Genesis 29:16 Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel.
Genesis 29:17 Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel was lovely in form, and beautiful. Genesis 29:18 Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, "I'll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel." Genesis 29:20
So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.
So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). Over her tomb Jacob set up a pillar, and to this day that pillar marks Rachel’s tomb.
In 2006 my husband Simon and I went on a holiday to Israel with some friends. We had lots of sites we wanted to visit and one of these was Rachel's Tomb. We had always loved reading about Jacob and Rachel and as a woman, I had always thought it was a beautiful love story.
Rachel's Tomb is located near the Israel/West Bank borders. We were not aware of this at the time but due to security issues only bullet proof buses are allowed access to this sacred place.
Whilst driving to the tomb we had to enter Bethlehem. I just thought it would be like driving from one town to another. How wrong I was.
As we approached Bethlehem I could see this large wall which seemed to go on forever it stretched right around the city. My first thought was that it looked like a prison, like something out of Alkatraz .
I was horrified. As we approached the high security check point, the stringent measures they had taken made it feel like entering another country. The walls were about 8 metres high and were erected to protect from possible terrorists attacks.
What saddened me the most was that Bethlehem was so different in reality. I felt in a way that the beauty and richness that I had imagined the city to behold had been stolen by this wall. Considering this is the place where Jesus Christ our Saviour was born I was expecting so much more.
Once we were through into Bethlehem, we came across another large building. This again looked like a prison, high walls, barbed wire and armed guards.
I was very sad to realise this was Rachel's tomb and now understood why our taxi driver was hesitant to drive us there.
Getting out the taxi, I felt very anxious. The whole time we had been in Israel I had felt very safe and comfortable but all of a sudden in Bethlehem I felt very apprehensive and on edge. As we approached the entrance, a guard came out and Simon explained we would like to go in and see the tomb. However, the man was very vague and kept saying no. I was secretly pleased as I just wanted to get back in the taxi and go. But Simon was determined to go in as we had come all this way. After pleading for a few minutes the guard agreed we could go in but we had to give our passports to him. However, I had not brought mine; Simon tried to get me in without it but the guard began to get angry. So we decided as we had come all this way that Simon and the others would go in but I would have to wait outside with the taxi driver. I was very scared about being on my own but as I went to wait by the taxi, I remembered Simon saying that with the Lord nothing is impossible, so I started to pray. After about five minutes one of the armed guards came out and said "you come here". I thought I was in serious trouble. He led me into the building but I could not see the others. As we started walking down the corridor my heart was pumping really fast and I felt very fearful. However, to my delight, there was Simon and the others. I asked the guard as to why they let me in and he said he did not know they just changed their minds. The amazing thing is Simon said "I can not believe it I have been praying all the way down here so you could get in’ it was then I knew that this was a God appointment. So with excitement we carried on down together until we came to a room where we had to be separated as the men and women were required to go in separate entrances. I moved into my queue and they let us a few at a time into where the tomb was .When we entered the room there were already a few ladies standing by the tomb, one was praying with her hand touching the tomb and another lady was quietly crying. I felt it quite strange that they seemed to be idolizing this tomb. It was not until I started to write this article that I found out that that Rachel is called the Jewish mother and women who are infertile go to the tomb to pray, and both men and women go there to pray for the lost, health, sickness etc.
After a few minutes the ladies left and there was only myself and one of our group in the actual room where the tomb was. Walking in there was quite surreal and I suppose spooky as this was someone’s tomb. It was massive, very high and wide and was covered in a beautiful purple velvet cloth. It was very peaceful and quiet and hard to believe I was standing next to and able to touch the tomb of someone who lived and breathed in Bible times. I felt very privileged. I then saw the curtain which separated the men and women open a little bit and there was Simon. I quickly whispered ‘Put the curtain down, if any one sees us they will chuck us out’. ‘Its ok he said ‘we are on our own in here’. Simon is so excited and passionate about the Bible and he asked me to lift up the purple cloth so we could see the tomb and any original writing on it. I was hesitant to do this but I did. Simon took some pictures and then we heard someone coming in so I had to quickly put my hands on the tomb and closed my eyes as I did not want to upset anybody out of respect for their beliefs.
