The Red Tent

by: Anita Diamant

Rachel

Among her sisters, Rachel stands out initially for her beauty, her magnetism, and her magical water smell. “Their father, Laban, treats her most gently; as a result, she ends up somewhat spoiled and conniving. She is fully aware of the power her beauty has over others and is quite willing to use it. She insists on having Jacob when she meets him, though she is not yet marriageable and would embarrass her two older sisters by marrying first. Then she shows herself to be deceptive as well, agreeing to let Leah replace her under the bridal veil.

Rachel’s jealous nature flourishes when Leah conceives and bears several healthy sons in a row and Rachel remains barren. Rachel is not satisfied with being Jacob’s favorite wife—she needs more. She compensates for Leah’s fertility by seeking out the calling of midwife and finds that she is extremely talented. Her new skills help heal her relationship with her sister, though Rachel is not satisfied until she bears her own son.

Rachel changes significantly with the birth of her son and her growing success as a midwife. She finds a softer, more maternal side in her personality and begins to cultivate a more peaceful relationship with her sister. She takes delight in her niece, and, through Dinah, her relationship with Leah improves further. She acts as a midwife mentor to Dinah. Although Rachel improves significantly with age and is a talented midwife and healer, she remains primarily a jealous and unhappy woman.