Omissions? This midrash awards the birthright to Joseph, since his two sons became tribes and he therefore received twice as much as any of his brothers. Later, when Leah was given in marriage instead of Rachel, the latter revealed the signs to her sister in order to spare her from being disgraced by Jacob. TheTorahattests of Rachel(Gen. 29:17): Rachel was shapely and beautiful; and of her son Joseph (39:6): Now Joseph was well built and handsome [the two verses uses the same Hebrew phrases:yefat/yefeh toar,vi-yfat/yefeh mareh], to which the Rabbis apply the saying: Throw a stick into the air, and it will [always] fall on its end(Gen. Rabbah86:6). After that I consoled myself, I suffered [to overcome] my desire and had compassion for my sister that she not suffer disgrace, and I gave her all the signs that I had given to my husband, so that he would think that she was Rachel. Possibly in the early fall of 2248 AM (1757 BC), Rachel protested to Jacob concerning her lack of children. How old was Rachel when she died. Let us know. xxiii. In Ruth 4:11, she is named as one "from whom all the nation of Israel descended." 60a), and who are often referred to in the liturgy, Rachel being mentioned before Leah. In the New Testament, this same verse in Jeremiah is cited in Matthew 2:18 as a prophecy fulfilled through Herods order to kill all male children under two in Bethlehem and the surrounding areas. 13). Jewish Women's Archive. Elijah came and stood before them. Her name means "ewe" in Hebrew. 31 December 1999. According to the first, Naphtalis name is an acrostic of all that happened between Rachel and her sister. In another tradition, Rachel envied Leahs good deeds. 33:12): Of Benjamin he said: Beloved of the Lord, he rests securely beside Him  as he rests between His shoulders (Tanhuma[ed. If she breaks a vessel within the house, whom shall she blame for this? Jacob offered to serve Laban for seven years, in exchange for the right to marry Rachel. According to this conception, Rachels son should from the outset have been the firstborn, but because God had compassion on the unloved Leah, He gave her the fruit of the womb and she bore Jacobs firstborn son. Jacob told her that he was the son of her aunt Rebekah. We can't believe God's love is free for us to receive. Agadah to Gen. xxx. He said to them: My masters, why do you disagree about me? But had she been obviously pregnant, she would not have been able to lie convincingly. I am from the descendants of Rachel(Gen. Rabbah71:9). Another tradition explains that most of those around [the table] were from Leah, and therefore Rachel was the main person [ikar] of the household(Gen. Rabbah71:2). The regimen of rituals, songs and textual readings performed in a specific order on the first two nights (in Israel, on the first night) of Passover. When Leah was brought under the wedding canopy, Rachel thought: Now my sister will be shamed [when Jacob discovers the fraud and does not marry her]. She gave the signs to Leah. Rachel is mentioned twice in the Old Testament beyond her story in Genesis. Gen. xxv. 1; Tan., Wayee, 19; Gen. R. lxxi. Benjamin was born on the road to Bethlehem, and therefore Rachel must have conceived him in Padan-aram, though she bore him in Canaan.  This traditional site lies four miles south of Jerusalem and one mile north of Bethlehem. According to a third tradition, Jacob wept for grief, for he realized that after he kissed Rachel people were whispering to one another: Why has this one come, to teach us this indecent behavior? The midrash comments that after the world had been struck by the Flood, the nations of the world hedged themselves against illicit sexual behavior [i.e., they accepted all manner of sexual prohibitions] (Gen. Rabbahloc. The midrash adds that Laban entered Rachels tent twice, because he knew that she was inclined to steal. She therefore insisted that Jacob pray to God for children, arguing that his father, Isaac, had done so(comp. InJer. In another midrashic understanding, Rachel alluded to the disgrace during the time of Jeroboam son of Nebat, who was a descendant of the tribe of Ephraim, and who engaged in idolatry and denigrated the prophet Ahijah of Shiloh(I Kings 1214); this disgrace was taken away when Jeroboam was put to death(II Chron. Jacob was 147 years old when he died, Gen 47:28. This filled Rachel with envy, and, having expressed her feelings to Jacob, she bade him take her handmaid Bilhah to wife in order that she might obtain a family through her (xxix. Some rabbinical writings suggest that Rachel and Leah were twins, and were fourteen years old at the time of Jacob's first meeting with Rachel. 