a son.” Therefore she called his name Dan. Rachel’s servant Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son. Then Rachel said, “With mighty wrestlings I have wrestled with my sister and have prevailed.” So she called his name Naphtali. When Leah saw that she had ceased bearing children, she took her servant Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife. Then Leah’s servant Zilpah bore Jacob a son. And Leah said, “Good fortune has come!” so she called his name Gad. Leah’s servant Zilpah bore Jacob a second son. And Leah said, “Happy am I! For women have called me happy.” So she called his name Asher. Genesis 30:1-24
What was Rachel’s plea to God?
What was Rachel’s response when God answered?
How would you characterize Rachel’s response to being barren while her sister was having children?
Once Rachel became Jacob’s second wife, her continued barrenness created an unreasonable and impatient fretfulness within her soul.
Seeing Leah’s many happy children made her jealous.
What anguish is wrapped up in the phrase, “But Rachel was barren” (Genesis 29:31).
Says Donald Davidson, “Rachel would taunt Leah on not having the love of her husband, while Leah would find revenge in the childlessness of her rival.”
Rachel’s whole being was bound up in the desire to become a mother, so she cried to Jacob, “Give me children, or else I die” (30:1).
Rachel should have cried to God instead of Jacob whose anger was kindled against her for her impossible request.
Certainly he loved Rachel with a true and tender love, and indignation because of her, must have been a source of bitterness.
He should have thought of the bitterness of Rachel’s disappointment, and quietly pointed out to her the withholdings of Providence.
Read Gen 30:22-24
Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb. She conceived and bore a son and said, “God has taken away my reproach.” And she called his name Joseph, saying, “May the LORD add to me another son!” Genesis 30:22-24
Poor, childless Rachel was not forgotten by the Lord for He remembered her and opened her womb (30:22-24).
She gave birth to a son, and thereby took away her reproach.
The grateful mother became a prophetess for she called her baby Joseph, which means, “The Lord shall add to me another son”—which was not merely the language of desire but the prediction of a seer.
Read Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 ESV
Of all the children of Jacob, Joseph became the godliest and greatest.
Read Genesis 31:19
Laban had gone to shear his sheep, and Rachel stole her father’s household gods. Genesis 31:19
Read Genesis 31:32-35
Anyone with whom you find your gods shall not live. In the presence of our kinsmen point out what I have that is yours, and take it.” Now Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen them. So Laban went into Jacob’s tent and into Leah’s tent and into the tent of the two female servants, but he did not find them. And he went out of Leah’s tent and entered Rachel’s. Now Rachel had taken the household gods and put them in the camel’s saddle and sat on them. Laban felt all about the tent, but did not find them. And she said to her father, “Let not my lord be angry that I cannot rise before you, for the way of women is upon me.” So he searched but did not find the household gods. Genesis 31:32-35
At least to some extent, Rachel was trusting God; why then do you think she took her father’s household idols?
How would you characterize the faith of Rachel?
The time had come for Laban and Jacob to part.
While Laban had learned by experience that he had been blessed for Jacob’s sake the patriarch likewise had been blessed, and with his wives, children and rich possessions found he could no longer live at Haran.
Jacob set out for his old home, and took with him all that God had given him.
Catching up with them Laban took Jacob to task not only for leaving so secretly but also for stealing some of his household goods and gods.
She stole the household goods, and when Laban sought for them among the goods of Jacob, she had them hid beneath her person.
Hence, Laban’s query, ‘Wherefore hast thou stolen my gods?’” (Genesis 31:30).
Because of [her father’s] superstitious beliefs, Rachel likely stole the gods to insure a prosperous journey.
Rachel manifested something of her father’s duplicity.
Those lifeless deities, the size of a miniature doll, were regarded as “indispensable evidence as to the rights and privileges of family ownership.
It was not until Jacob reached memorable Bethel that he buried those strange idols under the terebinth tree at Shechem.
Why did Jacob bury the idols?
Is there some area in your life that you are wanting something to happen so badly but it just hasn’t yet? If so, what can you do in the waiting period?
Is there some area in your life you need to let go of something instead of holding onto like Rachel did with her family's idols?