Rachel has been plaguing me a bit the last few days. She stole her father Laban’s idol when she left her father’s house with Jacob. I think the presumption is that she stole the idol to keep her father from worshipping idols. I’ve read a bit of commentary and that’s what people like to think. There’s another notion that she stole the idol because it had magic powers and might lead her father to find Jacob, his wives, children and livestock after they left. (I also don’t really get why Jacob felt he had to leave in secrecy…he had worked more years that he’d promised Laban and it sounds like he did a really good job.)
I wonder if there wasn’t another reason all together. Rachel was raised by Laban who worshipped idols, like most people at that time. Then she met Jacob, who essentially moved into her life. He already believed in one God, but he was surrounded by people who had been raised with very different beliefs. So when Rachel left with Jacob (and the whole rest of the crowd), it must have been a little disconcerting for her to leave the life and family and belief system she had known for so long. Maybe she took the idol because she wasn’t yet convinced about Jacob’s one God. Or maybe she wanted something of her father’s to keep her company. Or maybe, in fact, she wanted her father to come looking and find her. Maybe she wasn’t totally committed to Jacob or was worried that he wasn’t totally committed to her (what with all her trouble bearing children). Maybe she was concerned that her own beauty and Jacob’s lust might not be enough to sustain their relationship. Maybe she was a daddy’s girl and couldn’t let go….