Encouraging words for Mother’s Day.
How do we judge a person’s life? By their successes. Their failures? Their legacy?
Rachel’s story is guaranteed a place in history. She was one of the early matriarchs of the Israelites—the chosen wife of Jacob, who would later become Israel.
Her story started on a high note when she caught the eye of Jacob, the next patriarch of God’s chosen people. Her hopes were crushed when her devious father gave her older sister, Leah, in marriage to her beloved.
As his second wife, she almost failed at the most important role for a woman of her time period: Motherhood. Like several other women in her family, she was barren. When she pleaded with her husband to give her children, he became angry with her.
In desperation, she turned to pagan superstitions and negotiated for the mandrakes her nephew, Reuben, had found for his mother. The plants were believed to possess the power of fertility.
It wasn’t the first time Rachel had turned to pagan beliefs. When Jacob left Paddan Aram with his family, Rachel stole her father’s household gods. This act came close to resulting in her death.
Eventually, she turned to her husband’s God and He listened to her pleas and blessed her with her firstborn son. She was then able to focus her efforts on raising her son. Joseph continued as her legacy long after her death.
The Bible narrative tells us nothing of the interaction between mother and son, but we can draw some conclusions based on the kind of man he turned out to be. From the boastful teen we first meet, he develops into a young man with integrity, wisdom, and an unwavering belief in God.
Sadly, Rachel’s life ended while she was still a young woman. Although she gave Jacob another son, she was never able to watch Benjamin grow to adulthood. Even so, she never lost the love of her husband. He grieved when she died in childbirth on the way to Canaan, erecting a pillar to mark her burial place near Ephrath, the town of Bethlehem. The site designated as her tomb has been visited for centuries.
Jacob still grieved years later in Egypt when he bestowed his blessing on the grandsons she had never met. His words during the blessing indicated the sorrow he still felt at her loss.
The outcome of Rachel’s story should give us determination. A determination to remain faithful in carrying out the tasks that are set before us, even though the results may not appear for many years—or even after our lifetime.
Rachel’s complete story is found in Genesis 28-35 and Jacob’s blessing is in Gen. 48:1-14.