15). Leah knew that twelve tribes would issue from Jacob. [Note Jacob was less than half this age when he met Rachel - this means that even compared to a modern man, he was in the prime of his life at that point.] God said to Jacob: Is this how one replies to embittered women? When Laban came to search her tent, Rachel asked him to excuse her for not rising, because she was menstruating. He is the author "Hope for Hurting Singles: A Christian Guide to Overcoming Life's Challenges.". Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree. So Rachel offered her handmaid, Bilhah, as her surrogate. 113:9states: He sets the childless woman among her household as a happy mother of children (Pesikta de-Rav Kahana[ed. When Rachel realized that she was barren, she emulated Sarah and gave Bilhah to Jacob, saying: "Just as this one was built by her rival wife, so, too, shall I be built by my rival wife" (Gen. Rabbah 71:30). When Jacob saw Rachel coming with the flock, he rolled the heavy stone from the mouth of the well by himself, a task that normally required more than three men; in the midrashic exposition, he rolled the stone as someone who removes a stopper from a flask(Gen. Rabbah70:12). His preference for her continued even after her death, and also influenced Jacobs attitude to her children. How old was Rachel when Jacob married her? When his time came to take leave of the world, he summoned his sons, but he did not choose Joseph instead of Reuben. Though she and Jacob were deeply in love, she did not conceive for many years. Harvard Theological Review113, no. And, indeed, she bore Jacob only a single additional son, Benjamin(JTBerakhot9:3, 14[ab]). Jacob kissed Rachel and fell in love with her instantly. In thismidrash, Rachel has the insight that the birth of children is a reward from God. Now that you have sinned, the birthright has been given to Joseph, the priesthood to Levi, and kingship to Judah (Gen. Rabbahloc. Jacob objecting on the ground that his father had one wife only, while he himself had two, and that though one of them was childless, he had children by the other, she urged him to follow Abraham's example, and to take her handmaid for a wife (Midr. 31:20Israel is called after her sons son: Truly, Ephraim is a dear son to Me(Ruth Rabbah7:11:13). From the Jewish Museum, New York, via Wikimedia Commons. Rachel asked Leah for a portion of them, and Leah protested that Rachel already had the favor of Jacob, and now was asking for a supply of the one thing that each woman supposed would make her fertile. Jacob gave Reuben the birthright, but it was postponed because of the sin of the latter, who was vindicated and regained his birthright in the time of Moses. According to the second opinion, however, the fact that she was the chief person of the household was a result of her barrenness and did not necessarily reflect Jacobs preference for her. The Rabbis did not view this exchange between the sisters favorably. Themidrashlists three reasons for Jacobs crying on this occasion. The most extreme description of Rachels act of self-sacrifice appears inLam. Answer Rachel is a major character in the early Old Testament; she was a daughter of Laban, sister of Leah, favored wife of Jacob, and mother of two of Jacob's children. Deut. This midrash bore a message of consolation to the Rabbis and the Jews of their time, since, for the Rabbis, Esau symbolized the Roman empire. The midrash views this confrontation between Jacob and Esau as symbolizing the future rivalries between the descendants of the two. Of the two women that Jacob married, Rachel was loved, and Leah unloved. 2 There he saw a well in the open country, with three flocks of sheep lying near it because the flocks were watered from that well. A compilation of the commentary and discussions of the, Matriarchs: A Liturgical and Theological Category, Modesty and Sexuality in Halakhic Literature, The Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women, Copyright 19982023, Jewish Women's Archive. Some criticized Leah, for by her actions she exhibited ingratitude to Rachel. Rachel and Leah both took Jacob's side. Another tradition suggests that when Rachel saw that she did not bear children, she feared lest Esau take her from Jacob and marry her [because of the prior agreement between the parents of Jacob and Esau that each would marry one of the sisters, while Jacob had married both]. While