rachel-2

On September 30, the Church celebrates the feast day of St. Rachel, Jacob's wife and mother of two of the twelve progenitors of the tribes of Israel.

Jacob had fallen in love with Rachel when he met her during his stay at her father's house, Laban, who was also his first uncle. Struck by her beauty, Jacob asked for Rachel's hand in marriage and agreed to work for seven years in the house of Laban in return. After seven years, however, Laban tricked him and, by veiling the bride on the wedding day, substituted Rachel with her older sister Leah: Jacob did not notice the trick until after the wedding had been celebrated. Upon confronting Laban, the patriarch told him that he could still marry Rachel as well - but he had to work for him another seven years in return. Jacob agreed and, a week later, their marriage was also celebrated.

Leah bore Jacob eleven children, while Rachel, who was initially infertile, later finally gave birth to a boy, Joseph. After his birth, Jacob decided to leave Laban's house in secret with his family. While fleeing, Rachel stole her father's golden idols to replace the inheritance she was being neglected. When Laban became aware of the theft, he managed to reach Jacob and accused him of stealing the idols; Jacob denied and, not knowing his wife was the culprit cursed whoever had committed the crime. In the meantime, Rachel had hidden the idols inside her camel's seat cushion and sat on it. When her father came to check her tent in search of the idols, she excused herself for not standing up, saying she was on her period. Laban searched and found nothing, but Jacob's curse still stood: Rachel died in childbirth short after, managing however to bring a second son to light: Benjamin.


"Rachel steals Laban's idols", illumination from a historiated Bible, ms. Lyon, BM, Inc. 0057, f. 39r, ca. 1498, Bibliothèque Municipale, Lyon.

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