Tuesday, March 18, 2008

More on Rachel

Hi Girls. I’m back after a busy day at the university. This is Easter week, so I’m tossing aside our “regular schedule” for now and we’ll probably only do two women this week. Rachel’s story has brought up so much that I want to linger here just a little longer.

Why does “popular opinion” focus on Rachel when Leah birthed the tribe of Judah? Well, to the Jewish people that is not a noteworthy distinction. And beautiful Rachel is their beloved. Lots of Jewish commentary and myth surrounds Rachel as a character of near mythic proportions. I read some in the book “Water from the Well” by Anne Roiphe – interesting, but its important to keep returning to the text to compare.

Reading an “aerial view” of Rachel’s story can raise more questions than it answers. So I wanted to go “down on the ground” and attempt to see things through Rachel’s eyes.

I am the “baby” of my family. That means I was never the first to do anything … everyone was always ahead of me in life. Likewise, Rachel had an older sister who was always the first. I can image Rachel in Leah’s hand-me-down clothes with the olive oil stain that won’t come out, roaming the fields, herding the sheep, and dreaming of a handsome man that would one day notice her - first. Enter Jacob at the well … finally, she would have her first. What’s more, even after he comes to her house and meets her older sister, Jacob still wants her – and her Daddy agrees. Life was looking very promising to Rachel. She would get married, get out from Leah’s shadow, and have her very own family – she wanted nothing more!

Only things didn’t go that way at all. Leah was the first to marry Jacob, the first to sleep with Jacob, and by a long shot the first to start a family with Jacob. That was her plan. He was supposed to be her husband, not Leah’s. And though Rachel was highly favored by Jacob, Rachel still felt she couldn’t get out from Leah’s shadow. It troubled her heart.

Her father was no source of comfort; he’s the one that had gotten her into this mess. Her husband was caught in the middle – he never intended to take Leah as a wife but was tricked. According to the text, Jacob demands of Laban the next morning: “What kind of trick is this?” “I worked seven years for Rachel. What do you mean by this trickery?” (Gen 29:25). Still, Jacob can’t cast Leah out if he and Rachel want any hope of being able to officially marry another seven years from now. Laban has the upper hand here.

While the world says, how fortunate Rachel to have a man that would work another seven years to get her, Rachel probably just felt disgraced. Her sister had her husband. And a week later, her father allowed Jacob to begin sleeping with Rachel, meaning she was now no longer a virgin but still not officially a wife either. To make matter worse, soon Leah was having Jacob’s baby. They were all trapped in this triangle.

So Rachel determined Jacob would make his home in her bed, not Leah’s. You need to sleep with me each night, not her because you’ve already given her children and you haven’t given me any yet, Rachel insisted. That seemed logical and was fine by Jacob as Rachel was his love and much prettier. Yet there had to be times each day that Jacob would interact with Leah and their sons. And surely, he felt something for Leah through all this. It burdened Rachel’s heart.

Rachel remained barren while growing more jealous of her sister, and more possessive of her husband. Rachel blamed Leah for not telling Jacob who she was before he slept with her that first time. Leah could have prevented this. She could’ve told Jacob, or dropped him a hint so he would find out the truth before anything was consummated. Rachel felt she couldn’t fully trust her sister. She refused to forgive her sister and her father for the wedding night trickery that had ruined her life plan.

Rachel couldn’t escape them, all living here at this ranch together. The whole situation drove her mad. She had so much frustration and resentment. The only time she could shake those feelings was when she was daydreaming. She’d think, If only I could have a baby … surely then I will feel better. I will raise my children differently … I would never do this to my child. Rachel - forced to share her husband with her sister - desperately wanted someone that was all hers.

Do you see the desperation that drove Rachel in her quest for a child? Do you see what drove her icy treatment of her sister? Do you see what drove her to take the idols from her father when she left? Can you find it in your heart to sympathize just a moment with Rachel?

I knew you could.

So why didn’t Rachel just trust God with her dream for children instead of giving Jacob her maid, trying to control things, and bartering her husband for mandrake roots? I wonder if she thought maybe God didn’t see her – maybe He didn’t notice her there in Leah’s shadow.

After all, God had let her husband marry Leah. God had given children to her husband and Leah. God has made a promise to Jacob to bring many blessed descendants through him, and Rachel didn’t appear to be any part of that. And she certainly didn’t feel blessed. She felt tricked. Tricked by her family. And she felt infertile, with no help from God. She believed in Jacob’s God and would pray to Him, but she wasn’t entirely sure that He saw her, or heard her, or remembered her, or cared.

Then God remembered Rachel’s plight, and answered her prayers by giving her a child. Rachel birthed Joseph and said, God has removed my shame. May the LORD give me yet another son (Gen. 30:22-24). Which He did.

One last thing … about those idols Rachel gets flack for taking. Remember this was BEFORE Moses and the ten commandments explained that God does not want us to have idols. The idols were small figurines passed down from family head to family head. Like rabbits' feet or four leaf clovers, they were meant as good luck - meaning wealth and children. Its entirely possible Rachel took them believing that they would help her have children. But notice that Joseph was already born at this point, so she already knew she was able to have children, even though she wasn’t doing much of it at the time.

Also, notice the conversation between Jacob, Rachel, and Leah in Genesis 31 right before she swipes those idols and they leave. Jacob is explaining to his wives how their father has swindled him many times. So Rachel may have taken the idols to punish her father and reward her husband. Possession of those idols could someday allow her, Jacob, and Leah to lay claim to her father’s estate, which she probably felt they deserved. Did she come clean about stealing them when challenged? No. Would you if your husband had just declared death for whoever took them?

