Bible Commentator


Rabbi Moshe Reiss

RACHEL AND LEAH: Conflicting Siblings:

'What does God know about the grief of not being able to have a child?! Rachel knows'. 1

Rachel is described as shapely and beautiful while Leah is described as having eyes 'rachot' -'weak/tender' (Gen. 29:17). The midrash have explained that Leah was destined to marry Esau. Rebekah had arranged with her brother Laban for her two sons to marry his twin daughters. 2 By the time the girls were grown Esau's alleged wickedness (in smilar midrashim) was well known and thus Leah's continual crying to avert such a divine fiat or destiny impacted her eyes (BT Bava Batra 123a).  

En route to Haran Jacob to find a  wife from his mother’s family, Jacob stops at a well and inquires about his uncle Laban. The local shepherds tell him that Laban's daughter Rachel is approaching the well with his flock.  Jacob went to her and 'kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice and wept' (29:11). Then he announces their kinship.

A man and a woman kissing is unique in the Bible, except perhaps 'Let him kiss me with kisses of his mouth' (SoS 1:2); As Dresner notes 'if Jacob kissed her, can we not assume that Rachel allowed herself to be kissed? 3

Rachel runs home to tell of Jacob's arrival; Laban invites him to the family home and he begins working for his uncle. A month later Laban offers Jacob wages so you should 'not [work] in vain' (Gen. 29:15). Jacob suggests working for seven years in order to marry Rachel. After the seven years (which the narrator tells us was like a few days because of his love for Rachel (Gen. 29:20) Jacob had to remind Laban that his time of service has expired and payment was due. Laban had never stated his agreement to the time, having simply responded 'stay with me' (Gen. 29:19). However Laban arranges a marriage feast but substitutes Leah his eldest daughter, for Rachel; explaining that it was not their custom to give the younger in marriage before the firstborn – 'habekhora' (Gen. 29:26); the identical words uttered by Jacob when deceiving his father to receive his blessing (27:19). Laban agrees to give Rachel to Jacob at the end of the week of wedding festivities on the provision that Jacob work another seven years to pay off a second bride price (Gen 29:15–30). Jacob seems resigned and acquiesces to this agreement.

A midrash tells that Rachel suspected that her father would try to switch the sisters under the canopy. Rachel and Jacob developed a plan so Jacob could distinguish between Rachel and Leah even in the dark wedding bed and thus frustrate Laban's plan. But Rachel according to an extraordinary midrash 'relented, suppressed my desire, and had pity upon my sister that she should not be exposed to shame. In the evening they substituted my sister for me with my husband, and I delivered over to my sister all the signs which I had arranged with my husband so that he should think that she was Rachel. More than that, I went under the bed upon which he lay with my sister; and when he spoke to her she remained silent and I made all the replies in order that he should not recognize my sister's voice. I did her a kindness, was not jealous of her, and did not expose her to shame.' (Midrash Rabbah Lam. Proems XXIV).

It is also noted in the Talmud that Rachel refused to shame her sister by rejecting the masquerade and in fact collaborated with Leah by sharing the signs she and Jacob had developed (BT Megiallah13b and Baba Bathra 123a). 'In the morning, behold, it was Leah' (29:25) but only in the morning, during the night she was Rachel. Jacob asked Leah how she could engage in such deception; she responded (according to another midrash) 'Is there a teacher without a pupil? I but profited by your instruction. When your father called you Esau did you not say, Here am I' (Midrash Gen. Rabbah 70:19). 4

Jacob had come near his Isaac his father; and he felt him, and said: 'The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau' (Gen. 27:22.) In this case the hands were the hands of Leah and the voice those of Rachel. The trickster Laban tricks Jacob the trickster. As Robert Alter stated 'Jacob becomes victim of symmetrical poetic justice. 5 As he shall learn, the injunction against a man marrying two sisters is indeed well founded (Lev. 18:18).

