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Rachel, Remembering Jacob's Second Wife

by Rik Charbonneaux  
6/25/2020 / Christian Living


"So Rachel died, and she was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem)," Genesis 35:19 ESV

In our age, the name of any well known today or to historical person is quite likely be engraved upon a building or monument. That is our way of remembering their legacy for generations to come.

Quite unlike such grandiose remembrance, one of the more beloved women of the bible has been remembered for over 35 centuries by the practice of travelers placing a small stone at her grave site. I speak of the tomb of Rachel, wife of Jacob.

When Rachel died at age 36* (in 1553 BC), she was literally buried right where she passed away during the birth of her son Benjamin, in a lonely stretch of wayside on the road to Ephrath. Jacob and his sons built a pillar of stones to mark the spot of her grave and then traveled on to their destinies to become the Tribes of Israel.

Unlike other graves and markers of the period that became lost to the rigors of time, weather and dust, Rachel's grave was well known to the locals of the area and they saw to it that she nor her grave** were not to be forgotten.

Anyone traveling the route to Ephrath would pick up a small stone and place it at the site with remembrance and respect and although other cultures place stones upon graves for a myriad of reasons, the Judeans did it out of love.

The Midrash says that this still common custom of placing placing small stones in this manner started with the early remembrance of Rachel's grave** by travelers passing by. The Jewish thought is to honor and respect those now passed who effected your life positively and to recognize that you positively effected their lives as well.

Such a beautiful thought and practice, especially with its roots in the remembrance of Rachel, a giving and loving woman whom all of us can identify with, then and now.

As respect for Rachel grew through the centuries to international levels, her grave (Rachel's Tomb - Kever Rachel) is now the third holiest site for the Jewish People. It is also held in equal esteem by both Muslims and Christians alike and continues to be visited by people the world over.

I hope you have enjoyed reading of how Rachel has been remembered.

Q. How would you choose to be remembered? Will it be your faith in God that best defines your life?

* Rachel is the first woman recorded in the Bible as dying in childbirth.

** Rachel was likely laid to rest in a cavern that was discovered immediately adjacent to the current tomb during additional construction and maintenance.

Rik Charbonneaux is a retired NE Iowan who loves all of God's creatures.

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