1. Rachel’s story is set in Harran in 1879 BC and begins by showing us the dysfunctional relationship between Rachel and Leah. What two main factors add to the rift between them? (Look at their birth order and marital status.) How does this set the stage for the rest of the story?
2. In chapter 2, Jacob is on the run from his brother, who wants to kill him, and is in search of his uncle Laban’s home, where he is also hoping to find a wife. What happens when he meets Rachel? Do you believe this is a picture of love at first sight or simply overwhelming relief and attraction? Why?
Why do you think Jacob becomes so emotional upon seeing Rachel? Do you think Rachel thought Jacob’s actions strange? Why or why not?
3. Jacob finally meets his uncle and tells the man his story. What thoughts do you think cross Laban’s mind when he notices how little Jacob brought with him? How does this compare with the wealth Abraham sent with his servant when Laban’s sister Rebekah went with the man to marry Isaac? Have you ever judged a person by their wealth or lack thereof? What was the result?
4. When Jacob has been with Laban a month, Laban offers to pay his wages. What does Jacob request? How do you think this makes Leah—the older, unmarried sister—feel? Have you ever felt left out or unwanted? How did you respond?
5. In chapter 4, Jacob has completed his work for Laban and wants to marry Rachel. By now Rachel has been planning her wedding for seven years. What happens to thwart her long-awaited plans? Have you ever faced a reversal so devastating? How did you handle it?
6. Why do you think Laban waited so long to find a husband for Leah? Comparing the biblical account (Gen. 29) with the fictional story, do you think Leah’s actions and reactions are plausible? Have you ever been backed into a corner, faced with two impossible choices?
7. Rachel is denied her wedding night, denied being the only wife of one man who wanted only her, and denied children while her unwanted sister has several. Can you imagine living in her place? Have you ever faced constant rejection or been denied the only things you held dear? What did you do about it?
8. Once Jacob becomes aware of the truth of who first shared his bed, what is his reaction? Why do you think he goes along with Laban’s demands to finish Leah’s wedding week? Do you think he has a choice? Should he have put Leah aside if he could have? Why or why not?
9. Leah is technically the first wife in this polygamous household, and yet Rachel holds Jacob’s heart; therefore, she takes the role that should have belonged to her. What impact does that action have on Jacob’s relationship with Leah? With Rachel? Do you think Leah ever regretted marrying a man who did not love her?
10. Jacob works for Laban for fourteen years to acquire two brides. During that time, a battle for babies ensues between Rachel and Leah. By the end of those years, Jacob has four wives and ten sons by Leah, Bilhah, and Zilpah. Rachel is the last to finally bear Jacob a son.
Have you ever been in a heated competition with someone? A spouse? A sibling? A child? Try to imagine such a situation today, perhaps not to have babies but to succeed, to be the best, to outdo someone else and their abilities. Does such competition bring you peace? Why or why not? What does such competition do to your relationships?