"Where I was sitting with the ancient Rachel"

Rachel and Jacob
Public DomainRachel and Jacob - Credit: James Tissot

(Canto 2, line 102)

Rachel, according to Genesis chapters 29-35, was the second daughter of Laban. Both she and her older sister Leah became wives of Jacob. Traditionally, Rachel is a symbol of the "contemplative life", while her sister Leah represents the "active life". Rachel died in childbirth and was buried close to Bethlehem, where Jacob set a pillar. A building proposed to be the very site is still frequented by religious Jews.