every effort has been made to follow citation style rules, there may be some discrepancies. Did he not gird his loins for her [since Isaac strove and prayed so that Rebekah would become pregnant]? Jacob replied: He did not have children, I have children [I already have four sons from Leah]. Rachel retorted: And did not your grandfather [Abraham] have children [Abraham had Ishmael], yet he girded his loins for Sarah[nonetheless, he made the effort of praying so that Sarah would become pregnant]? He told her: You can do as my grandmother [Sarah] did. She asked him: And what did she do? He replied: She brought a rival wife [Hagar] into her house. She responded: If this is the obstacle, [then](Gen. 30:3): Here is my maid Bilhah. Leah suddenly found herself sterile after the birth of Judah, and offered Jacob her own handmaid as well. 6:23)(Gen. Rabbah82:7). 8:6: Passion [kinah, literally, jealousy] is mighty as Sheolthis was Rachels jealousy of her sister (Tanhuma[ed. When Abraham was about 100 years old, he and his wife Sarah had a son who they named Isaac. When Laban overtook Jacob in the hill country of Gilead, he reproached him(Gen. 31:30): but why did you steal my idols?, to which Jacob replied (v. 32): But anyone with whom you find your gods shall not remain alive! Themidrashexplains that this statement by Jacob was as an error committed by a ruler [which is nevertheless implementedfollowingEccl. At Naphtalis birth, Rachel said(Gen. 30:8): A contest of God, a fateful contest I waged [naftuleiniftalti] with my sister; yes, and I have prevailed. Themidrashgives four different interpretations of this name. Jacob replied that he was her father's equal in trickery; and he agreed with Rachel upon certain signs which would enable him to recognize her. And this was not allI went under the bed where he lay with my sister: he would speak with her, and I responded every time, while she remained silent, so that he would not recognize her voice. Higger], chap. Zavada, Jack. 14-16, 19, 34-35). The Bible does not say when Rachel was born, nor how old she was when she married Jacob, nor how long she lived. Rachel had been given Bilhah as a handmaiden by her father Laban upon her marriage to Jacob. Jacob said to himself: When Eliezer, the servant of Abraham, went to fetchRebekah, he brought with him ten camels and all the bounty of his master(Gen. 24:10), while I have not a single nose-ring or band. The second reason for his weeping was his foreseeing that Rachel would not be buried together with him (Gen. Rabbahloc. We don't need to perform good works to earn it. She hid these teraphim in her saddle bag, and sat on them. 21:1517prescribes that If a man has two wives, one loved and the other unloved, and both  have borne him sons  he may not treat as first-born the son of the loved one in disregard of the son of the unloved one who is older. Agadat Bereshit li. When Jacob introduced himself to Rachel, he told her (v. 12) that he was her fathers kinsman, that he was Rebekahs son. In the midrashic expansion, Jacob told Rachel: if to deceivehe was her fathers kinsman; and if for righteousnesshe was Rebekahs son. xxxi. xxxi. 3). However, the text of Genesis 35:9-15 is a narrative that begins with a recapitulation of an earlier incident: the second appearance of God to Jacob and the renaming of Jacob to Israel. Gen. 35:18attests: But as she breathed her lastfor she was dyingshe named him Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin. The Rabbis explain that Rachel called the child the son of my suffering [in Aramaic], while his father gave him the Hebrew name Benjamin. The midrashic sources specify that Rachel died at the age of thirty-six (SederOlam Rabbah2) and list three women who had difficult childbirths and died: Rachel, the wife of Phinehas(I Sam. Her first son was Joseph, the future viceroy of Egypt. Her first meeting with Jacob occurred at a well near Haran, whither she had taken the flocks for water. TheA type of non-halakhic literary activitiy of the Rabbis for interpreting non-legal material according to special principles of interpretation (hermeneutical rules).midrash portrays Rachel as a prophetess, and her statements and the names she gave her sons contain allusions to the future. Gen. 29:18attests: Jacob loved Rachel. The midrashic exegesis of this verse characterizes this love of Jacobs with a reference toCant. cit.). Retrieved from https://www.learnreligions.com/rachel-favored-wife-of-jacob-701193. According to another exegetical approach, it is Rachels son who wins