 While Rachel's saintliness in this event is easy to perceive, Leah's passion at accomplishing her goal should also be clear, she was Rachel at night. She changed at night just as Jacob changed in his father's dim eyes (night eyes) from Esau to Jacob; that after all is Leah's real statement.

Jacob said to his father not 'ani' but 'anokhi' (27:19); the latter has a reality different than 'I am' it is 'I really am'. 6 Jacob really became Esau with his mother's help as Leah became Rachel with her sister's help. Both are twins  as noted before and as such can be each other or at least the shadow or mirrors of each other. 7 Thus Jacob rebirthed as his older brother was now scheduled to marry the older daughter. The question is who was Leah rebirthed as by becoming Rachel. When Jacob's first sees Rachel she is repeatedly (three times) referred to 'the daughter of Laban his mother's brother' (29:10). Jacob of course is indeed the son of Rebekah, Laban's sister who engineered the entire first hoax. So perhaps Leah becomes Rachel who is Rebekah, the sister of Laban.  8

When God “saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb” (Gen 29:30),  9 giving Leah four sons (Gen 29:32–35); each of the first three son was she named hoping that the result of the birth would gain her husband's love, but it was not to be; finally with her fourth - Judah – she simply praised the Lord.

Rachel is barren and envious of the apparent ease of her sister at conceiving. She demands of Jacob 'give me children or I shall die!' - more literally without children 'I am 'ayin' (nothing)' (Gen 30:1). The sisters have a certain dichotomy, either matrimonial love or motherhood - Rachel feels compelled to have a child to succeed – she must be a mother; being the beloved wife – which she undoubtedly is - is not sufficient for her. Jacob responds 'am I in God's place (30:2)?

Jacob's appears non-emphatic and non-supporting to Rachel's plea, declaring that he can do nothing because it is God who has denied Rachel children. However a midrash suggests that Jacob in fact could have done more. He might have fervently prayed as his father Isaac did when Rebekah his mother was barren and and the midrash suggests Abraham, his grandfather did for Sarah, although this is unknown in our text (Midrash Rabbah Gen. 71:7). On the other hand another midrash has Jacob saying 'I am not like my father' (Rashi on 30:1-2) I am fertile; 'God has witheld from you the fruit of the womb' (30:2)'. 10

In response to her incessant demand Jacob agrees to Rachel's plan, to give Bilhah, her handmaiden (Gen 29:29), to Jacob as a surrogate wife to mother children.  (One wonders whether Jacob knew of the disastrous Sarah/Hagar relationship and his father's half brother Ishamael.) The plan succeeds, Bilah gives birth to a child Rachel names Dan, explaining 'God judged [vindicated] me' (Gen 30:5–6). The competition with her sister continues to rage;  Bilhah bear another son, whom Rachel names Naphtali ('I have prevailed'), in reference to the 'contest' with her sister (Gen 30:7–8).

In the interim Leah develops infertility and she gives her maid Zilpah to Jacob as a surrogate wife. Zilpah  bears to two sons as well; Leah's names them Gad for good fortune and Asher 'in my happiness women (banot) will pronounce me happy' (30:13). Leah frame of reference is no longer Jacob, nor her sister nor even God, but other women who will esteem her for having so many sons. 11

Despite the birth of children through the surrogate wives, Rachel and Leah are still not fulfilled, wanting to conceive children of their own (Leah more children). A turning point comes when Leah’s son Rueben finds mandrakes. A mandrake root was often considered a fertility charm and an aphrodisiac. Rachel wants the mandrakes, and Rachel has something that Leah wants even more than mandrakes. Leah makes a devestating request – she wants the occupancy of Jacob’s bed and trades a night with Jacob for the mandrakes. When they reach an agreement – their first dialogue in our text, Leah announces to Jacob that she has 'hired' him for the night (Gen 30:14–16). Of course Leah conceives without the mandrakes and a second and third time. Despite how she named Asher (Zilpah's son) she names this second son Zebulun - God bestowed a great gift on me and this time my husband will honor me because I gave him six sons' (30:20).

