Scripts רָחֵל (Hebrew)
From the Hebrew name רָחֵל (Rachel) meaning “sheep”. In the Old Testament this is the name of Jacob’s favorite wife.
Jacob was tricked by his father Laban into marrying his older sister Leah first, and only after another seven years of working for Laban, did he allow him to marry Rachel as well. Initially she appeared to be barren, and faced with the discouragement of not having an offspring, she offered her servant Bila to Jacob to bear him children. Eventually she too was able to conceive, becoming the mother of Joseph and Benjamin.
The name Rachel in the Bible
She was one of Jacob’s two wives, sister of Jacob’s first wife, Leah (note that in the later Levitical code the marriage of two sisters became forbidden – Leviticus 18:18); daughter of Laban, who is the son of Betuel, who is the son of Nahor, Abraham’s brother.
Rachel’s two sons are Joseph and Benjamin, and Rachel dies while giving birth to the latter. Rachel names her youngest son Ben-Oni, but Jacob changes his name to Benjamin. Rachel is buried on the road to Bethlehem Ephratah (Genesis 35:19).
Rachel’s name appears in Greek in the New Testament (spelled Ραχηλ), in Jeremiah 31:5’s harrowing observation of Rachel weeping over her children, which Matthew applies to Herod’s slaughter of the children of Bethlehem (Matthew 2:18).
Jacob found her when he was running away from his brother Esau, and immediately fell in love with her. He worked for seven years to have her, but Laban deceived him and gave him Lea, his older sister, instead. Then Jacob worked for seven more years to marry Rachel (Gen 29:1-30). Rachel appeared to be barren, while Lea the sister bore Jacob children. So Rachel gave her servant Bila to her husband to have children through her (Gen 29:31-30:8; 35:25). Then GOD “remembered” Rachel, and she gave birth to Joseph, and then many years later, Benjamin. She died during Benjamin’s birth, and was buried on the way to Bethlehem (Gen 30:22-24; 35:16-20; 35:24; 46:19; 48:7; Ru 4:11; 1Sam 10:2; Jer 31:15; Mt 2:18).