Rachel was the younger daughter of Laban, sister of Leah, and the second wife of Jacob. Jacob first met Rachel by a water well on his way to his ancestral homeland as he fled the murderous wrath of his brother Esau. On discovering that he was seeking her father, Rachel hastened to take him home to meet Laban, who was delighted to receive Jacob, the son of his sister Rebekah.
It wasn't long before Jacob fell in love with Rachel and told Laban he wanted to marry her.
Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, "I'll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel." Laban said, "It's better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me." So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her. (Genesis 29:18-20)
But Jacob wasn't to have her - yet. Laban switched daughters on the wedding night, saying that it was custom for the older daughter to be wed first, but he could still get married to Rachel if Jacob served him another seven years.
The Bible doesn't say if these seven years also seemed like only a few days, but nevertheless, they passed and this time he secured Rachel as his wife. Unlike her sister Leah, Rachel struggled to bear him children. Finally, in desperation she presented her handmaid Bilhah to Jacob to bear children in her stead. According to tradition, if a woman was barren, she could have her maid produce children who would legally be considered hers. Bilhah gave birth to Dan and Naphtali [see the Twelve Tribes of Israel]. Eventually Rachel bore two sons: Joseph and Benjamin. She died giving birth to Benjamin and was buried near Bethlehem.
Over her tomb Jacob set up a pillar, and to this day that pillar marks Rachel's tomb.
Her sepulchre is still regarded with great veneration by the Jews. Its traditional site is about half a mile from Jerusalem. Her name is used poetically by Jeremiah (31:15-17) to denote God's people mourning under their calamities. This passage is also quoted by Matthew as fulfilled in the lamentation at Bethlehem on account of the slaughter of the infants there at the command of Herod (Matt. 2:17, 18).