Finally after Leah bears Jacob seven children (and he has an additional four from the surrogate wives) Rachel finally conceives and bears a son and names him Joseph. Her two explanations for the name reveal her state of mind: “God has taken away my reproach” and “may the Lord add to me another son!” (Gen 30:22–24).

The names of children reflect a sad and key relationship between the sisters. And no doubt the relationship between the brothers – which we know about - is adversely affected by this relationship between the two/four Mothers, all descendents of Jacob.

That both sisters lack satisfaction with the current situation with their father as well becomes clear when the family leaves Laban and sets out for the land of Canaan; both sisters actively agree to leave for Canaan. At the same time, they both express their anger at Laban, who never gave them any of the bride price earned by Jacob’s fourteen years of service for them (Gen 31:14–16).

When Rachel had born Joseph, Jacob said to Laban it is time for me to return home (30:25). Jacob negotiates with Laban that he will keep the speckled, spotted and dark sheep and goats as his wages (Gen.30:32-33). Due to Jacob's almost supernatural maternal care his flocks increase significantly.  

For the first time Jacob consults with Rachel and Leah telling them of his problems with their father negotiating over his wages. In Hebrew the response of the wives is singular – most commentators assume it is Rachel - answering for the wives/sisters (31:14). It is rare for the two to speak as one. They accuse their father of disinheriting them, selling them, taking what belongs to them and their children. They claim their father has treated them as foreign or strange women, has 'sold' (maker) them and 'ate' up their inheritance. 12  (While we may think of selling a wife as part of this ancient Mid Eastern culture, in fact in the Hebrew Bible the term 'makar' is never used for a wife but for is reserved for selling one into slavery (Joseph, Gen. 37:27-28,36, 46:4-5;  Ex. 21:7-8).

No one talks about Laban's deception in switching Rachel for Leah. In the verse after we are told Rachel stole her father's teraphim (31:19) we are told Jacob tricked Laban the Aramean (31:20); both Rachel and Jacob have tricked Laban; and in several further verses God comes to Laban the Aramean (31:24) completing the cycle; he, Laban in now the stranger. 13  There is a another midrashic identification of Laban with a stranger, with Balaam. 'He sent messengers to Laban the Aramean, he is Balaam'. 14

But Rachel alone takes action: she steals her father’s teraphim, his household gods (Gen 31:19). What in fact was Rachel's motive in stealing her father's teraphim?

Traditional commentaries believe they were religious images or a form of ancestor protection and Rachel was attempting to dissuade her father from worshiping these idols (Rashi 31:19).  Ibn Ezra and Nahmanides believed they could be used to consult the location where Jacob was taking the family or to be used in negotiating for pardon if Laban caught them (Josephus 15). In another section Josephus discusses the habit of women carrying their household gods, their most sacred heirlooms, with them into foreign lands particularly when they were concerned about their own fertility (Josephus 18,9,5). 16 The fact that Jacob requested that his household 'remove their foreign gods . . . and purify themselves' (Gen. 35:2) suggest that he was aware of this problem and had his own solution.

According to ancient Midrashim the teraphim had already helped Laban. When Jacob first arrived Laban consulted the teraphim as to how to behave to his very poor nephew. He probably remembered that when Abraham's servant came to take a wife – his sister Rebekah – for his son Isaac, he came with riches. They responded that Jacob would bring good fortune. He will ask for a wife as compensation, perhaps two wives. 17

More recent commentary includes the authority and leadership value inherent in the teraphim held in ancient cultures as found in the Nuzi documents. 18 Household gods represented a daughter's right (especially when they was no male inheritor) to her inheritance or perhaps her husband's rights to the inheritance. 19 'It has been conjectured that Laban had no sons at the time of Jacob's marriage of Leah . . .  By carrying off the teraphim, however Rachel preserved for Jacob the chief title to Laban's estate'. 20 John Bright similarly suggests that 'Rachel's theft of Laban's gods (tantamount to title to the inheritance)'. 21  (We recall Sarah's concern about inheritance when she insisted on exiling Ishmael -Gen. 21:10). It is difficult not to think that Rachel thought the teraphim had some significant value.

