This is Rachel’s Story…one of love filled with pain, anguish and sacrifice.
You probably remember many of the Bible stories all too well but what about Rachel’s story?
She watched, wondering who he was, she hadn’t seen one dressed like him around these parts. He must be a stranger from a foreign land.
She notices his fine features but doesn’t think much of it. After all, she had work to do and sheep to tend. It was an honour to have been selected as a shepherdess (one of the few) in their little village of Harran.
It was a lot of work but she was truly grateful for it. Tending to the sheep has been peaceful and fulfilling.
Rachel’s story – The Encounter
As she walked closer to the well, the man called to her and helped her fetch water for her sheep. He spoke to her in a deep, gravely voice. It was a strong voice, she liked it. He tells her that he is her father’s sister’s son and he then hugs her and kisses her cheeks.
She had heard so much about her father’s sister but never met her as his sister had married a foreigner and had moved there.
Not only was this kind stranger helping her, they were also related. How wonderful! In her excitement, she runs home to tell her father, Laban. As expected, her father tells her to bring the stranger whose name was Jacob.
When she ran back, this man, Jacob was still by the well and had a strange expression on his face as he was looking at her. She had noticed a few men look at her in this manner but this was the first time that it made her feel light headed and pleased.
She brought him back home and her family celebrated his visit. Her father told Jacob to stay longer and Jacob agreed. Everyone was pleased with this, including her sister Leah, who was usually very quiet.
As the months went by, she spent more time with Jacob, he told her about his village, his parents and how different his place was to hers. She loved listening to him. There was something about the way his eyes shone but she noticed that his smile seemed sad. Probably because he missed his people.
Jacob was loved by the entire household, he was always willing to help and assist everyone. She knew her dad was pleased with him. But she didn’t yet understand her feelings for him for surely they were feelings. She just knew she always wanted to be around him and her heart beat a little faster any time she was close to him. With the way he always looked at her, he must feel the same way.
She wondered if the rest of the household noticed any of this. She knew she had to take rein of her feelings, mama had told her and her sisters that young women were not to express themselves in such manner so as not to be thought loose or willful. She had never experienced all of these, she had heard whispers from some of the women around the village but had paid no heed to them.
It’s been 7 years and not much has changed. Rachel still spent time with Jacob and went about her work as a shepherdess. Somehow, she had hoped that their friendship would have progressed but couldn’t share these thoughts with Jacob.
On a bright morning at the beginning of the seventh month, Leah comes to tell her that their father was calling for her. When she got to him, she is asked to sit. He only says this when the subject is really important. She had only been asked to sit two times in her life (when she became a woman and when she was made a shepherdess).
Her father starts in a mellow tone
“My daughter”, I have some news for you. My sister’s son, Jacob has asked for your hand in marriage and I have accepted his proposal”. “I’m sure you do not have any objection”
It takes her a moment to respond as she is shocked and so happy. Her father keeps talking but she is barely listening. She’s reliving all her moments with Jacob. It had been so long and she was beginning to think he didn’t really care for her.
She still can’t believe she will finally be his wife. She heard her father say the marriage will be at the next full moon, which will be in 5 days.
He excuses her and she runs out to tell her mama, who, of course already knew and was happy for her. Leah is standing nearby and smiles and tells me she’s happy for her.
Five days later…
During the ceremony, she notices that her father didn’t call her out as was customarily done but she expected that her things will be moved to Jacob’s place that night and she will spend the night there.
After the ceremony, she went to get all her things ready but no one came for her. While waiting, she slept off.
In the morning, she went to find out what had happened and it was there that one of the maidservants told that Jacob had married her sister, Leah. As Leah spent the marriage night with him.
She stopped listening and could only hear the rumbling, her world, being torn to pieces. Was this to be her story, Rachel’s story?
How could another marry her Jacob? Her sister barely spent any time with Jacob and she knew deep down that he didn’t care for her sister so how could he have spent the night with her?
So many thoughts jumbled in her heart and she couldn’t hold the tears anymore. They burst out from deep within and she ran out to the sheep pen, gathered the sheep, who understood her and walked away.
She couldn’t believe her family would do this to her. Why will they tell her she will marry Jacob only to give Leah to him? How could a day that should have been the best day of her life turn out to be the worst?
The pain was unbearable. She went to a secluded area and wept for the rest of the day.
She wished she never had to go back to the house. How will she bear to see the love of her life with her sister?
Why will the God of her fathers do this to her?
But life had to go on. She had weathered a few storms in her life and will have to add this as yet another, the worst storm of her life.
She remained pleasant to everyone, knowing that bitterness will do her no good but had to avoid Jacob and Leah.
She remembered that on the morning Jacob betrayed her, he had looked at her like he wanted to say something but there would have been no point. It was already too late.
The pain remained, low burning and constant. She knew she still loved him and had hoped that time will not only heal her wounds but remove her affection for him.
One, two….seven years later
She has been living a quiet life with no real joy, just doing enough to get her through the day and the nights.
She had never imagined her life will be this way. She had always thought she would be at her husband’s side with her children about her but it was not to be.
On a damp and grey morning on the ninth month of the year, she is summoned by her father. He tells her that she will be marrying Jacob the very next day.
While he is speaking, she remembers the similar incident from 7years before, how things had changed. A part of her, the part that still loved Jacob, was happy to finally be his wife but she knew things will never be the same.
It was her lot to share her husband with her sister but she also knew that she must love him regardless and be a good wife to him and loving mother to their children.
Rachel’s story needed to be told…
The above is my personal narration of the events which transpired between Jacob and Rachel as recorded in Genesis 29. We are not told much about her but I felt led to share this account which could have been –