Now Rachel had taken the household gods and put them inside her camel’s saddle and was sitting on them. Laban searched through everything in the tent but found nothing. Rachel said to her father, “Don’t be angry, my lord, that I cannot stand up in your presence; I am having my period.” So he searched but couldn’t not find the household gods.
For context, read all of Genesis 31
Today we have come to a story about Jacob’s wife, Rachel, that leaves us with more questions than answers. When we left Rachel, she was locked in a childbearing competition with her sister, Leah. We know from Genesis 30 that Rachel was jealous of Leah because Leah had been able to bear 4 sons to Jacob but Rachel was barren. She gave Jacob her servant to have 2 surrogate sons. Eventually, God did remember Rachel and she gave birth to a son, Joseph.
It doesn’t appear that the sister wives were in agreement of much. But when Jacob tells them that God has commanded him to leave and go back to his homeland, the sisters are united in their decision to leave their father. In Genesis 31:14, the sisters said, “Do we still have any share in the inheritance of our father’s estate? Does he not regard us as foreigners? Not only has he sold us, but he has used up what was paid for us. Surely all the wealth that God took away from our father belongs to us and our children. So do whatever God has told you.”
Laban’s daughters knew they were entitled to their share of the inheritance but doubted they’d get it. It is clear from their statement that they felt as if they were treated as property by their father. He sold them to Jacob for labor and then squandered what he’d earned from the sale. They didn’t have any problem sneaking away with what Jacob had been able to glean from Laban.
But Rachel snuck away with more than what God had given them. She stole the household gods, too. Why did she do this? Was she an idol worshiper? Did she think that taking these man made gods would offer them protection, grant her fertility, or ensure her inheritance? Did she take them in retaliation over the way she’d be treated and her family cheated? We don’t know. But we do know these gods must have been important to Laban because when he pursued Jacob’s family, he accused Jacob of the theft and desperately searched his possessions for the idols.
Now, Jacob was completely unaware that Rachel had done this so he vowed to Laban that the one who was discovered with the gods would be put to death. Thankfully for Rachel, she was clever. The statues were small enough to hide in her saddle bag and she sat on it. She claimed to be having her period so she did not have to stand in his presence. She knew that no man would rummage under her seat while she was unclean. It worked. Laban never found the gods.
Later, in Genesis 35, Jacob commands his household to get rid of the foreign gods they have with them. Does Rachel dispose of the family gods at that time? We will never know. Unfortunately, Rachel later dies during the birth of her son, Benjamin.
The WORD about women in Rachel’s story is that sometimes, for various reasons only known to us, we cling to false gods. These gods can not deliver what is claimed but our God can and does keep His promises. Don’t sit on your false gods to hide them. Give them up today.
What false gods do you cling to? What are you hoping that they will do for you that the LORD cannot?
PrayLORD, You are the One True God. All other gods are worthless. Help me to let them go of them and cling only to You. Amen.