Naomi Steinberg contends that 'Rachel was settling Laban's debt to her and Leah'. 22 While her father and husband continually negotiated the terms of their agreement there was little that women in thst time and culture could do to protect their  rights.

When Laban caught up with Jacob he accused him of both taking his daughters in stealth and stealing his teraphim. Jacob not knowing that Rachel had stolen the teraphim, said 'whoever is found with the teraphim shall not live' (31:32), a vow comparable to Jephthah in foolishness (Ju. 11:31-32).

When seeking the teraphim Laban searches the tents. When seeking in Rachel's tent she says 'Let not my lord be angry that I cannot rise up before thee; for the way of women is upon me' (31:35). Of course she is angry at her father and knows she can not negotiate with him. The way of women represents her position as a woman as opposed to her being in 'nidah' (her period) or 'tamah' (impure), the more usual terms in the Bible. Given that Rachel gives birth shortly to Benjamin it is likely that she was in a 'family way'; in fact not menstruating and was deceiving her father.

If Rachel was continuing her conflict with her sister Leah, she may have believed that holding her father's teraphim would help her own child – Joseph -  gain that power over Leah's first born. 23 Rachel may have believed it would help her son Joseph overcome his lack of being a firstborn.

'And the Lord saw that Leah was hated' (29:30)  24.

Leah's life is seen through Genesis as one of unhappiness and being subordinated to her sister, her father and her husband. Her married life (all we know about her) is filled with family conflict. Perhaps the most poignant  event is when she sells her sister Rachel mandrakes as a trade to achieve her conjugal rights to her husband (30:14-16).

However of the twelve tribes of Israel six are Leah's sons, direct descendants and two her surrogates through Zilpah; the two most important being Levi who is the ancestor of Moses and Aaron and the Cohanim and Judah the ancestor of the Davidic monarchy. And Leah is buried in the Cave of Machpelah alongside of Sarah and Rebekah and next to Jacob, his father Isaac and grandfather Abraham.

There are several midrashim and commentaries that attempt to dispel the negative image of Leah in Genesis.

The text tells us that Jacob 'loved Rachel more than Leah' (gam et Rachel mi-Leah' (29:30). Rabbi Levi Yitzhak of Berdychev (a great Hasidic Rabbi 1740 – 1809) translates the 'gam' to mean: Jacob loved Rachel more because she brought with her Leah, the saintly one. 25

In a midrash an author creates a saintliness by the following tale. We are told that when Rachel finally conceived, her fetus was female. In the previous verse we are told ' And afterwards she [Leah} bore a daughter, and called her name Dinah' (30:21). The word 'afterwards' in this midrash is interpreted that Leah prayed so that her sister's fetus would become the son she was carrying and she, Leah gave birth to the daughter. Rachel gave birth to a son Joseph originally from Leah (Midrash Rabbah Gen. 72:6). 26 That sons are more important than daughters is obvious in Genesis.

The Book of Jubilees is a retelling of the Books of Genesis and Exodus. It was written in the 2nd century BCE in Hebrew 27and is seen as a Midrashic commentary on Genesis and parts of Exodus. 28  It is likely the earliest remaining midrashic text on the story of Leah and Rachel.

Jubilees treats Leah differently by both eliminating tales told in Genesis (the meeting at the well) and by adding tales; the major addition is the story in Jubilees relating to Leah's death; not noted at all in Genesis.