What fascinates me is that a peace treaty was created when Laban did not find any stolen idols - what would’ve happened had he found them under Rachel’s skirt? And finally, as we’re all discovering, we sometimes sit on idols too!

I hope this helps shed some more light on "Rachel’s plight" that God remembered. Tomorrow, if time allows, I’ll post some about Leah before assigning our final woman of the week.


  1. So intriguing! I am really enjoying all of the insight. Thank you Rachel!

  2. I do empathize with Rachael but i also empathize with Lead- 2 sisters put in a unchosen situation which maybe they could have changed if they defied their father which was very unlikely during their time. You stated Rachel that your name sake was always under Leah's shadow becasue she was the youngest. I beleive Leah's was under Rachael's shadow as she was described as so beautiful and Leah by scripture and history seen as less beautiful becasue of her eyes. Think of today's society that does not still look beneath the outside appearance at the inner beauty one possess. I imagine that Leah was given less attention because she was not deemed the pretty one. I ask the question why wasn't she married being the oldest already why had not some man already asked for her hand was it because of Rachael. When given the opportunity to be put first I imagine Leah grasp at the opportunity to be put before her sister who got all the attention becasue of her beauty. There is likely cause for both sisters to be jealous of the other which contributed to how their lives played out.

  3. Thank you, Rachel, for expanding the study on Rachel. As I read and reread her story, my heart really went out to her. After all, Jacob did fall in love w/ HER and worked seven years to marry HER. Given her situation, I can understand why she felt the way she did --insecure, jealousy and resentment toward her sister. As for the idols...that was a great point you brought up. And poor Leah. I wouldn't want to be in her shoes, knowing that her husband loved her younger sister over her. This study has really helped me understand both sides a little better. Thanks for your insights.

  4. I don't post every day, but I'm reading with extreme interest and appreciation for all you're doing, Rachel!

  5. Wow! Thanks Rachel O. Like you said, Rachel always lived in Leahs shadow. She got the hand-me-downs. She had to work in the fields. Leah got her beloved Jacob first. Leah got to have the family first. She probably did feel that no one saw her and wouldn't it have been easy for her to believe that God didn't either? Sometimes I can totally relate. Thanks for the insight.
    I'm loving this!
    ~ Christi

  6. I, too, have always felt that Leah was the woman who lived in the shadow of her sister. Maybe she had no choice in the marriage. Whether she had a part in it or not, she lived her whole life trying to win a love that was never hers, no matter how many children she bore. I cannot imagine the pain she must've felt each time she saw Jacob look at Rachel.
    Both sisters certainly had their own "issues" to deal with, as do we all. But God also blessed each of them in His own way, as he does with us.

  7. i have recently been through a time where i became so angry by injustice done to my husband in the ministry. he was fired and later we found that he had the start of Alzheimer's disease at age 54.

    we are living with this. i had to get over bitterness that i didn't even see developing in me. God has used this time to teach me. i see so many of God's servants in the Bible go through real, hard times. we have their lives in front of us on the written page and yet, i still fall. why bitterness? why questioning God?

    we have our lessons in life to learn and to grow from. i wonder about the people in the Bible but i often think... wow ... what kind of mess would i have made if i was in their shoes?

    i love both of these woman and my heart goes out to them. i read Liz Curtis Higg's historical novels on rachel and leah and you can't help but love the women. sisters who are thrown into such a hard time.

    God's timing ... when will i learn that lesson?

    thank you rachel olsen for the work you are putting into getting us into God's word.

  8. this is fascinating.we go thro this all the time.it makes me see that its not always Gods doing when things are diff in our lives but our decisions dictate the results.wisdom lies on recognition and appreciation of Gods part in all we do and at what point we invite him to be part of the equation.

  9. I missed the last few days so just got caught up on Rachel and wow... not only is this a sweet love story but it as so many lessons that can be applied to our lives. I love the personal touch you put on the story Rachel; putting yourself in her shoes. Also, thanks for pointing out how we all can be 'sitting on idols' i didn't get that out of the story but it is oh so true. Your study is great! I'm incredibly thankful for your time and thoughts

  10. Great themes,remarkable insights from you Rachel Olsen and sisters all over the world!

    I thank God for the opportunity to be part of this bible study. It spurs my lazy butt and gets me off all those idols I sit on [like Rachel did] that make me relegate God and His word.

    May Jesus' resurrection power reign
    supreme in our lives this season and always.

    Vickie..... Lagos, Nigeria

  11. Thanks, Rachel, for your added in-depth comments.
    It’s really sad how sisters growing up together in the same family and then thrown into marriages with the same man and continuing with all their issues to create another family full of dissension, resentment, deceit, jealousy, bitterness. It’s sad, too, to think that there didn’t seem to be any resolution for them or reconciliation, and that carried into their own children’s behaviour and choices.
    I wonder if God didn’t take beautiful, tragic Rachel during childbirth of her last son Benjamin home to Him to spare her more pain in seeing the treatment of her sons Joseph and Benjamin. Who did care for and raise her sons—Joseph and the last-born baby son Benjamin? Was it Jacob himself who prevailed to protect and provide special blessings on them? It seems so.
    Sadly, it seems that the extensive family of Jacob calmed a bit with the absence of Rachel and the mellowing of Jacob, sorrowing over the loss of his beloved Rachel. However, I wonder how fulfilled each of the other wives, especially Leah, felt anyway.
    These women needed to remain faithful to the Lord God, patient and obedient, and yet they could not grasp the importance of their roles in producing all these sons—the founders of the 12 tribes of the nation Israel.
    That’s a challenge to each of us women—married or not, childless or not—are we ready to “take up the cross of Jesus” handed to each of us by a loving God this Easter?

