From the Hebrew name רָחֵל (Rachel)
meaning "ewe". In the Old Testament
this is the name of the favourite wife of Jacob
and the mother of Joseph
. She was the younger sister of Jacob's first wife Leah
The name was common among Jews in the Middle Ages, but it was not generally used as a Christian name in the English-speaking world until after the Protestant Reformation
. A notable bearer was the American conservationist Rachel Carson (1907-1964).