Genesis 35:19. So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). Over her tomb Jacob set up apillar, and to this day that pillar marks Rachel's tomb.
Welcome My name is Emma Brown.
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 somethingout 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.
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.
- By El Ágora (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
- 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 Leahcarrying 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 descendants 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.