Frederick Goodall explored the Biblical story of Rachel repeatedly in his work. In 1867 he exhibited Rachel at The Royal Academy and eight years later he submitted Rachel and her Flock. He returned to the subject in his 1893 Royal Academy entry of the same title and, finally, in 1895 with his entry Rachel as first seen by Jacob. Another version of the tale, Rachel by a Fountain, hangs in Melbourne.
In our 1875 Royal Academy entry, Rachel and her Flock, Goodall depicts the story of Rachel at the moment just before she meets Jacob: "And, behold, Rachel his daughter cometh with the sheep." Rachel and Leah were daughters of Laban. Rachel, the younger of the two, was graceful and beautiful and is often understood to personify a contemplative type by Biblical scholars. Seen in the painting on her way to water her father's sheep at the well, Goodall's Rachel exemplifies all of those qualities. At the well she was assisted by Jacob who "kissed Rachel and is moved to tears." In return for Rachel's hand in marriage, Jacob undertook to serve Laban for seven years; at the end of that period, however, Laban tricked him and substituted Leah in place of Rachel so that Jacob must serve another seven years before marrying her.