3 Valuable Lessons from Rachel in the Bible

Rachel’s story in the Bible is one full of love and jealousy. 

Here is a glimpse into their family tree that we find in the Old Testament. Rachel was the daughter of Laban and the younger sister to Leah. She became the wife of Jacob and the mother of Joseph and Benjamin who, together with their brothers, make up the 12 tribes of the House of Israel. Laban was Jacob’s mother’s brother. He was Laban’s nephew.

Jacob was the second son of Isaac and Rebekah. Before his death, Isaac told Jacob not to take a wife from the land of Canaan. Instead, he commanded him to take a wife from the daughters of his uncle, Laban. 

After his departure, he had an amazing encounter with the Lord in the land he named Bethel – the place of God. It was here where the Lord passed on to Jacob the covenant He had made with his fathers. The next morning he continues on his journey and comes to the land of Paddan Aram where he sees a well in a field. The flocks were gathered so he rolled the stone away from the well’s mouth. It is at this time that he sees Rachel approaching. After a quick introduction, he was taken to her father’s house.

Much drama comes their way as they attempt to have a normal life. Laban’s older daughter, Leah enters the picture early on in the story, disrupting the plans that Rachel probably had for her dream man. The sisters maintain a great struggle with each other because each was granted blessings that the other did not have. 

Pay close attention to the key takeaways as they will make you think!

  • What was Rachel known for in the Bible?
  • What does the story of Jacob and Rachel teach us?

Who was Rachel in the Bible?

Rachel was a shepherd and household manager in a town called Haran. She married Jacob and had two biological children with him. She named her first son Joseph and the second, Benjamin. She was his favorite wife, and he proved his love for her by working hard for her father to win her over! Jacob loved Rachel more than any of his other wives, but he had to work 14 years to get her hand in marriage. That’s true dedication! We see a beautiful, selfless love story evolve as we read the story of Jacob and Rachel. 

Rachel Was A Beautiful Young Woman

Was it love at first sight when Jacob saw the beautiful Rachel? It sure seems like it! When he saw her with her father’s sheep, he ran right up to her and kissed her. Then, he began weeping. That sounds like love at first sight to me! 

Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and he wept aloud. – Genesis 29:11 (NLT)

Jacob worked hard for Rachel’s father, Laban, and when he was asked how much he needed to be paid, Jacob just asked for Rachel’s hand in marriage.

Since Jacob was in love with Rachel, he told her father, “I’ll work for you for seven years if you’ll give me Rachel, your younger daughter, as my wife.” – Genesis 29:18 (NLT)

Rachel Married Jacob

The story of Jacob and Rachel in the Bible is a complicated one. It’s much like a soap opera today. Jacob did work the seven years he promised Laban he would so that he could marry Rachel. For Jacob, these seven years flew by because of his love for Rachel! 

So Jacob worked seven years to pay for Rachel. But his love for her was so strong that it seemed to him but a few days. – Genesis 29:20 (NLT)

Since the custom of their community was to have the oldest daughter marry first, Laban tricked Jacob into marrying Leah, the older sister, instead of Rachel. He had brought in Leah to Jacob instead of Rachel on their wedding night. Jacob’s anger raged against Laban because he loved Rachel. 

Now in the evening he took his daughter Leah and brought her to him; and Jacob had relations with her.  Laban also gave his female slave Zilpah to his daughter Leah as a slave. So it came about in the morning that, behold, it was Leah! And he said to Laban, “What is this that you have done to me? Was it not for Rachel that I served with you? Why then have you deceived me?”  But Laban said, “It is not the practice in our place to marry off the younger before the firstborn.  Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also for the service which you shall serve with me, for another seven years.” Jacob did so and completed her week, and he gave him his daughter Rachel as his wife. – Genesis 29:23-28

Laban said he would give Rachel to Jacob if he would agree to work an additional seven years. Isn’t that crazy?!? It really shows that Jacob truly cared for Rachel, as he agreed.

So Jacob agreed to work seven more years. A week after Jacob had married Leah, Laban gave him Rachel, too. – Genesis 29:28 (NLT)

As you can imagine, Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah, and of his many wives, Rachel was always his favorite. Her beauty was unparalleled, and she must have had a gorgeous soul to have made Jacob work seven years for her hand in marriage.

There was no sparkle in Leah’s eyes, but Rachel had a beautiful figure and a lovely face. – Genesis 29:17 (NLT)

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Rachel and Leah in the Bible

Rachel loved her older sister Leah, but there was much turmoil and sibling rivalry in their relationship. After all, Leah “stole” the man Rachel was meant to marry. Then, Leah was able to have plenty of children for Jacob while Rachel waited with infertility problems. So, they were both jealous of one another for different reasons. 

Rachel wanted children on her timing, while Leah was having babies left and right. Leah longed for the undying affection and love that Jacob showed Rachel, and she felt that having children was the best way to win his heart.

When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, He enabled her to have children, but Rachel could not conceive. – Genesis 29:31 (NLT)

When Rachel saw that she wasn’t having any children for Jacob, she became jealous of her sister. – Genesis 30:1a (NLT)

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The Meaning of Rachel in the Bible

Rachel means “Shepherd” in the Bible, which is well-fitting for Rachel since she was a shepherd to her father’s flock of sheep.

