7 And as for me, when I came from Padan, Rachel died by me in the land of Canaan in the way, when yet there was but a little way to come unto Ephrath: and I buried her there in the way of Ephrath; the same is Beth-lehem.

This is a very unusual verse. Jacob was just talking about giving an extra inheritance to the sons of Joseph, and immediately following he’s going to pronounce a blessing upon those two sons. So why this sudden interruption where he recounts the death of his wife Rachel?

Some have suggested this is a way for him to give justification for the extra inheritance to Joseph. Since Rachel died prematurely, there was no opportunity for her to give birth to other sons that might have received. But honestly, this theory seems like a stretch of logic to me. There is nothing in this verse to signify that this is Jacob’s intent at all in bringing Rachel up.

Others have noted that Jacob emphasizes the place where Rachel was buried, which reminds us of last chapter, where he made Joseph swear that he would bury him in the land of Canaan. Perhaps this verse was originally included as part of that conversation, but through different translations and compilations got shifted here instead.

Or, if not that, the other possibility that occurs to me is that this is the result of a senile mind. Jacob might have momentarily lost the thread of the conversation, lost within his own memories and grief, only to return to the present moment and continue as though nothing happened. If this is the case, then it is a sign of just how profoundly the loss of Rachel impacted Jacob, a trauma that is ever close the fore in his mind, overcoming him at random from time to time.

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