'His wife Leah died . . .  he buried her in the two fold cave near his mother Rebecca, on the left of his grandmother Sarah's grave. All her sons and his sons came to mourn with him for his wife Leah and to comfort him regarding her because he was lamenting her. For he loved her very much from the time when her sister Rachel died because she was perfect and right in all her behavior and honored Jacob. In all the time that she lived with him he did not hear a harsh word from her mouth because she was gentle, peaceful, truthful and honorable. As he recalled all the things that she had done in her lifetime, he greatly lamented her because he loved her with all his heart and with all his soul' (Jub. 36:21-24).

This is sharp contrast to the only statement of Leah's death and burial in Genesis when Jacob charged his children about his burial stating 'there Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried; there Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried; and there I buried Leah' (Gen. 49:31); Jacob does not even use the appellation that Leah is his wife. As noted in the Book of Ruth 'The LORD make you . . . like Rachel and Leah'; she is noted second despite being firs married and the elder; clearly the second wife. 29

The statement in Jubilees that after Rachel's death Jacob loved Leah has an air of reconciliation that is not even noted in Jubilees let alone in Genesis. (This despite a remarkable reconciliation between Esau and Jacob.) As is the statement that his sons also came to mourn her, the virtues attributed to her and that Jacob love her with all his heart and soul is reminiscent of the statement in Deuteronomy exhorting loving the Lord (Deut. 6:5).

Jubilees notes Leah's death as 24 years after Rachel's death, meaning she  helped Jacob mourn the death of his own parents (Isaac and Rebekah) and sustained him during the period of his supposed loss of Joseph.

Some Jewish mystics relate Jacob's life prior to Rachel's death as his earthly role, (eg overtaking Esau and Laban, amassing wealth and building his family). In The second stage of his life remaining only with Leah as a wife he develops as Israel, his God given name. 30 Gershom Scholem describes the Shekhina as having two faces, one is Rachel as the exiled one and the other is Leah as reunited with Jacob. 31 In this way Leah helps Jacob develop himself into Israel, the Patriarch of Israel. 32

Rachel dies giving birth to her second child Benjamin before reaching Jacob's father house, 'before reaching Ephrath' - Bethlehem (35:19). Jacob buries her where she died, in her own tomb (Gen 35:20; 48:17) and not in the ancestral tomb at Machpelah. And just before the entrance to the city of David, whose ancestor is Judah, Leah's fourth son. One could claim this is Leah's ultimate triumph. 33

Jacob tells us that 'when I came from Paddan, Rachel, to my sorrow, died in the land of Canaan . . . and I buried her there' (48:7). Why does Jacob not carry Rachel's body the twenty or so miles south from the alleged place of her demise to the cave at Machpelah which Genesis states as the proper burial site for members of Abraham's family. Jacob himself tells us he  buried Leah in the Machpelah (Gen.49:31) and he requests that he himself be buried there as well (50:13).

So why does Jacob not bury his beloved Rachel at Machpelah, but rather in
a roadside grave? According to a midrash because she dishonored her father by stealing (on the Ten Commandments) 34, According to another midrash Jacob knew of that the Babylonian exiles would pass by and Rachel could pray for mercy (midrash Rabbah Gen. 82:10).

Her early death is attributed by the Rabbis to Jacob's curse over the teraphim. Despite women dying in childbirth seemingly a common event, it was considered in numerous cultures a cursed and unnatural death. Women were often seperated during childbirth due to the fear of being cursed, a form of ritual pollution. 35

Leah disappeared in the text after Rachel's death; we are only told she was buried in the cave of Machpelah.

There is one more twist to the Rachel story. She who spent most of her life barren and died young in childbirth becomes an image of motherhood. Her tomb remains as a landmark (1 Sam 10:2) and a testimony to her.

