By SHARON K. GILBERT
January 27, 2009
ACCORDING to a YNET News article, published January 25, 2009, two prominent Jewish rabbis, Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu and Rabbi Ovadia Yosef claim that a mysterious woman who reportedly appeared to IDF soldiers in Gaza is none other than Jacob’s wife, Rachel.
The story goes like this: During the days just before the ‘cease-fire’, IDF soldiers arrived at a house in Gaza, and were about to enter. Unknown to the soldiers, the house contained terrorists, and these same terrorists had booby-trapped the entrance.
“And then a beautiful young woman appeared before them and warned: Don’t enter the house, there are terrorists there, be careful.
– “Who are you?”
– “What do you care who I am,” she said, and whispered – “Rachel.”
A centuries old tradition exists in some Jewish circles that Rachel acts as a mediatrix of sorts between Jews and God. Because Rachel showed humility in permitting her older (and some claim ‘twin’) sister, Leah to marry first, it is said that God grants Rachel access beyond that given to even Abraham or Moses.
In Genesis, we read of the love story between Jacob and Rachel, and of how Rachel’s father Laban tricked Jacob into marrying Rachel’s older sister, Leah. Jacob was forced to work a total of fourteen years for Laban–seven to pay for Leah and seven to pay for Rachel–and then six additional years to receive his wages in livestock.
Laban, however, still does not want to release Jacob, claiming that all of Jacob’s wealth, including his children, actually belong to him (Laban).
So it is, that one day, when Laban leaves for the fields, Jacob gathers up his family and all his goods, and they hastily make tracks out of Syria. However, unknown to Jacob, Rachel has stolen her father’s household gods. Oops.
Laban is furious when he finds Jacob, et al. gone, and he rushes after them. That night, God Himself, appears to Laban in a dream and warns him against doing any harm to Jacob. So, when Laban catches up to his son-in-law, he simply complains that by stealing away without a word, Jacob had missed out on a big going-away party. And, oh, yeah, ‘How come you stole my gods, huh?’
The news about the stolen gods (statuettes, idols) surprises Jacob, and he proclaims that anyone found with the ‘gods’ must surely die. Jacob had no idea that he had just pronounced a sentence on his beloved wife, Rachel. Rachel hides the statues from her father, and Laban leaves (most likely grumbling the whole way).
Some time later–unspecified, but probably not long after–Jacob heads up to Bethel, where God appears to Him and tells Jacob to put away all of the Syrian gods before traveling further (Bethel means ‘house of God’). The scriptures do not tell us if these ‘gods’ were the same ones Rachel had stolen, but it can be assumed that at least some of them were. Perhaps, others in the party had brought ‘gods’ with them. Jacob, no doubt, had lots of herdsmen and servants, all raised to worship the Syrian ‘gods’.
Remember how Jacob had said the ‘gods’ thief would die? It is on this journey that Rachel dies giving birth to Benjamin, her second child. Jacob lovingly buries her on this very road, leaving her behind as he and the rest of his family and servants travel on. Legend says each son left a rock on Rachel’s grave, forming a cairn of twelve stones (we’re assuming Jacob put one on for Benjamin). This memorial of stones remained over the centuries, marking the place where ‘Mother Rachel’ lay.
Rabbis teach that Rachel was buried on the road to Bethlehem so that she would be able to weep and intercede for those who travel, for women in labor or who were barren. And for the children of Israel. The humble pile of stones was covered over with a beautiful edifice in 1841 by Sir Moses Haim Montefiore, a Jewish baronet who once served as Sheriff of London. It is this site that is considered the second most holy site in Israel, after the Wailing Wall.
‘Mother Rachel’ is said to intercede with God for her children, weeping great tears as she does so. Rabbi Eliyahu is reported to have left his hospital bed and journeyed to this holy site to pray for the IDF soldiers:
“Yes, it is true. I told her, I told Rachel there is a war, don’t stop yourself from crying, go before the Holy one blessed be He, pray for the soldiers that dedicate their souls for the people of Israel, that they may strike and not be stricken.”
It’s most interesting that Rachel seems to fulfill a similar role in Jewish tradition as Mary fulfills in Catholic tradition. Both women weep, both intercede, both move God to act. And now, it appears, both sometimes intervene personally–and are ‘seen’ by humans. But if the soldiers actually saw an apparition of a woman, is it the true Rachel of the Bible that they saw?
The Bible makes it clear that only Jesus Christ (Yeshua ha Meshiach) serves as mediator between man and God. Whether or not you believe in apparitions, this much is clear. Neither Rachel nor Mary, nor any other human who has passed on, save Jesus the Son, has that power.
Do humans sometimes ‘see’ dead loved ones? Yes. Absolutely. Are these visions true–is the vision of the true person? No. However, demons and fallen angels have the ability to appear in a variety of forms. Sometimes, they take the form of an alien ‘gray’. Sometimes, they appear as a beast, such as a ‘vampire’ or a ‘werewolf’. Most often, they take the pleasing shape of a man or woman, one that we know or want to know (sexual enticements from these creatures has been taking place since Genesis 6, if not before).
Do all ‘apparitions’ bode evil? No, not necessarily. Angelic messengers sent by God can appear as humans as well. But note this: all recorded angelic sightings in scripture indicate a ‘male’ appearance. Not female. And these angelic messengers never permit worship from the humans who see them. This doesn’t preclude God’s sending a messenger in ‘female’ form, for God is capable of all things. However, there is no Biblical record of such an event. Remember, angels in their natural ‘estate’ are neither male nor female. Such a gender form is for our benefit.
So who appeared to the soldiers in Gaza, assuming the story is even true? That is the sixty-four thousand dollar question. Two rabbis insist it was ‘Mother Rachel’. Rachel, who ‘weeps’, just as another female deity wept: Semiramis. Statues of this ‘wife of Nimrod’ are shown weeping for Tammuz, her son, killed by a wild boar. In fact, there are indications that ‘Lent’ has roots in this traditional period of weeping over the death of Tammuz.
In Ezekiel 8:14, we read:
Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the LORD’S house which [was] toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz.
Isn’t it ironic that Rachel, who is revered by the Jews as their mediatrix–the Rachel who weeps for her children–is the one who stole her father’s gods–gods that may well have included statues of Semiramis (under the name Astarte) and Tammuz?
As we draw closer and closer to the return of Christ to rule the earth and mankind, we can expect more and more ‘apparitions’ to appear all over the globe. Some may claim to be Rachel. Others may claim to be Mary. Some may say they are dead loved ones. Some may even claim to be Christ Himself. But our Lord has warned us to keep our eyes lifted up, for it is from the throne of heaven that our redemption will come. Jesus Christ stands ready to return. Are you prepared? Do you know Him as Savior and King?
Choose Christ today. Tomorrow may be too late.