  12. I thank God for the opportunity to be part of this bible study. I'm learning so much from all of the sisters insight as well from the passages.
    I do to feel sorry for Rachel, it shows us to wait on God's timing like the other women we have been studing about. I just pray that we all can learn to wait on the Lord. I will be praying for all of you sisters in the Lord. Thank so much from Virginia

  13. This is a very interesting story. I am glad that I am able to participate. These stories have already changed my thoughts and views of our Lord!

  14. Thanks for the wonderful insight on Rachel. My heart certainly does go out to her. Rachel's story makes me thankful, though, that God still hears and blesses us despite our sin. I do wonder how her life would've been different had she just given complete control over to the Lord. It sure does make me reevaluate my life to see where I'm hanging onto control when I should be letting God work.

  15. ...something interesting that happened in our lives that I'd like to share that this study of Rachel has brought to mind

    When my daughter, Rachael, was 2 she spoke of her guardian angel that visited her every night after we'd all gone to bed. She could describe her in detail - when we asked if her guardian angel had a name, she responded without hesitation - Leah

  16. At first when I read your perception of Rachel and Leah, about Rachel being under Leah's shadow all her growing up years, I doubted that it could have gone that way and agreed with the "a god chaser" comment that Leah was probably under Rachel's shadow because Rachel was so beautiful. Then I thought about the fruit of the children that they had. I have'nt read that account in a long time so I'm unsure of all the details, but it seems that Rachel's son Joseph (even though he was spoiled) was the thoughtful one, and wiser than his brothers. His brothers were very jealous of him and did much to hurt him including selling him as a slave. He did not become bitter at his brothers for what they did to him. He did not lose faith in all his trials, but kept looking to God for answers. He went from being in prison to second in command in Egypt for His faithfulness to God. I wonder how much Joseph's mother Rachel influenced Joseph's thinking? Did she teach him daily about God? Did she teach him wisdom from the lessons she learned in life? How about Leah's sons. Most of them were jealous, and allowed that jealousy to turn to hatred and possible murder of Joseph. Did they get that from their mom Leah?
    Connie in Canada.

  17. This lesson has really made me think. I can see some of me in both of the sisters. I am the oldest girl in my family but the middle child so I have always lived in the shadow of my older brothers and then looked over by everyone because of my younger brother and sister. But thank God through these lessons I am reminded that God remembers me even when it seems that others forget.

  18. The family "interaction" has not much changed today has it? As the oldest of 3 daughters--I have heard my sisters cry that they are always last. As the mother of 3 boys I hear the same cry from my youngest 2 sons also.

    Thanks you Rachel for "leading us" in this study. I have studied this story before but there is ALWAYS more to learn about these woman.

  19. I am going to make a point to call or talk to my sisters and brothers this week!

  20. Wow! Thanks for the insight Rachel O. That really helps lay down perspective. We often do forget about poor Leah. I will definitely be taking pity on them both now. I wonder what is the deal with Laben? He seemed like a pretty good guy when Isaac's servant came for his sister years ago.

  21. I did it again. Rachel, In life God brings people your way to speak directly or bring to surface something in you and as I am reading through this Chapters I am so greatfull I found your Blog.
    This week's reading is hitting home is so many ways for me. I am struggling right now with the fact that God's timing is the best as I wait on Him. It just seems so hard and easy at the same time.
    for all who are taking this journey of reading God's Wonderful Women I pray Patience and true understanding of God's ways and timing in our lives. AMEN

  22. Rachel O, thank you for your insights on Rachel, which was my perception of the situation. I too, am the youngest of the girls in a family of 7 (i'm #6 and the 7th is a boy). Yes, it is true of the wearing of old clothes and i was not first in anything but the "baby"... as of today (I'm going to be 42) my mom calls me "princess" and honestly, I TOTALLY DISLIKE IT!!

    So, once again, thank you for sharing your insights... it makes understanding scriptures better... it also teaches us not to judge simply by what we read, but to get into the lives of the individuals and culter of that time.

    God bless,
    from NYC

  23. It seems unnatural to think of a woman forcing her servant to sleep with her husband and conceive his child and a man marrying 2 sisters but in some countries women are still sold into sexual slavery and I saw a mormon on TV a couple of months ago with his 4 wives and two were sisters. We think this is all so long ago but isn't it sad how much has changed and much has stayed the same? Are we supposed to even ask, "What was God's plan in all this?" "How did He mean it to happen?" "He sees and knows all, and He has total control so why was there so much pain in all of this?"

  24. Wow, I work with woman and can see that interfering leads us to places we may not have planned to go or things happen they we do not want to happen. It is also clear that having to share a husband is an impossible place to be. God always comes through inspite of what we do to edit what he plans for us. Thank goodness for that. Alberta Canada

  25. Thank you for helping to put these stories into a perspective that I can really relate to. Looking through the "eyes" of each of the women really takes these lessons to a new level for me.

    Karen... from Ohio

  26. Man has always looked at the outside--in the Bible, or just talking w/ someone, if a person is pretty, beautiful, gorgeous, whatever, it is mentioned. I'm certainly one who comments on beauty. That's why Rachel is remembered more than Leah, I think. Look at Marilyn Monroe. Would she have been so well remembered if she were just an average-looking actress? I don't think so.

    I really prayed yesterday, after reading Miss Sandy's comment about what idols we're hiding, for God to reveal to me what I'm "sitting on" so I can do away with it. That insight was a real eye-opener for me.

    Thanks so much Rachel for what you're doing w/ this Bible study. I went so far as to put a live feed bookmark on my toolbar, I love this so much!

    I'm in northeastern North Carolina!