A midrash attributes Rachel's death so that she should be able to cry for the exiles (Midrash Rabbah Gen. 82:10) or her role in helping the exiles was her reward for helping Leah (Pesikta Rabbati 3) 36  The Midrash on Lamentations we quoted above where Rachel kept under the bridal bed concludes the 'Holy One, blessed be He, responding 'For your [Rachel] sake, I will restore Israel to their land' and then quotes Jeremiah 31:14.

The series of Haftarot of consolations beginning on the first Shabbat after Tisha B'Av go from from mourning beginning with 'Sing, O barren one, you who bore no child! Sing aloud for joy, you who did not travail! For the children of the wife forlorn shall outnumber those of the married said the Lord' (Isa. 54:1) and culminating with reading Jeremiah 31:14-21) read on the Second Day of Rosh Hashanah.   

The centerpiece of the Book of Consolation is Jer. 31:14-21. Jeremiah hears Rachel's lament - 'a voice from Ramah . . . refusing to be comforted . . . a voice weeping for her children' (14) 37 and God responds (15-16). Jeremiah hears the response (17-18) with the voice of Ephraim. 38 God responds listening to Ephraim his dear child with boundless compassion. (19). Quoting that phrase in a midrash the Holy One calls Ephraim, my true Messiah' several times (Pesikta Rabbati 37.1). 39

The plea included the Judeans in addition to the Northern tribes (it seems highly likely that Jeremiah wrote this after the Judaen exile) as Jeremiah notes that Ramah where he and other exiles were held (Jer. 40:1).

Rachel becomes Israel's mother lamenting the destruction of the land and the exile of her children and a metaphor for their return.

In another Haftorah on certain Rosh Chodesh days (Rosh Chodesh is dedicated to women) we read:
'When she has not yet travailed, she has given birth; when the pang has not yet come to her, she has been delivered of a male child.  Who heard [anything] like this? Who saw [anything] like these? Is a land born in one day? Is a nation born at once, that Zion both experienced birth pangs and bore her children?  “Will I bring to the birth stool and not cause to give birth?" says the Lord. "Am I not He who causes to give birth, now should I shut the womb?" says your God. Rejoice with Jerusalem and exult in her all those who love her: rejoice with her a rejoicing, all who mourn over her.    In order that you suck and become sated from the breast of her  consolations in order that you drink deeply and delight from her  approaching glory.  For so says the Lord, "Behold, I will extend peace to you like a river, and like a flooding stream the wealth of the nations, and you shall suck thereof; on the side you shall be borne, and on knees you shall be dandled. Like a man whose mother consoles him, so will I console you, and in Jerusalem, you shall be consoled' (Isa. 66:7-13).

That Rachel has become our Immanu is clear. Her barrenness is not unique among the Matriarchs but the passionate love she and Jacob had for each other was. And then came her early death. Jeremiah added greatly to her image.

After the biblical period 'imma rachel - Mother Rachel' continued to be celebrated as a powerful intercessor for the people of Israel. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai said 'everything depended upon Rachel'. 40 Susan Sered compares the medieval development of the Mary, mother of Jesus cult developed at approximately the same time (12th- 13th century) as the cult of Rachel. In the Zohar Rachel is identified with Shekhina and exile. 41

Rachel's tomb has become a place of pilgrimage especially but not only for women.  Late medieval midrashic descriptions of pilgrimages began in the 12th century including one the earliest by Benjamin of Tudela (1170). 42 Rituals have been created such as a red string wrapped about the tomb seven times. This has evolved with mythical power (Jer. 31:16) with women taking this red string to near the Temple wall and giving them out as magical talisman. She has become a cult/saint figure symbol first of fertility and latter of Zionism and the Holocaust. 43

The extraordinary respect for Rachel can perhaps be strangely exemplified through a  Hebrew text written in the early 12th C. Spain, by an unknown author known only as Isaac entitled 'Ezrat HaNashim'. 44 This Isaac claims to be responding to an earlier Document by Judah ibn Shabbetai (both in Hebrew) entitled 'Minhat Yehudah sone Hanashi' – The offering of Judah, the Misogynist.  Isaac claims 'At the end of the work, the Patriarch Isaac (or his patron-angel) reinforces this idea that only a few exceptional women are worthy of praise. In comparing Rachel to his own wife, he says, “Never has there been, and never has there been seen a woman of valor like [Rachel], other than my own beloved [Rebekah], who is in her image and likeness.”'45 We noted earlier the possible connection between Rachel and Rebekah.


