Rachel’s barrenness

Rachel was loved by Jacob more than Leah because of her beauty. That made Leah unloved and rejected and the Lord opened her womb because of that.

(Gen 29:30-31 NIV)  Jacob lay with Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah. And he worked for Laban another seven years. {31} When the LORD saw that Leah was not loved, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren.

(Gen 30:1 NIV)  When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, "Give me children, or I'll die!"

In the midst of barrenness, Rachel committed the error of envy. She compared herself with those who had what she did not and hoped for. The Bible warns us against comparing ourselves with others and envy.

(2 Cor 10:12 NIV)  We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.

(Prov 14:30 NIV)  A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.

Envy does not exist alone. With envy comes other emotions such as rivalry, comparison, malice grudges and criticism.

Why did Rachel not have the right to compare? Because God had compassion on Leah because she was not loved by her husband. As a result she felt miserable. You could see that from how she described her own condition.

(Gen 29:32-34 NIV)  Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, "It is because the LORD has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now." {33} She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, "Because the LORD heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too." So she named him Simeon. {34} Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son she said, "Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons." So he was named Levi.

Rachel, on the other hand, was prettier, younger and loved.

(Gen 29:16-17 NIV)  Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. {17} Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel was lovely in form, and beautiful.

In fact, Rachel must have felt so loved because Jacob was willing to work 14 years just to have her.

In the overall scheme of things, God was being fair to both sisters. When we are envious of others, we forget what we do have. That is why it is so important to praise God everyday and count our blessings lest we become too preoccupied with what we don’t have.

Rachel was the fourth wife of a patriarch to suffer barrenness. God was making it very apparent that human ambitions and human effort were not the means to carry on the line of promise of Abraham. All were subjected to God’s sovereignty and timing. All had to wait and pray hard for what God had promised. The lessons of patience, faith, and submission to God’s sovereign ways and means are offered in the barrenness stories of all four patriarchal wives.

When God chooses to allow barrenness for a season, He is working according to His perfect plans. At times, he wants to mould our character and teach us things that we cannot learn if we get everything we want when we want it.

(Jer 18:6 NIV)  "O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?" declares the LORD. "Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.