  27. I have to comment on some comments...my mouth runneth over today! :)

    diana's comment sent chills down my spine!

    One of the anonymous comments mentioned the jealousy Leah's boys had towards Joseph, and did they get these feelings from their mother. I believe they did. My SIL is very jealous of my husband (I don't know why--she is the baby of the family, and still is treated as such). These feelings have trickled down into her children. When they were younger, I would hear them talking to my oldest daughter, and the venom that was in some of those words were some that I know they got from their mother.

    Here's something from the old "Children Learn What They Live" poem (© 1972 by Dorothy Law Nolte)

    If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.

    Just my two cents worth...


  28. I find it a real eye opener as we study each of these women, how much I am like them. My mind says 'oh I would never do that' but I'm pretty sure my flesh would do otherwise. My heart goes out to each of the women we have studied so far. Life as a woman can be hard and the choices we make, if not thought through carfully through God's eyes, can make things even harder. The comforting fact though is that while these women may not have always made the wisest choices, God continued to remain loyal and bless them. That gives me hope that even through my bad choices He will bless me as well.

    "Em" - Wisconsin

  29. From what I have read, the original plan was for both Esau and Jacob to father the 12 tribes. Leah as to marry Esau and Jacob to marry Rachel (the reason Jacob was so smitten with her - she was made for him). Esau wanted the property and money from being the first born, but did not want the responsibility of being part of Gods master plan to build the nation.

    The reason for Leah being weepy was due to the fact that she knew that Esau was not wanting to father the tribes. She wanted to be part of Gods plan. This could be the reason Leah is part of Jesus lineage rather than Rachel.

    I think Jacob stayed with Leah rather than divorcing her was due to the fact that he knew she was designed to have part of God's plan. She also most likely she reminded him of his deceit to get his position in his family.

    Rachel went along with the mix up at the wedding because she loved her sister and wanting her to be part of Gods plan to build the nation. I think she did feel left out when she wasn't able to have kids.

    With regards to the handmaidens helping out with having kids - if they were good and faithful servants, they would have done anything to please their master. They did not have the modern medical science we have these days. Today, we are able to take the sperm and egg and implant them into someone else, for them to carry the child for the people unable to have kids. This kind of sounds like the same thing - only done without the new tools.

    I do like the thought of Rachel dying before she her beloved son came up missing - that would have been a total heart break after taking so long to finally have him.

    God has a plan. He will see His plan happen - with or without us. We might monkey up the plans with our own agenda, but God works around (or with) our imperfections. How cool is that!

    I think life would be better for us if we knew how and when to wait for Gods plan.

    It is trickier these days - we have the Bible to show us history and how we should handle our lives - and God speaks to us through the Bible and others. Back then, they did not have a manual for life (Bible) but they were able to speak directly with God and could hear Him when He spoke to them.

    All we can do is keep reading and praying. God is great and he loves us - even when we redirect His plns.

  30. Thank you Rachel for all the time you have spent on this. Your thoughts and insights are very thought provoking and enlighting. I read all three books of Liz Curtis Higgs that deal with the story of Leah and Rachel and Jacob. They helped to put flesh on them for me, even though they are set in the seventeenth century. I highly recommend them for reading. Blessings on you and all you do this week.

  31. Wow, I really do empathize for Rachel. I understand how she feels to be in the shadow of someone else. Not feeling loved, even though it's so obvious to us how much Jacob loved her. Yet she still needed to be reassured of that love. I completely understand. I to feel unloved. Like the forgotten one, and get jealous at times I shouldn't. I see how the enemy uses my insecurities to block my view from seeing God's love. Something that only prayer will change.

  32. Your perspective on Rachel brings a lot more clarity to her actions. It helps to put yourself in her place and see how she would feel. I feel sorry for both sisters. Thanks for the additional insight.

  33. So powerful the added insight! Thanks Rachel! This study is really helping me to understand the deeper meaning to scripture, our Pastor says you can't just read the Bible you have to READ the Bible! I am blown away right now at all the aspect of this scripture that I never saw before this Bible study. I have a lot to meditate on tonight.
    Ingyr, Columbus, OH

  34. I really enjoy reading all of the comments. I feel for Rachel. She should have been able to have a husband to herself and enjoyed children that were just theirs together. Thanks for your insight Rachel.

  35. Wow...great to expand the insight and roots to Rachel, her actions, and possible reasoning.

    When I read Rachel O's comments, her one statement struck a chord with me. In referencing Rachel's desires for children she thought "If only I could have a baby..." How often do we (or rather I) say if only I could have...a restored marriage, a physical healing, etc. If only I could, then I would be set and happy and do things differently. Wow...

    Also, Rachel O. poses why didn't Rachel trust God with her dreams...my thoughts as I attempted to answer that question myself was because her heart was broken, she was distressed, envious, desperate, longing...all those humanly emotional feelings that get us into BIG trouble.

    Hey, one thing I just pondered as I kept referencing Rachel O versus Rachel (in the Bible)...HOW COME THERE ARE NO LAST NAMES FOR PEOPLE IN THE BIBLE? Aren't there two Pauls (the one that was Saul and then another one), there were two Lazarus, two Simons. ANY BODY HAVE A GUESS ON THAT????

  36. I am really enjoying hearing all the different takes on these two sisters. As I read through all of these comments there is another thought that comes to my mind...Isn't this really the relationship that so many of us have with other women. Yes, these are two sisters, but they are also a picture of us as women. The way that they treat eachother and act toward one another is really how many of us as women treat either our own sisters or female friends. Maybe we could get insight from these two women as to what happens when we are looking at what the other one has and wanting it to be ours. The enemy is so good at causing jealousy and tensions between women. God has made us relational as women and yet we have such a hard time being in relationships with one another. What can we learn from Rachel to help us with our own female relationships?

