Archive for June 11th, 2011
If you missed the discussion of the yetzer ha’ra, the nature of Man and the Talmud, and if you are working your way through the last few Today’s Word editions on this subject, you might want to listen to the lectures again.
but Rachel was beautiful and well favored Genesis 29:17 NASB
Rachel – We know God doesn’t always choose the first. Jacob, not Esau. Abel, not Cain. Joseph. David. God’s choosing often crosses the boundaries of human protocol and expectation. We hold up these men as examples of God’s selection. But maybe we should hold up a few women too.
Rachel, the second daughter, is Jacob’ s choice, and since nothing happens by accident, she is also God’s choice to bring about rescue for Israel through her son, Joseph. Of course, there is a lot of soap opera action between the beginning and the end of Rachel’s story, but her legacy is a very long one. “Rachel crying for her children” still rings true thousands of years after she was buried on the road to Bethlehem.
Rachel in Hebrew is Resh-Chet-Lamad. In pictograph, Rachel is “the person who controls what separates.” In Hebrew, rachel is a word that describes a female sheep (ewe), idiomatically, “one with purity.” In contemporary Jewish understanding, Rachel is a name that means “innocence of a lamb.” Perhaps it isn’t quite an accident that Jacob met Rachel fulfilling her task as a shepherdess. Let’s go back to the pictograph for a moment. What kind of woman is a woman who is in control of the fence around her? Since the letter Chet also means “private or inner room,” we might also ask what kind of woman is a woman who takes control of her own privacy, her own inner room? Hebrew answers: “A woman of purity.”
It is significant that rachel is used in two verses with extended meaning. The first is Song of Songs 6:6. In its plural form, the word describes the beauty of white teeth. It is an intimate part of the man’s complete adoration of his lover, an exquisite love poem filled with similes about her attractiveness. Rachel is associated with overpowering love; love so intense that a man will work years of his life to enjoy it.
But another verse reveals a deeper degree of devotion. That verse is Isaiah 53:7. It doesn’t say, “he was brought like a lamb to the slaughter, like a sheep that is dumb before its shearers.” It says, “ooch-rachel lifnei – like a rachel before her shearers.” We know that using rachel conveys the imagery of innocence, but we also need to know that a ram resists shearing but a ewe does not. Rachel voluntarily submits. She controls her own inner room so what happens on the outside does not destroy who she is. That also shows itself to be the case in the Genesis account.
Hebrew names carry meaning, sometimes meaning that transcends centuries, geographies and events. The marriage feast of the Lamb will be an opportunity to meet the ultimate Rachel. While we are waiting of her, we can enjoy the hints of the purity to come.
Topical Index: Rachel, ewe, lamb, innocence, purity, Genesis 29:17
Please indulge me as a father today. My only daughter, Rachel, was born on this day.