The Humbling of Scornful Rachel

Posted on May 23, 2020


By David Ettinger

This is a short, fictional look at Jacob’s “favorite” wife, and Part 2 of the story of Leah and Rachel (link to Leah’s story below).

Rachel was quiet these days. Alone in her tent with her two-week-old infant Joseph was as good as life got. She was at peace as she rested, enjoying this remarkable moment. A moment she thought would never come. Holding a child she thought she would never hold. It was too wondrous for words.

She still had to pinch herself every now and then to assure herself that the boy was indeed real – and that he was indeed hers! She had long awaited his arrival, and not always with grace and humility. No, nothing even resembling it.

The younger of two daughters, Rachel’s stunning beauty made her the center of attention wherever she went. Her sister Leah, ordinary at best, was never a source of competition. All eyes were on Rachel, and Leah was never a worry.

That was before, by a slight of their father Laban’s hand, they both ended up married to the same man, their cousin Jacob. For Rachel, Leah’s presence in the marriage was an annoyance at most, but one that could be endured; after all, she, the beautiful Rachel, was the sole object of her husband’s desire. Leah was a mere technicality.

Then something happened; something which pierced Rachel’s pride. Despite being the golden child, it was Leah who won the pregnancy sweepstakes! Rachel was incensed! “How could this have happened!” she fumed to her maidservant Bilhah. “I’M the one who was supposed to bear children first!”

Each day Leah grew larger, Rachel cringed. Everyone was looking after Leah, and even Jacob was showing her a little more attention – at Rachel’s expense! “I don’t like this at all, Bilhah,” she bristled. “How can my husband so easily impregnate my sister and not me? He’s not trying hard enough!”

The day of little Rueben’s birth was a nightmare for Rachel. The entire household feasted and celebrated Jacob’s first son, and all eyes were focused on the infant – and the mother who held him! Rachel gave her sister an obligatory kiss and made herself scarce that day, already determining who’s tent Jacob would be sleeping in that night.

“He’ll give me a child, Bilhah! I cannot allow my sister to steal his affections from me!”

Jacob did grace Rachel’s tent that night. And the night after. And for many nights following. But nothing stirred within Rachel’s womb. There were no signs of life, and she fumed more.

Meanwhile, Leah announced one morning that she was pregnant. Again! Rachel was beside herself, but said nothing, all the time aiming poisonous glares at Jacob, the cause of all her distress. “He has failed me again!” she ranted at her maidservant.

Things got even worse when Leah delivered two more children. Rachel was well aware of the score: Leah 4, Rachel 0! She could contain herself no longer. Storming into Jacob’s tent one night – a breach of etiquette he was long used to by now – she pummeled him with her disgust.

“Give me children, or I’ll die!” she demanded, her arms folded in defiance, her lips quivering.

Jacob wasn’t in the mood for such antics, which worked when Rachel was at the height of her beauty, but not so much now. “Am I in the place of God, who has kept you from having children?” he fired back, the bitter assertion shaking her.

It cut deep and hard and it hurt, but she was not about to give up. She shot Jacob another deathly glare and stormed from his tent. “So,” she vented, not caring who heard her, “God has done this to me, huh? We’ll see about that!”

She concocted a plan and launched it, demanding that Jacob adhere to custom and give her a child through her maidservant. The deed done, Bilhah delivered a son, Dan.

“God has vindicated me,” Rachel said as she held Bilhah’s baby in her arms. “He has listened to my plea and given me a son.” But after a short time, she really didn’t feel all too vindicated.

When Bilhah gave Jacob a second child, she again felt that false pride well up. “I have had a great struggle with my sister, and I have won,” she proclaimed. But after a while, she realized that though Leah’s pace of delivering children had slowed, she still had four, and despite Rachel’s boasts of victory, she still had none.

And then Leah got fertile again – two more boys and a girl! The count was now Leah, 7, Rachel, 0.

At last, it hit her: The game was over. She had battled her sister. And lost. She had battled Jacob. And lost. She had battled God. And lost. She was defeated, and she knew it. Her bluster was gone. Her fight was diminishing – along with her youthful looks. Even her jealousy of Leah was waning. She was getting too tired to fight. Too tired to hate. Too tired to rant. Too tired to blame everyone else but herself for her problems.

She became quiet, crying more and ranting less. Way less. She even cried out to God. Then, one day, she felt something strange in her belly. It was an odd sensation. She suspected, but dare not let herself think, for even a moment, that she was …

Banish the thought, Rachel!

But, as time revealed, it was real. She wanted to boast, but knew she couldn’t. She wanted to flaunt her good fortune, but those days were over. No, no, no, she knew. This was all of God. The same One whose will she had sought to circumvent. But not this time. She was broken, humbled, and God answered her. It was a wonderful pregnancy, ages in coming, glorious in its fulfilling.

The day Rachel delivered her son, she smiled and wept. There was no crowing about vindication, no gloating about victories won. Not anymore. And there never would be again. There was now only a once-spoiled child of a woman holding a baby she didn’t deserve.

And there was something else – the God she had once railed against but who nonetheless had heard the pleas of her anguish. The One who forgave her outrageous and rebellious behavior. The One who forgave her childish jealousy and bitterness. And the One who made this impossible moment possible.

Read “The Crushing Sorrow of Unloved Leah”