  37. I do sympathize for Rachel. To be in love with a man and then on your wedding night your father switches you and your older sister, that has to be devastating. Then she is the first to give birth of his children and you are barren. It just seems like she is unable to "catch a break." I wonder how her father went about switching Leah and Rachel the night of the wedding. I am an only child, so do not understand fully the "sibling rivilary" notion. I know it exists, because I have seen my friends go through it. I think that when Rachel removed the idols, I think it was both to help herself, Leah, and Jacob. I did not understand this fully until after the deeper looks at Rachel.

    When looking at Rachel, I could not help but think "where is Leah?" I think that though Rachel was the younger sister and grew up in Leah's shadow, I feel that Leah was in the shadow of Rachel in Jacob's eyes. I feel certain that Jacob cared for Leah, because they were married and did have kids...how could he not have some feelings for her? I just don't think that the feelings he help for Leah were any match for those feelings he had for Rachel. How sad...to be married to a man that loves someone else so much...and that person being your very own sister.

    I found it VERY interesting that Leah gave birth to the 12 tribes, even though Rachel was Jacob's preferred. Seems like the "under dog" (for lack of better words) played a bigger role in the bigger picture. (Yes, I'm a history buff...lol.)

    I will be going to Colorado tomorrow until Sunday. So, I will get back on here Monday.

    Thank you ladies for this...I am gaining soooo much from this study and can't tell you how much I enjoy it. Have a great weekend!

    Melissa (Louisiana)

  38. Someone the other day asked about the men having so many wives and sleeping with the handmaidens...I think this was culturally acceptable (and even normal) but was that really God's plan? I think if God intended men to have more than one wife, he would've given Adam more than one helpmate. When I asked my husband about this, he laughed and said... maybe one (wife) was enough trouble for Adam! So... I like to think the multiple wife thing is not God's will but yet another example of how God can use us no matter what we do!

    To my dear sister whose husband was "fired from ministry". My husband and I just experienced something like that and I just want to encourage you to please, please don't let your heart get bitter! I know it is hard to not be angry (I was soooo incredibly angry and hurt from our situation), but don't get bitter. Bitterness robs you of the Joy the Lord has planned for you. You may not be able to see it now, but God will work this all for HIS good and you will be blessed. Coming out of this "season" of our lives, I have learned to "Wait Upon the Lord" and stake claim to his promises like never before! Waiting is not easy but as the song mentioned the other day... "Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord!" Amen!!!

  39. Julie, SweaatPea, and Plant Lady

    Thank you so much for your comments. Julie your comment that family support has always been a model in the bible really opened my eyes to something I was missing.
    I sense a true kinship with each of you and feel a reassurance that the Lord will help. I am learning that the Lord helps in many different ways some of which we never thought of.

    Rachel and Leah both had to learn to trust the Lord. There experiences in life go way beyond my trouble. I am the older sister in a family with three brothers. My mother always favored the boys but she loved and taught us girls as well. My sister is still jealous today of the attention paid to each of us. She has become a Mormom which breaks my heart. Prayer is the only answer in all of this. I think I will go pray now.


  40. Thanks Rachel, you gave another point of revelation on how Rachel must have felt, this study helps us to have open minds and spend time in prayer for the decisions we sometimes make. I am learning more each day on how to wait on God. We have to get to a point where we don't mind waiting, because God gets in a hurry for no one.

  41. “Then God remembered Rachel’s plight,..."

    Many times someone will say, "God forgets our sins." God does not forget - He chooses to remember no more. There is a big difference!

    Forgetting is an involuntary action. We didn't mean to forget, it just happened. (And seems to happen more as I get older!) Most of the time though, we never forget an offense done to us, right??

    Choosing to remember no more is a voluntary action. We have made a conscience decision not to remember the offense. Whenever it pops to mind, I send it on its upward way in prayer.

    God did not forget your sins - He chooses to remember no more. I love how Corrie Ten Boom once wrote, "God cast our sins far out into the sea... and then put up a 'NO FISHING' sign." We need to remember (make a conscience decision) to trust God with all of our past, present, and future.

    This lesson has definitely been an affirmation of my/our need to wait on God.


  43. I have enjoyed all this discussion on these 2 ladies. It has helped me to continue to learn more about how history repeating itself has been happening for along long time. It doesn't make me more concerned about my 2 girls future...one is 17 & the other is 22. Encourages me to continue to pray for guidance and direction for them daily. Loving the lessons I'm learning here. JT in Southern IL

  44. Correction...It DOES make me more concerned about my girls.


  45. Hey Rachel... I guess I am the only person yesterday who actually empathized with her on yesterday. I really think it's more than beauty why the Jewish faith epitomize her... I think it allows us to see a woman of God "transparently" which we don't see that much anymore..... Can't wait to read tomorrow...

  46. Good Afternoon from rainy and last Saturday, tornado filled Atlanta!
    Anyway..before I share with everyone what happened I want to thank Sweetpea for her words about my post. I see your pain, for I too want through such a terrible time in my past and I know what you're going through. Feel free to share with me anytime. I have a blog also it is donnamcguinness.blog.com, I have to thank Rachel for giving me the courage to post my feelings about the Lord, family, and me. It's such a great way to have us all share as sisters in the Lord, and as I noticed when I read everyones posting we are all going through the same things in more ways than another. Also to Dana, I want to encourage you also. Please keep sharing with me too.