the birthright. God remembered Rachel on Rosh ha-Shanah (Ber. Jacob labored 14 years to win Rachel in marriage. In Sivan of 2251 AM (MayJune 1754 BC, or literally, "in the days of the wheat harvest"), Reuben went into the field and gathered mandrakes (Mandragora officinarum) for his mother Leah. 4:19), andMichal (daughter of Saul)(II Sam. In the midrashic account, many years later, when Josephs goblet was found in the sack of Benjamin(Gen. 44), the tribes stood about, beat Benjamins shoulders, and cried out: Oh thief, the son of a thief, you have shamed us! So after the ceremonial week of the wedding to Leah was over, Rachel married Jacob, becoming his second but most-loved wife. I informed Jacob, and I gave him a sign so that he could distinguish between me and my sister, so that my father would not be able to exchange me. The Rabbis speak of the passionate love for Rachel exhibited by Jacob, who already understood from their first encounter that she was his intended bride.  Jacob decided to leave quietly at night. By your life, your sons will stand before her son, and he will tell them(Gen. 50:19) Am I a substitute for God?(Gen. Rabbah71:7). Altogether, the four women bore 12 sons and one daughter, Dinah. The Rabbis learned from this that when God decrees greatness for a person, He decrees greatness for all his posterity to the end of time (BTMegillah13b). The uncertainty arises from the unknown time between Jacob leaving Paddan-aram and arriving in Ephrath which was presumably at least 2 years (with Bethel in between) and when Joseph was 17 years old. At last Rachel prayed to God, and God caused her to conceive. 1777 BC-1759 BC-1738 BC) was the second wife of Jacob and mother of Joseph and Benjamin. Rachel married Jacob after he was tricked into marrying her sister Leah. 10:12): Stand still, O sun, at Gibeon, O moon, in the Valley of Aijalon! was by merit of Rachels kindness (Tanhuma[ed. When Naphtali was born, Rachel felt that her competition with her sister had reached a point of equilibrium. It was through the merit of her discretion that Rachel became the ancestress of King Saul, who also was discreet (Meg. God took pity on Leah and allowed her to bear children, while Rachel was barren. Rachel said: If Leah were not righteous, would she have given birth?(Gen. Rabbah71:6). Before his death, Jacob praises Joseph for acting in this manner, when he says of his son(Gen. 49:22): Joseph is a wild ass, a wild ass by a spring [ayin, also meaning eye]I must reward you for that eye [for having concealed Rachel from Esaus eye](Gen. Rabbah78:10). She told Jacob that if he didn't "give" her children, she would die. 1-min read. Vilna] petihtah 24). Rachel and her sister Leah are mentioned as the two women who founded the house of Israel, Rachel, though younger, being mentioned first (Ruth iv. 3 (2020): 299-333. Bilhah, Rachel's servant and Jacob's concubine, bears two more sons, Dan and Naphtali. 10:5], and therefore Rachel died during childbirth(Gen. 35:19). The midrash connects these actions, both of which express Rachels compassionate nature. Then Jacob continued on his journey and came to the land of the eastern peoples. Genesis chapters 29-30 and 35 detail the births of Jacob's many children. The Rabbis seek to discover the reason why Rachels womb was opened. By clicking Accept All Cookies, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. Themidrashasserts that the salvation that occurred in his time in the war at Gilgal(Josh. Yet a third tradition explains that Rachel merited pregnancy because she brought her rival wife [Bilhah] into her house. Joshua son of Nun was an Ephraimite, one of Rachels descendants. Rachel immediately told her father Laban about the helpful stranger at the well. Gen. 30:23records that when Rachel gave birth to Joseph she explained: God has taken away [asaf] my disgrace. The Rabbis observe that until a woman gives birth, whatever blame [there is, within the house] is placed upon her. Today, we live in a performance-based society. "Meet Rachel - Favored Wife of Jacob." These two exegetical positions derive the word akarah from ikar. The first view maintains that even though Leah had children, Rachel continued to be the beloved and preferred wife, which was expressed in the running of the household. By ancient custom, Bilhah's children would be credited to Rachel. Thus, we see that the rivalry between the two sisters did not come to an end but even pertains to the identity of the herald of the future Redemption. 