The pictures that Simon took that I was hoping to include in this article have gone missing, we have searched but no luck, it would have been lovely to share them with you. The main thing is I have the memories in my mind and it was an amazing experience and something we will most probably never do again as now several years on it would be to dangerous to travel back and not being so naive about the security risks .
When I read the story or watch the film of Jacob and Rachel I always think how sad it is. Jacob fell in love with Rachel and Laban her father said they could marry but Jacob would have to work for him for seven years but when they were due to marry Jacob was tricked in to marrying Rachel's sister Leah. He then worked another seven years to marry Rachel. Imagine how much he must have loved her, waiting 14 years today it would be rare for a man to wait 14 years for a wife today. . Imagine how Rachel must have felt when she realised the man she loved had been tricked into marrying her sister and that she would have to share her husband for the rest of her life. Another thing was that Leah was able to carry many children but Rachel was for a time infertile. All she wanted to do was give Jacob a son, but the sad thing is that Leah, the woman he married first, was able to give him many sons. Poor Rachel, she would have to watch Leah carrying her husband’s children and we know ourselves that when you truly love someone, to have a child together is such a special gift. Leah’s heart must have been in so much pain .The one thing Rachel had that Leah did not was Jacobs pure love, even though when I read the story I believe he did love Leah, maybe not in the way he loved Rachel. I think she was his favourite and he loved her the most. Rachel finally gave birth to a boy called Joseph and years later she fell pregnant again but on the way to Ephrath she went in to labour. The labour was very bad and she was in a lot of pain. Rachel was told it was a boy but she never saw him grow up as she sadly died in childbirth, the boy was named Benjamin.
So Rachel was buried near to where she passed away a place called Efrat now Bethlehem
Jacob buried Rachel here instead of their family burial place as in years to come because he foresaw that his descendents would pass this site during the forced exile to Babylon in the year 423 B.C.E.
Jacob erected a monument over Rachel’s grave. Ancient writings describe the grave marker as 12 stones that represented the 12 tribes of Israel with one large stone that symbolized Jacob.
From the Byzantine period until the 1800's Rachel's Tomb consisted of a tiny domed building.
Now, years later, the State of Israel's Ministry of Religion renovated the site again and has now been made much bigger.
Rachel's Tomb is a living symbol of HaShem's promise to Rachel that her children will return to the Land Of Israel. Even today Rachel’s tomb is a big part of Jewish life where people still go for prayer and also it's become a special place of hope for women finding it hard to have children.
I love the story of Jacob and Rachel and I think it teaches us a lot about life today. I feel very blessed to have been to Rachel's tomb and I love watching the time life film that they made. Rachel and Jacob go through all the same things that we encounter in our lives today but I believe for them it was different because they put their faith in God. Although times were hard and there was so much pain for Rachel her faith carried her through, she loved her husband and she had her children and even though she passed away her memory lives on for ever because she was a strong, brave beautiful woman. Today, as men and women, every day we go through hard times, heartache and have lots of problems but if we have faith in God and if we trust him and even when things do not go our way still believe in him then I believe it will strengthen us and mould us in to the people we should be.
I leave you with two sayings that when things are tough or I get low that I meditate on and that lift me.
Trust in the Lord God with all thy heart lean not on to our own understanding but acknowledge him in all our ways and he shall guide our path. With the Lord nothing is impossible
Just to give you more of a perspective of the safety of our area, go to
which is the Jewish community of Hebron's website. Our holiday of Sukkot just finished and 50,000 Jews visited Hebron over the week-long holiday. No problems, no attacks, no trouble. I've been going to Hebron for many of these Sukkot events for years and I have never ever seen any trouble. Before your next trip here to Israel you should get in touch with David Wilder of Hebron to arrange a tour of the place. They will show you the historical connection, archeological sites, and give you the straight and honest picture of life there. Of the many people I've known that have been given the tour there none of them have ever regretted it and even the leftists who dared take it had their eyes opened.
Things are not always as they seem, especially in these parts.