    Yesterday after sharing my testimony on this Bible Study I found out at work that I didn't get the promotion that I thought was promised. As usual I cried out to the Lord and couldn't understand why. Did I try and open "windows" as Rachel did? Why is everything lately always falling apart? My mom called me from NJ and God's timing is always perfect. She went on to say that I have to believe that I am a child of God and when we try to make things happen as Rachel did, they will not happen. She also went on to say that I have always felt a sense of rejection from people. My ex husband, my father, and I also felt rejection from God.

    Can you see the pattern here? Rachel too felt rejection from her husband, her father and God. I relate to her so much that is why I can sympathize and also empathize with her. When I was growing up my sister always got what she wanted before me and I felt, as the older one, that I should be having the same. What I didn't see was that she was serving God the way I should of been. I felt like I was actually under her shadow, and later in life, she felt the opposite! Why is it that God leads us to Bible Studies like this or mentors in our lives, because He knows our sorrow in life, He knows what we need and when we need it. The Lord has never left me, and I asked His forgiveness for even believing the lies of the enemy. I also believe that He will direct my job the way it should be and in His timing. I don't want to be continually "opening" windows that aren't there anymore and I don't want to step out of His favor and constantly do it MY way. There is no MY way it is only HIS way. Let us all learn lessons from these woman from the Old. The Lord put them in the word for reasons, and I truly believe it now more than ever.
    God Bless all of you,

    p.s. please go to my blog.. because I am making a beautiful dress for Easter and I'm showing the pattern..I'm so excited :)

  47. I enjoyed reading your insights, you made the story come alive!

  48. Thank you for the insight on Rachel's life.

  49. Thank you for presenting this in a way that we can "feel" what these characters of so long ago could be feeling. You have brought this story "to life" for me. I enjoy reading your insights.

  50. Thank you, Rachael, for your extra
    comments on this confusing saga! Thank you for taking your time to lead this study for us!

  51. Thanks for all your insight, Sisters. I am learning so much from all of you. I'm looking forward to more great discussion.

  52. Rachel O. I can find it in my heart to symphatize with Rachel,(of the Bible), I had to smile when you wrote, "I knew you could".
    I come from a family of five girls, no boys, (except Daddy), I was in the middle, I know all about wearing hand-me-down clothes and sibling rivalry, (we still have it today and we're all grown women).hahaha
    A couple of thoughts...all of these stories are given to show us we all need a Saviour. As we continue to study the women of the Bible we will see more and more imperfect people in the bloodline leading to Jesus Christ our Lord, and how God uses all of them to further His plan.

    As for Judah convincing his brothers to sell Joseph to the Ishmaelites, he did that to save Josephs life, the others wanted to leave him in the well to die. Jacob gives Judah a blessing in Genesis 49:8-12, Judah's name means "Praise". King David's bloodline is linked to Judah, and so is Joseph's the step-father of Jesus.

    Even though Esau and Jacob made up, Esau never cared for the spiritual things of God, in Obadiah 1:18 "The house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame,but the house of Esau will be as stubble, and they will set them on fire and consume them. So that there will be no survivor of the house of Esau; for the Lord hath spoken". Jacob was always God's choice to carry on the bloodline, he was more spiritual. "Jacob have I loved, Esau have I hated", Romans 9:13. If it is true that Leah was originally supposed to marry Esau, I wouldn't have wanted to marry him either.

    It is awesome to see how God works in all of our lives and to think how He could bring us all together by e-mail. Thank you, Rachel.

    God Bless You All,

  53. Debbie in Goose Creek,SCMarch 19, 2008

    Thanks, Rachel. There is always more than one way to look at a situation. We should quit being so critical in our lives...until we've walked in another's shoes, right?

  54. More verses to ponder on Jacob and Esau...Malachi 1:2-3 "I have loved you, saith the Lord. Yet ye say, wherein have thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob's brother? saith the Lord; yet I loved Jacob. And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness".
    God Bless, Josie

  55. Thanks Rachel! I love the fact that we are only in the 1st book of the Bible and we can already see stories of women who have made huge mistakes, lived selfishly and tried to race before God...so much better than stories of perfection! God knows us so well to have included these stories that we can learn from and see that in the end it is God and his love and grace that saves us. What an awesome God. I pray that we will all be able to really hear His voice over the top of our own desires!!!

  56. I want to respond "anonymous" about Esau's role. Esau was not destined to be a part of building the 12 tibes of Isreal. The Bible readings are clear that Esau would be subserviant to Jacob. Esau does marry into the Ishmeal side of the family, and Ishmeal also fathered 12 tribes, fulfilling part of the covenant with Abraham that his decendants would be numerous and that he would be "the father of many nations."

    I also agree with "a god chaser" that I always felt Leah was in some way set aside and may have been in Rachaels' shadow. I pondered that yesterday in my posting, so I am looking forward to the posting on Leah tomorrow. I think the posting on Rachael today did shed a lot of light on how she may have felt and certainly explained the idols better to me. Thank you again.

    God's Blessing to all of you who are participating in this study!

  57. This study is GREAT!. I needed to grow more as a Christian and you are helping me so much with all of this. I feel so full and over flowing with all of these comments. I've been printing off some of this and sharing these with my "Circle of Friends".
    Thank you again for your love for God and His word. Thank you for sharing your heart Rachel.
    As I said before my cup runs over and my saucer is full...
    from:central Louisiana

  58. Wow. I'm so glad that I decided to follow this study. Rachel, you have such great insight. You just make it seem so simple. Yet, I feel like, why didn't I think of that.

  59. Crissi in WashingtonMarch 19, 2008

    Thank you for your insight Rachel. Considering Rachel's feelings helps shed light on some things. I'm interested in learning more about Leah.