13b; B. 3; Pire R. El. Buber],Vayeshev19). Rachel said: Were not the vicissitudes that Jacob underwent for me? 6) interpreted by the Rabbis as indicating one of the characteristics of women. 40) are considered by the Rabbis to symbolize the four matriarchs, Rachel, who died the youngest, they consider symbolized by the willows of the brook, which fade sooner than any other plant (Lev. Rabbah[ed. Leah conceived a son that very evening, and bore him the next year. Genesis 29:18Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, "Ill work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel." In the narrative inGen. 31:19, when Jacob fled from Labans house, Rachel stole her fathers household idols. Bilhah bore Jacob two sons, Dan and Naphtali, the first by her own merit, and the second by the merit of Rachel (Gen. Rabbati,Vayeze, p. 121). The exegetes holding this view find Rachels words(Gen. 30:15) to be somewhat prophetic: I promise, he shall lie with you tonightwith you he will lie [in the grave], but with me he will not lie [in the grave]. After spending a month with his relatives he asked for her hand in marriage in return for working seven years for Laban the Aramean. This midrash compares the barrenness of the three Matriarchs and the conduct of the three Patriarchs, which intensifies the criticism of Jacob, who should have acted as his forefathers did, and pray on behalf of Rachel in accordance with her wishes. Who is Rachel in The Bible? God took pity on Leah and allowed her to bear children, while Rachel was barren. All the furrows that I plowed in your mother [i.e., acts of intercourse] should I not have done with Rachel? The reason for this was Josephs fear that Esau would see Rachel and desire her. In another tradition, God remembered Rachels silence when Leah was given to Jacob instead of her. 31:1416attests: A cry is heard in Ramahwailing, bitter weepingRachel weeping for her children, she refuses to be comforted for her children, who are gone. When Abraham was about 100 years old, he and his wife Sarah had a son who they named Isaac. Rachel feared that her deeds were not favorable in the eyes of God, which resulted in her barrenness. Rachel lost being buried next to Jacob because of her dealing with Leah, but she thereby merited having her son Joseph receive the birthright. Rabbah3:2). Later, in giving birth to Benjamin, Rachel died and was buried by Jacob near Bethlehem. Rachelis depicted in theTorah she-bi-khetav: Lit. Isaac, the father of Jacob, wanted his son to marry from among their own people, so he sent Jacob to Paddan-aram, to find a wife among the daughters of Laban, Jacob's uncle. Forced to serve Rachel's father, Laban, for seven years to win her, Jacob was tricked at the end of that time into marrying her sister, Leah. It seems to just throw out there that Rachel was 36 when she died; since Yaakov married her after 7 years working for Lavan, and he left Charan after another 7 years after they got married, plus 6 years after all but Binyamin were born, and Rachel died at the end of the two-year journey back to Yitzchak, they were married for 15 . Theodor-Albeck, MS. Vatican, 99:3, p. 1253]). After working for Laban another seven years, Jacob marries Rachel Jacob did so and completed her week, and he gave him his daughter Rachel as his wife. The Hebrew name of Rachel means ewe or beautiful. After he married Leah, Jacob held a banquet for seven days, and he added another seven days of feasting and rejoicing, and then married Rachel. Agadat Bereshit li. lxx. One tradition maintains that she became pregnant by merit of abundant prayers: by merit of her own prayer, by merit of her sisters prayer, by merit of Jacobs prayer, and by merit of the prayer of the handmaidens [Zilpah and Bilhah](Gen. Rabbah73:3). Themidrashrelates that Rachel was twenty-two years old when she was married to Jacob (SederOlam Rabbah2), and her barrenness lasted for fourteen years (Seder Eliyahu Rabbah18, p. 99). Her death occurred not far from Ephrath, and she was buried on the road leading thither, Jacob setting up a pillar on her grave to perpetuate her memory (xxxv. 21). xxxv. When Laban caught up with them, he searched for the idols, but Rachel had hidden the statues under her camel's saddle. Rebekah had sent him there to be safe from his angry twin brother, Esau . Kadari, Tamar. "order." Yet another tradition asserts that this was not stated to Rachels credit, and confirms the fact of her barrenness. After the week had passed, Jacob prepared for his wedding night. Rachel was one of Jacob's wives through .