I was looking through the Bible for stories addressing women’s issues, specifically, positive and negative examples of our relationships. I want to do series of short plays, or a reader’s theatre, and present the stories in a relevant, yet respectful manner. I found plenty of examples, and noted the ones that fit what I want to do. One such account, the love story of Jacob and Rachel, caught my attention, because of the dialogue between Rachel, and her sister, Leah.

Even though I’ve read the story many times about the rivalry between the two, I never realized just how hilarious their behavior was until I started researching material for this project. Here’s a little background.

During that time, where they lived, polygamy was a common cultural practice. Jacob had nothing to “bring to the table”, so to speak, to ask Laban for Rachel’s hand in marriage, so he worked for Laban seven years (how’s that for proving your love?).  He finished his time-but Laban changed his mind. He gave Jacob his daughter Leah instead, because the practice in their country was to give away in marriage the older daughter before the younger daughter. But Laban told him he could have Rachel-if he worked for him another seven years. Jacob did just that!

During this time, Jacob had sons by Leah; sadly, Rachel his true love, could not have any children.

This is where the funny part begins for me, and the dialogue I will use to build a great story to show just how far sibling rivalry can go.

Jacob’s fourteen years of labor netted him two wives, sons, many cattle-actually, all that Laban had-now belonged to Jacob. Obviously, this changed Laban’s feelings toward Jacob, so he told Jacob to leave with his wives, children, animals, and all for which he’d worked. Beautiful irony!

Now here’s how the sisters’ rivalry goes:

Leah gives Jacob a first-born son (Reuben). She births another son (Simeon). Conceives yet a third son (Levi); and a fourth son is born (Judah).

Rachel has no children. She becomes jealous of Leah. She tells Jacob to give her children or she’ll die.

Jacob gets angry with Rachel; after all, he’s not a breeder.

Rachel offers Jacob her handmaid Bilhah as a surrogate to give her a child. Bilhah bares not one, but two sons (Dan & Naphtali).

Leah sees she’s not getting pregnant, so she gives Jacob her handmaid Zilpah to have a child. Zilpah births a son (Gad). And another son (Asher).

Leah’s son Reuben brings mandrakes to her from the wheat harvest. Rachel wants them. Leah tells her you took away my husband, and now you want to take my son’s mandrakes? Soooo…Rachel tells Leah Jacob can sleep with her tonight for Reuben’s mandrakes. Jacob obliged after Leah explains the deal Rachel made with her (He’d just come from working in the field that evening, poor fellow).

Leah gives Jacob sons five & six (Issachar & Zebulon). Then she births Dinah, a girl. She’s finished childbearing.

Now Rachel gives birth to Joseph. Rachel finishes childbearing.

It appears that the rivalry between the two sisters has finished, as no further references are mentioned. This account is found is Genesis 29 & 30.

Again, my purpose for producing these series is to show the different relationships that we, as women, have with one another, both good and bad, with their natural consequences. The goal is to recognize that we must, as sisters, mothers, daughters, etc., make a conscious decision to act on the principle to love and care for each other, so that envies, jealousies, and rivalries find no home in our hearts, our lives, and our children’s lives.

So, what modern versions can be done with this story? I’m open to suggestions, and I appreciate your input, insights, discoveries, etc.

 

 

 

 

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