  60. Thanks, Rachel. I really liked the personal in-her-shoes look. Some of those things I didn't even think about before. This story just reaffirms how faithful and loving our God really is; He understands ALL of our (women) emotional rollercoaters and the different ways we think about and solve things compared to the way men see things and solve them. He will relate and remember us and do for us in His timing, which is perfect.
    --from Wisconsin

  61. Hey Sweatpea,
    to answer your question about names of people in the bible. Most common people were known by what tribe they belonged to and where they lived. Here's an example, Jesus' earthly father, Joseph would be known as Joseph bar David of Bethlehem. Joseph was from the tribe of David and was born in Bethlehem. Hope that helps. Those who were not commoners, meaning kings and magistrates, were referred to by title and areas of authority. Don't mix up the Jews and Gentiles though. These name rules only apply to Jews.

    Now my comment. Thanks Rachel O for sharing things from Rachel's perspective. It seems that Jacob, Rachel and Leah were all trapped in this marriage. I can identify with Rachel as the youngest of 5 in my family and wearing handmedown clothes, dealing with sibling rivalry and feeling invisible.

    Now I understand more about the dynamics between Joseph and his brothers. Why Joseph was an arrogant little snot who tattled on his brothers when he was young, and declared he would rule them one day. I wonder how much of the conflict between brothers was due to Leah's influence on her sons.Also, Jacob's favoring of Joseph and Joseph growing up without his mother didn't make things any easier.

  62. This study has opened my eyes to what I read in the Bible. I was telling my husband what Rachel O. said about Rachel sleeping with Jacob a week after Leah became his wife. I went to the Bible and read the scriptures to him. He did not remember reading that. As I read through several chapters it was like reading a novel, everything seemed to take on meaning and the good part was that my husband sat and listened as I read. We will have been married 46yrs in Sept. and have never shared the Bible together. God has answered my prayers within the last month as we have shared another book and prayed together. So ladies don't ever give up GOD DOES ANSWER OUR PRAYERS in His own timing. Why this long I don't know but I praise God for it.

    I am an only child who was loved by my mother to the extent she held on to me even after I was married. My father never showed me any love except as a baby I am told. There was resentment there on my part because of some of the things both my parents did, but God helped me to forgive them before they left this world and He showed me 3 times that my father had accepted Jesus as His Saviour.
    I guess there are things in a lot of people's lifes, like Rachel and Leah that is hard to understand but when we give God full control then He can work things for our good.

    I have enjoyed reading all the comments and especially the coments of Rachel O. You put things in a better light and helped me to understand the story of Leah and Rachel and how there are others today who are holding grudges toward each other. I have 3 cousins who are sisters and there is a division between 2 of them and their older sister. Two of the sisters have shared with me. I believe they need to read the story of Leah and Rachel.

    May God bless all of you and I hope you all have a great Holiday celebrating the Resurrection of our Lord who will one day come back to take us to be with Him, the Father and the Holy Spirit. Things happen in our lives that we don't understand but one day we will know why we had to go through so many struggles. I look forward to that day.

  63. Thank you so much for the extra notes. I have to admit having read the Bible passages and yesterdays notes I really didn't know what to think of Rachels story. But todays notes really showed me the heartache of living in her sisters shadow. And of feeling betrayed by her father. I have been so blessed that my father though not a Christian has always made me feel so special and as the eldest of 5 children I wonder if my siblings felt they were in my shadow or that our parents favoured me in any way. I can also understand the actions of Rachels father. It must have broken his heart to see his older daughter overlooked and he did what he could to make her happy. As parents we don't want our children to be slighted do we? Oh there's so much to take from this study..
    Thank you again Rachel and God Bless you and all the ladies reading this.
    Sandra - England

  64. thank you Rachel for this study. there is so much to digest.
    Donna: I am beginning to see a pattern to my response to certain people or circumstances is rooted in fear of rejection, anticipation of rejection, perception of rejection...
    These women of the Bible are fascinating because like us they are not one dimensional...as we are known to each other the deeper and richer parts of our character are revealed - it is amazing to know that when we surrender it all to God that He makes something beautiful out of lives...and yet I am so slow to do this.
    I am so grateful that we can all do this study together.
    Be Blessed
    Debrah - Shirley New York

  65. It is a hectic week but trying to keep up.

    Thanks Rachel for taking the time.

    Rachael sure is an interesting woman of the Bible.

  66. I'm loving this study. Thank you Rachel O and all you dear sisters for sharing your insight and your hearts. I'm learning so much - things I never saw before. As I share with my husband we are gaining so much understanding together. We have gone through some terrible times. This study on Rachel has been showing us that our problems are simply what we can see from where we stand - God's plans go far beyond us and our childrens children. We are not victims, but simply vessels of God's grace and faithfulness.
    Jo Beth, Illinois

  67. I am caught up again. Thank you so
    much for this. It is wonderful to
    be learning so much. Rachel, you are a shining light, giving me this, just when I was at a point of needing it so much.

  68. I have enjoyed her more from Rachel's side of things. I can identify with Rachel feeling like she was in Leah's shadow all the time. I have 3 sisters, 2 older and 1 younger. So I am the 2nd middle child. I definently suffer from the middle child syndrome but only worse because I am the 2nd one. HAHAHA!! I was always being compared to my oldest sister because we look, sound, and sometimes act alike. I had a hard time being my own person because I thought I was suppose to be like her. It took my husband (before we were married) to finally convince me that I was different and I could just be me and quit trying to be like her. In this day and age, we are lucking because we do not have to compete with other wives being married to "our man." We have many chances to have one on one "pillow talk" (as I like to call it) with our husband. We get the honor of spending time with our husband every night. I hate that Rachel never really got that time. Even when she was with him she always worried about Leah. If I was in the same situation, I probably would be worring about Leah, too. Women are just like that. When my husband and I first started dating, I was driving my self crazy thinking about his ex-girlfriend, who just happened to sit right behind us in one of our college class. Finally, after loosing it one night, I was crying and he hugged me and told me that I was the one he chose. Rachel never really could feel like the only one with Jacob. Because he did choose her but he also has 3 other women. I think back on the stupid time in my life and think that is like God with us. We finally hit rock bottom and God picks us up, hugs us, and says "I chose you, so stop worrying." Isn't God wonderfully!!! I don't know where all this ramble about the past came from but that is just what I thought about when I think of the love triangle between Rachel, Jacob, and Leah.

