Poor Rachel! That’s all I could say when I read about her life and death.
First Rachel fell for a guy, and waited seven years to be able to marry him, only to watch her own father trick the guy into marrying her sister instead. Rachel spent an entire week after their marriage, heartbroken I’m sure, as her sister Leah began settling in as Jacob’s wife. Then, she had to settle for sloppy seconds when she became Jacob’s second wife.
Rachel may have been first place in Jacob’s heart, but she had to endure her sister’s fruitful womb over and over again. Meanwhile her own womb refused to fulfill her desire for children. It must have been torture for Rachel to watch Jacob go into the tents of Leah, Leah’s servant, and even her own servant. It had to be humiliating for her to be surrounded by their growing bellies year after year. Poor Rachel!
But, finally, she gave birth to a son...Jacob’s favorite son, Joseph. Oh joy! Finally, she was able to conceive a son with the man she loved for so long. And, again, her womb was blessed with another son. Only this time, she didn’t survive his birth. All she wanted was to bear children for Jacob, and when she finally begins to fulfill that dream, the dream ends up killing her. How tragic!
Why, God? What are we supposed to learn from that? Be careful what you wish for? Be happy with what you have, instead of focusing on what you don’t?
Then, before I could get over the sorrow I felt for Jacob and Rachel, I read this:
What in the world was Reuben thinking “laying” with his father’s concubine? Was there a shortage of women around? He was the oldest of Jacob’s sons, but could he have been near the age of Rachel’s servant girl? Even if there were no other women around, and even if they were somehow the same age, it seems borderline incestuous for a man to lay with his own siblings’ mother.
I was expecting Jacob to retaliate against Reuben somehow, but so far there’s no further mention of the scandal. But, I could almost hear suspenseful music in my head, as though something bad were about to happen in a scary movie. Perhaps we’ll see in an upcoming chapter.
Or, perhaps Jacob later forgave Reuben because, if not for him, Joseph might have been killed instead of just thrown into an empty well. Reuben was also upset when he found out that his brothers had sold Joseph into slavery. He might have been thinking, “What have you all done? Don’t you know that I was already skating on thin ice with dad? He was already about to kick me to the curb because of Bilhah, but now he surely will!”
I became emotional reading about Rachel’s death, Reuben’s and Bilhah’s affair, and Joseph’s betrayal by his brothers. Jacob must have been a strong and patient man to endure all of this without lashing out. We don’t have to lash out or retaliate, because when people wrong us, their own actions become all the punishment they’ll ever need. They may not know there’s a connection between today’s suffering and yesterday’s actions.
People may not understand that their relationship problems could stem from an unforgiving spirit towards someone else. They may not understand that their health problems stem from retaliating against a child of God. They may not understand that their financial problems stem from dishonest dealings with others. But, here’s what I know from the Bible, “That which you sow, so shall you also reap.”
How did you feel when you read about Rachel’s death? Or, Reuben’s affair? Or Joseph’s kidnapping? Feel free to comment below, or by visiting my Facebook page.
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