Do Your Own Bible Study of Rachel

Do your own study of Rachel in the Bible by using these free Bible study worksheet kits. Use the Chapter Study Kit to do your own, in-depth study of any biblical character.

Characteristics of Rachel in the Bible

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Rachel had some ups and downs, as we all do in life. Let’s look at some of her more admirable traits.

Rachel Trusted God

While Rachel may have had doubts about what God was doing in her life, she always believed in Him. The story of Rachel in the Bible shows us that God’s bigger picture is always right and good, even if we don’t see it. He works behind the scenes, and we must trust him when things don’t go according to our plans! 

So Rachel gave her servant, Bilhah, to Jacob as a wife, and he slept with her. Bilhah became pregnant and presented him with a son. Rachel named him Dan, for she said, “God has vindicated me! He has heard my request and given me a son. – Genesis 30:4-6 (NLT)

Rachel was Loyal to Her Family

Before she focused all her attention on her husband, Jacob, she was a shepherd and household manager, so we know that she worked hard to care for the flock of Laban. She listened and obeyed her father when he said that she would marry Jacob, though we do know that she wanted to marry him since he was in love with her, and she felt the same way about him.

Rachel arrived with her father’s flock, for she was a shepherd. – Genesis 29:9b (NLT)

Rachel Cared About Having Jacob’s Children

Although Rachel did go many years without having children and watched her sister have lots of boys and one girl child, she did finally have children of her own. Around the time of the wheat harvest, after some drama with mandrake plants, and after Leah had her sixth son, God blessed Rachel with her first child. God knew exactly what Rachel needed and blessed her family with two boys – Joseph and Benjamin. God answered her prayers by giving her her heart’s greatest desire.

Then God remembered Rachel’s plight and answered her prayers by enabling her to have children. – Genesis 30:22 (NLT)

What We Can Learn from Rachel in the Bible

Lessons from Rachel in the Bible

Here are a few lessons we can learn from the story of Rachel.

God is Always in Control

Both of Jacob’s wives went through ups and downs in the story of Rachel. We see Leah hurt because she was not a favorite of Jacob’s, but she is blessed with 7 children! Rachel, on the other hand, was unable to have children for a long time, but God remembered her desire for offspring, and He blessed her. The sons of Rachel and Leah formed the nation of Israel by becoming part of the 12 tribes of Isreal. Little did she know that the birth of Joseph was God’s provision for the salvation of his family during the coming time of famine.

Both sisters were given a servant. Leah’s was given the servant Zilpah, and Rachel’s had the handmaid Bilhah. They both tried to take God’s plan into their own hands by giving their servant to Jacob to try and increase their lineage through them. The sons of Rachel were Joseph and Benjamin

We must always remember that God is in control and will lead us in the right direction if we trust and listen to Him. Let Him guide your life and watch the wonderful things that will happen as a result. You may not see sunshine and rainbows every day, but trusting God can lead to a more positive outlook. Ultimately, His plan for your life is greater than anything you could imagine.

Things Don’t Always Turn Out the Way We Expect

I’m sure Rachel did not expect her father to make Jacob work 14 years for her hand in marriage. She probably also did not expect her sister to marry the man she was in love with. In fact, Rachel probably felt betrayed, frustrated, and heartbroken. She may have felt that instead of a beautiful love story, her life was unraveling into a nightmare.

Also, once both sisters were married, Rachel wanted to have children right away, but she was not so fortunate. God had other plans for the sisters in this wild story! But God did listen to Rachel, knew her heart, and blessed her in His own time. She did finally see victory!

So, what is the moral of the story of Rachel in the Bible? Things in this life are just not always going to go according to our plans or wishes. Unexpected things happen all of the time. 

You are probably very familiar with this, as it happens to us all. The best thing you can do is to try to find joy in suffering as Paul did in Philippians rather than complaining or wallowing in pity. I love his words of encouragement in this epistle that says he had learned to be content in all things (Philippians 4)

We Need to Be Grateful to God

While these daughters of Laban did not get their way when they wanted it, they were both believers in God. They did show their appreciation when they did receive blessings. They prayed heartfelt prayers and talked to God, showing they had an active relationship with Him. Both sisters were very grateful to God once they were able to have Jacob’s children!

How often do you pray to God about the blessings you’ve received in your life? Do you pray to ask for things, or do you also count the many things you have to be grateful for? 

It’s important to thank God when you receive good things in your life. Consider using a gratitude journal to record the things you are thankful for. You’ll be shocked at how long the list really is!

Final Thoughts of Rachel in the Bible

I love the fact that the story of Rachel is not a perfect fairy tale. She and Jacob did not ride off in the sun with anything but their love. Instead, there were other wives and children involved, not to mention the family tension between Rachel’s father and Jacob.

Love stories that are too perfect don’t seem real to me, so I’m glad to have learned all about Rachel and how her life had unexpected plot twists. She did not always get her way, but trusting and believing in God always gave her many blessings in the end. And her sons went on to live incredible lives and made up a portion of the tribes of Israel.

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Michele KelseyMeet the Author

Michele L. Kelsey is a Bible scholar and freelance writer who founded and manages Sharing Life and Love – a Christian website dedicated to helping people become the best version of themselves through volunteerism, Christianity, and recovery.