1    In a report quoted from a visitor to Rachel's tomb; Susan Starr Sered, 'A Tale of Three Rachels, of the Cultural Herstory of a Symbol', Nashim, 1998, pg. 17.
2    Ginzberg, Louis, 'Legends of the Jews' (Philadelphia, JPS, 1947) Vol.1, pg.359, in these Midrashim Leah and Rachel were twins, Vol. V, pg. 318.
3    Dresner, Samuel, 'Rachel' (Minneapolis, Fortress Press, 1994) pg. 34.
4    Ginzberg, Louis, Legends of the Bible, (Philadelphia, JPS, 1956) pg. 172.
5    Alter, Robert, 'Genesis,' (W.W. Norton, N.Y., 1996) pg. 45.
6    From lecture by Aviva Gottleib-Zornberg, on Nov. 23, 2009.
7    Karl Jung divided each human personality into two opposing halves - the light and the dark, the conscious and the unconscious, the inner and outer world. He called the conscious the persona or the ego and the unconscious the Shadow. The persona is the face presented to the world. The shadow is the negative or undeveloped side of the personality, that which the person attempts to deny. The more we deny the Shadow the more he will act on our demonic self. The Shadow is ‘a moral problem that challenges the whole personality’. Jung Karl, 'Collected Works', Vol. 9, Part II, pg. 8.
8      This thought develops out of the Torah commentary of the Sefat Emet, a nineteenth century Hasidic master. See Alter, Judah Aryeh Leib, 'The Language of Truth' The Torah Commentary' Trans. Arthur Green, (Philadelphia, JPS, 1998) pgs.122-126.
9    Perhaps Jacob recognizing that Leah revealed him to himself actually did hate her, but was unaware of his hatred. See Zornberg, Aviva, Gottlieb, 'The Murmuring Deep' (N.Y., Schocken, 2008) pg. 288-289.
10     Italics added from Rashi translation.
11    Jeansonne, S.P., 'The Women of Genesis' (Minneapolis, Fortress, 1990) pg. 77.
12    Susan Niditch, in 'Women's Bible commentary',  eds. S. H. Ringe and C.A. Newsom, (Louisville, Westminster, 1998) pg. 24
13    Jeansonne, pg. 81.
14     Targum Yonatan on Numbers 22:5, similarly in BT San 105a.
15    Josephus, Antiquites  I,xix.8
16    Greenberg, pg. 246-248.
17    Ginzberg, Legends/Bible, pg. 170.
18     Gordon, C.H., 'The Story of Jacob and Laban in Light of the NUZI Tablets' Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, 1937, #66, pgs. 25-27.
19    A.E. Draffkorn, 'Ilani-Elohim' JBL, 76, 1957, pg. 220, noted in Nuzi documents.
20     Rowley, H.H., 'The Servant of the Lord and Other Essays on the Old Testament, Recent Discovery and the Patriarchal Age', (London, Lutterworth Press, 1952) pg.302, quoted by Moshe Greenberg 'Rachel's Theft of the Teraphim, JBL, 1962, vol. 62, pg. 240.
21      Moshe Greenberg 'Rachel's Theft of the Teraphim', JBL, 1962, vol. 62, pg. 240, especially footnote 8.
22    Steinberg, Naomi, 'Kinship and Marriage in Genesis' (Minneapolis, Fortress Press, 1993) pg. 107.
23    Ktziah Spanier, 'Rachel's Theft of the Teraphim', VT 1992, pg. 405.
24    The midrash 'Pesikta de Rab Kahana' in his list of the barren women includes Leah suggesting she was destined to be barren but perhaps because she was hated God opened her womb (Trs. W.G. Braude and I.J. Kapstein, JPS, Philadelphia, 1975) Piska 20, pg. 331.
