Read Genesis 30
Focus on verse 1-2
Life rarely turns out to be exactly what we planned it to be. We tend to idealize what we hope our future will look like…sometimes it turns out better than we hoped – sometimes it does not… most often it just comes out different than we expected.
In today’s reading we are given a glimpse of the personality and character of Rachel and her sister Leah.
It may seem to us as we look through the lens of Western culture that Rachel is behaving like the spoiled youngest child of a wealthy father who failed to teach her that life does not revolve around her alone. She is the one who Jacob loved, she is the one who was beautiful, yet she is now envious because Leah is bearing sons to Jacob and she is not able to do so. When we understand that in that culture, bearing sons was one of the few things that gave women any kind of status in the community we begin to realize that perhaps she had a legitimate concern, however, a further indicator of Rachel’s character is the way she approaches Jacob with the issue.
When Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she envied her sister. She said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I shall die!” Jacob’s anger was kindled against Rachel, and he said, “Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?” (v. 1-2)
She demands that he (Jacob) give her children! A demand that understandably tests Jacob’s patience, since conception was beyond his ability to control once he had done his part creative process. This demanding attitude further supports the notion that Rachel may have been accustomed to getting what she wanted in her world. One also begins to see some of the complications of polygamous marriages as the women compete for status in the family by bearing children. One interesting detail in the story that I suspect is often overlooked is the faithful devotion of Leah who despite knowing that Jacob did not initially love or want her appears to be sincerely devoted to him. It makes one wonder if it is perhaps only after Rachel dies in childbirth that Jacob begins to be able to see this.