Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

Rachel ("a ewe"), daughter of Laban and younger sister of Lia. The journey of Jacob to the "east country" (Mesopotamia) in quest of a bride of his own kin, and his providential meeting with Rachel at the well in the open country followed by his introduction into the household of Laban are told with idyllic charm in the twenty-ninth chapter of Genesis. Jacob, being in love with Rachel, agreed to serve her father for her seven years. Laban accepted the proposal, and the seven years seemed to Jacob "but a few days, because of the greatness of his love ". He was deceived, however, by Laban, who at the end of the term of service gave him to wife, not Rachel, who "was well favoured, and of a beautiful countenance", but her elder sister Lia, who was "blear-eyed", and Jacob received the younger daughter to wife only on condition of serving seven years more. Rachel, being for a time without offspring and envious of her sister, to whom four children were born, gave to Jacob as a secondary wife her handmaid Bala, whose issue, according to a custom of the times, would be reckoned as her own. From this union were born Dan and Nephtali. In the quarrel which arose between Jacob and Laban, Rachel as well as Lia sided with the former, and when departing from her father's home she carried away with her the teraphim or household gods, believing in their protecting influence over herself and her husband ( Genesis 31:19 ). Among the sons of Rachel after the "Lord remembered " her were Joseph and Benjamin, in giving birth to the latter of whom Rachel died. At the point of death "she called the name of her son Benomi, that is, The son of my pain: but his father called him Benjamin, that is, the Son of the right hand". Rachel was buried "in the highway that leadeth to Ephrata, this is Bethlehem. And Jacob erected a pillar over her sepulchre: this is the pillar of Rachel's monument, to this day" ( Genesis 35:18-20 ). The exact location of the grave of Rachel is a disputed point. A passage in Jeremias (xxxi, 15) would seem to indicate that it was on the northern border of Benjamin towards Ephraim, about ten miles north of Jerusalem. Tradition, however, has from at least the fourth century fixed the spot four miles south of Jerusalem and one mile north of Bethlehem.


More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online


Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Jeremiah 15:10, 16-21
10 A disaster for me, mother, that you bore me to be ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 59:2-3, 4, 10-11, 17, 18
2 rescue me from evil-doers, from men of violence ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 13:44-46
44 'The kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 30th, 2014 Image

St. Peter Chrysologus
July 30: St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter