Rachel was Jealous, and Blamed Jacob For It (Genesis 30:1)

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The Bible is no stranger to sibling rivalry.

Cain and Abel.

Jacob and Esau.

Arguably the fiercest one of all though, has to be Rachel and Leah.

The reason for their animosity is sheer jealousy. Rachel — the loved one, according to Genesis 29 — grows jealous of Leah, the unloved one. 

Why? Even though Rachel is beautiful, has stronger eyes (since Leah’s was weak), and the first choice of their husband, Leah has four kids before Rachel even has her first.

She channels this anger towards the one person who obviously has everything to do with it: Jacob. Just like a reverse Henry VIII, Rachel blames Jacob for not giving her children, if for no other reason than that it can pull her even alongside Leah.

Her warning is as fierce as it is brief: “Give me children, or else I die.”

A little extreme, but Jacob got the point. Of course, there was nothing he could actually do about it. As he rightfully responds, “Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?”

It’s ironic that Rachel’s solution to this problem of “losing” to her sister is to do exactly what Sarah, Jacob’s grandmother, did: give him her maid as his wife, and raise children through her. Because, as we know, that worked out so well for Sarah and Hagar.

It would appear that the competitive carnality that existed in Laban, seen through his deception of Jacob, trickled down to his daughters. Both vied to be first, and they didn’t care how many wives they had to give their husband in order to win (what a weird sentence).

Perhaps instead of trying to come out on top through sheer quantity, they could have taken a (future) lesson from Hannah in 1 Samuel 1. Though she was barren initially, like Leah and Rachel, she begged God for a son — just one

God granted her that request and blessed her with Samuel. Even though God also blessed Hannah with five more children (1 Samuel 2), Hannah loved Samuel fiercely. She visited him every year and brought a special gift for him every time.

I’m sure the twelve sons of Jacob were all loved by their father and mothers, but the fact that they were brought into this world as the result of a pregnancy race between two women darkens the story just a bit.