  69. Alicee ~ Praise the Lord! Our Lord does answer prayers!

  70. Hello. I have finally found a way to post. I have been follwing the readings, I really enjoy them and all your comments and insight. I have to admit I can identify with most of the women. I were Rachel I would have many difficulties with Leah, Labon. I can't wait to find out what the next reading will be.


  71. Your insights are amazing and eye-opening. How many times do we feel that God has turned His head on us and it becomes 'necessary' to take matters into our own hands? This lesson has helped me see that God never 'turns His head' on us and that He always has our best interests at heart. We have to trust Him and be patient. Thanks, Rachel!

  72. Josie to expand on what you said: I went and looked up Malachi 1:2-3 and Romans 9:13 in my MacArthur Study Bible: God chose Jacob and his offspring unconditionally, and completely apart from any consideration of human merit, God elected Jacob and his descendants to become His heirs of promise. God loves his people not because He afflicted them, but rather He loves them because he elected them. This speaks of love as
    "choosing for intimate fellowship" and hate as "not choosing for intimate fellowship" in the realm of redemption. God chose one for divine blessing and protection, and the other he left to divine judgement. OUCH!

  73. I feel for Rachel less than I do for Leah .... a whole lot less,...y? OK! ...here goes!!
    Rachel is selfish, yeah you are the 2nd in everything but you know that you are who everyone wants because you are sooo gorgeous! She is possibly the favourite as well as a mite spoilt by her father. The only thing stopping her from acheiving her goals is her ugly older sister.
    I feel for Leah. She probably would never have married if her father had not tricked Jacob to marry her. If Rachel wasnt so self-centered she would recognise it too!
    I think Leah was more in the shadow of Rachel and thats why God allowed her to be fruitful, can you imagine marrying someone who loves your sister and sleeps with you out of a sense of duty? Yuck!Wouldnt you wonder what he was thinking while you are both making love? is he seeing you or your sister? Note that through all of this we havent heard much complaint from Leah, but the rivalery between the sisters is alive and roaring while Jacob is sleeping with 4 women and having a whale of a time! He doesnt seem to get involved in the powerplay except for being Rachel's pawn. Jacob is controlled through his love for Rachel, what she says, he does! A most pitiful state of affairs!
    Claudette, Kingston Jamaica

  74. I wonder sometimes if the lesson we should learn from these two sisters is more along the lines of "a bad situation is sprung upon two 'innocent' people, neither of which begins in the wrong, and how they ultimently handle themselves."

    In this case, in the beginning, everything seems fine between the two siblings. It doesn't mention any resentment or any dislike between the two to start with. Enter Jacob, a fine and handsome young man, who falls head over heels for Rachel. Leah is probably somewhat jealous and Rachel may be a bit of a showoff (as siblings are want to do). Then their father steps in a puts all three individuals into a bad situation. He has Leah (who remained quiet for whatever reason) marry Jacob instead, leaving Rachel in the cold. It's from this point on that we need to see how they all react to everything. I think they did a decent job, I can't fault anyone of them their actions.

    I feel bad for all involved. Even if you want to look at Laban, it's hard to tell if she's not that great of a guy or if he just wanted the best for Leah, etc.

    Thanks Rachel for all of your hard work and great information/insight. I love this study. I think I'm driving my husband crazy talking about it!! ^_^

  75. "Oh, what a tangle web we weave, when first we practice to decieve!" this sure seems to fit here. It is sometimes dificult to see God's plan, to disifer when to act and when to wait. God has a plan,but how can webe sure what to do? Sometimes even when we pray, we're not be sure of the answers, do we really hear God or is it our own input and desires we are "hearing" Rachael and Leah were put into a no win situation by their father. In some ways I think they both tried to make the most of it, to please their husband and to please God. We often hear people say how different things are today, how we have so much more to deal with, I don't know I think they had an awful lot to deal with!

  76. Jean: thanks for sharing your study bible comments on Malachi 1:2-3 and Romans 9:13. We are blessed to have commentaries that help explain God's Word...as I struggle with passages like these that say things that seem contradictory to who are God is...that he HATES Esau. That's just hard for me to grasp. But I can understand it if the meaning of hate is to not choose intimate fellowship...now that sounds like our God.

    Amen to Lorrie...as I read your words I felt you were speaking my mind regards not know when God wants us to wait or act and that sometimes we don't even get a clear answer with prayer.

    Thanks ladies,
    Paula, Indiana

  77. Wow! I always felt for Rachel and then I began to feel for Leah and now after reading this commentary, I feel or Rachel again. I'm so wishy-washy. I have an older sister and there is rivalry and competition in our relationship even today. I can't imagine how awful it would be if we were forced to share a husband (especially hers - hee hee).

  78. I'v enjoyed everyone's insight.

  79. Thanks Rachel for the additional insight on Rachel and Leah. Both women were in akward positions, which I wouldn't have liked to be in. The good part about is that they fulfulled God's plan. So it's better to fulfill God's plan then to be comfortable.


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