Now while he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with her father's sheep, for she was a shepherdess." Genesis 29:9
Rachel was the younger daughter of Laban and sister to Leah. She met her cousin, Jacob, while caring for her father's sheep, (Laban and Jacob's mother were siblings.)
"Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice and wept." (Gen. 29:11)
It seems that Jacob experienced love at first sight, and when he met with Laban he asked him for her hand and offered in exchange for her, seven years of labor under Laban.
On their wedding night Rachel's father tricked Jacob and in the end he was married to Leah. Rachel must have suffered agony over this deception (waiting seven years) and after a week was then married to Jacob. I'm sure there was hostility, rivalry and jealousy between the sisters. I'm sure Rachel carried a heavy load of retaliation against her father.
"...but Rachel was barren." (Gen. 29:31)
Then to add insult to injury Rachel could not give birth but Leah bore son after son while Rachel time and time again came up empty. Rachel blamed Jacob and then allowed her maid to bear children for her. Finally, she became pregnant and gave Jacob a son they named Joseph (who became his father's favorite).
On a journey back to Jacob's homeland Rachel packed away some of her father's household idols, unknowing by Jacob. She had placed these objects in her saddlebags and sat on them as she rode the countryside. These small images were customarily kept in homes. Likely the images were indispensable evidence for a claim to the family inheritance, though some believe Rachel was a secret believer in pagan superstitions. If this were true, she would have believed the images would give them safety in their journey and prosperity in their new home (or maybe a jab at her father).
Soon after their departure Laban caught up with them, asking permission to check their bags for his belongings. Jacob, giving his approval of the search, allowed Laban to carry on with his wishes. Rachel, being clever, feigned weakness from her menstrual cycle so that she didn't have to dismount. (Whatever a menstruating woman sat upon was later described as unclean (Lev. 15).)
During another big move Rachel became pregnant for the second time. The travel in hilly country was difficult and upon approaching Bethlehem she went into hard labor and died during the birth of their son, Benjamin. She was buried there in Bethlehem.
"So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem), and Jacob set a pillar on her grave, which is the pillar of Rachel's grave to this day." (Gen. 35:19-20)
Rachel, a woman greatly loved by her husband, gave the world outstanding sons; and despite her flaws, she stands as an honored daughter of Yahweh.
I love you & He loves you more!
Lord, Thank You for the written life of Rachel. We watched her grow from a young girl to a wife; facing the odds of difficult strategies set against her from the beginning. May we seek and learn and grow into better Christ followers from her example of how to handle circumstances we face. In Jesus' name. Amen.