25    Kedushat Levi, pg. 53, quoted in Dresner, Rachel, pg. 71-72. Levi Yitzhak, the great Hassidic Rabbi is known to pray for his even or especially his more sinful villagers.   
26    Quoted in Dresner, pg. 59-60.
27    Fifteen copies have been found in the Dead Sea Scrolls.
28    Jewish Encyclopedia.
29    In the Pesikta de Rab Kahana the author explains the term 'krh' usually translated as barren comes from the Hebrew root 'ykrh' signifying first, pg. 332.
30    Dresner, pg. 60
31    Scholem Gershom, 'On the Kabbalah and its Symbolism' (N.Y., Schocken, 1972) pg. 149.
32     The connection of Rachel to Jacob and Leah to Israel is attested in a modern Hebrew song entitled 'I love Leah.'
33    Pardes, Ilana, 'Counter Traditions in the Bible' (Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1992) pg. 74.
34     This has an ironic comparison to Esau honoring his father (Ex.  20:12) .  
35    Benjamin D. Cox and Susan Ackerman, 'Rachel's Tomb' JBL Vol. 128, 2009, pgs. 135-148.
36    Quoted in Susan Starr Sered, Rachel's Tomb and the Milk Grotto of the Virgin Mary, Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, 1994, pg. 8.
37    In the Targum Jonathan the house of Israel and Jerusalem are weeping. In a later midrash (Seder Eliahu Rabba) the 'Ruah El', the spirit of God is weeping. Susan Starr Sered, 'Rachel's Tomb: The Development of a Cult', Jewish Studies Quarterly, Vol. 2, 1995,Sered, pg. 110); Sered even suggests that 'Ruah El' could be a theological comparison to the name Rachel (pg. 111, ft. 18)
38    We all know that Ephraim and Menassah are Rachel's grandchildren, the sons of Joseph.  Jacob compensates Rachel for having only two sons by adopting Joseph's sons. He then blesses first Ephraim and then Menassah, again reversing the primogeniture as he did by gaining his rights over his older bother Esau, as Abraham did with Isaac over Ishmael and as he did with Joseph over Reuben/Leah. He gives Joseph a double share as the first born. He makes them tribal leaders; one could argue that Joseph becomes a Patriarch. We still bless our sons to be as like Ephraim and Manasseh (Deut. 21:17). Ephraim latter becomes the leader of the Northern tribes.
39    Quoted in Dresner pg. 168
40    Dresner, pg. 163.
41       'Zohar : The Book of Splendor', selected and edited by Gershom Scholem.(N.Y., Schocken, 1975) 1:175a.
42    Sered, Rachel's Tomb pgs. 107-109.
43    Sered, Rachel's Tomb pg. 104.
44    The title is a play on the term in Genesis when God decided to create a woman to accompany the man  Adam  'ezer ke'negdo'. The term is very strange in Hebrew which can mean along side of him, opposite him, a counterpart to him, or even help against himself’. Rashi (the medieval commentator  1040-1105) suggests a worthy man will have a helper, an unworthy man one against him.
45    Quoted in Jill Jacobs, Jewish Theological Seminary of America"The Defense Has Become the Prosecution:" Ezrat HaNashim, a Thirteenth-century response to Misogyny, pg. 3; Jacob's believes this monograph is a parody of misogynism. See also Talya Fishman, Prooftexts, 8.1, 1988 and  Motti Huss ed., Minhat Yehudah, Ezrat Nashim, ve Ein Mishpat: Critical Editions, Hebrew, (Jerusalem, Hebrew University, 1991) pg. 103.