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Leah the Unchosen Wife

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Poor Leah. While we experience righteous indignation at Jacob and Rachel being tricked, we cannot help but feel sorry for Leah. Though her father was supposedly looking out for her best interests by putting her in Rachel’s place as wife to Jacob, she had to know that she would never be first in Jacob’s heart. Although she must have been at least willing to be part of this deceit, she could have also been just being an obedient daughter. I am sure she did not look forward to being considered the “old maid” of the family because she was the older daughter. She probably felt like she would not have much chance finding a suitable husband in the short-term.

Of course, had Leah’s father been obedient to God’s plan for marriage being one man-one woman, this would never have had to happen in the first place. Had he truly been a faithful servant of God, he would have went to Jehovah and trusted Him to bring a husband for Leah. But alas, another story for another time.

The Bible describes Leah as having “tender” or “weak” eyes – Genesis 29:17 “Leah was tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favoured.” This could infer that she had poor eyesight, but as I read “but Rachel was beautiful…” I am inclined to think that Leah was more plain looking compared to Rachel. As time went on, she grew to love Jacob and became a devoted wife throughout their marriage, even though her soul must have withered knowing that she was a disappointment and scorn to him, as well as being the tool that her scheming father used to get both of his daughters married off.

Leah lived with the constant comparison to her unusually beautiful sister, but she was nevertheless, not ever hidden from God’s caring eyes. In God’s all-knowing wisdom, He allowed her to conceive while he made Rachel’s womb temporarily barren. Though Leah had the honor of mothering Jacob’s oldest son, she wrongly assumed that it would earn her her husband’s love – Genesis 29:32 “And Leah conceived, and bare a son, and she called his name Reuben: for she said, Surely the LORD hath looked upon my affliction; now therefore my husband will love me.” (I have seen women strive to become pregnant to save their marriage, but instead they usually end up dealing with much heartache.)

Leah faced her second childbirth more realistically, but apparently a deep desire still gnawed at her – Genesis 29:33 “And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Because the LORD hath heard I was hated, he hath therefore given me this son also: and she called his name Simeon.” Then she exclaimed with her third pregnancy “Now this time will my husband be joined unto me.” (Verse 34) She never completely gave up on her hope and longing for her husband to return her love. What a sad state of affairs to have to live through.

She had begun her marriage by focusing on what she lacked and feeling miserable, but she changed her heart and focus to what God had given her as she determined to praise the Lord. Leah did not really learn to trust Yahweh until the birth of her fourth son, Judah. Genesis 29:35 “And she conceived again, and bare a son: and she said, Now will I praise the LORD: therefore she called his name Judah; and left bearing.” If we trace the Messianic Lineage, we can rejoice with Leah as her faithfulness was rewarded. “The Lion of the tribe of Judah,” Jesus the Messiah, came through her offspring, Judah, and the priesthood through her son, Levi. Revelation 5:5 “And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.”

Leah embodied for every woman our crucial need to live primarily for God and his glory. Though she may have been unattractive in appearance, unloved, unwanted, and even despised, God saw her inner beauty which equipped her to carry out his plan – Genesis 29:31 “And when the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren.” She could not change Jacob, but she could change herself and recognize God’s hand in her life – Genesis 30:13 “And Leah said, Happy am I, for the daughters will call me blessed: and she called his name Asher.” She did not let the attitudes of others distract her from the task God had given her, as he turned all the wrong choices that were made on her behalf into part of His wondrous plan for the Hebrew Nation.

There are times in our lives when things happen to us that we see as unfair, but God is faithful and He always turns them around for His purpose and, of course, to make us the better for them. There have been times in my life that I have made very bad choices and faced some dire consequences, but every one of them I have seen God turn to good for His glory and for growing me to be more like Jesus.

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2018 in God's Love

 

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Rachel – an Honored daughter of Yahweh

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The name Rachel means ewe-a female sheep. Gee I’m not sure I would appreciate that, but, she was a shepherdess caring for her father’s sheep in Haran when an unexpected visitor appeared. Her cousin, Jacob, was looking for his family, and he ran smack dab into them. It seems he was hit by the “love at first sight” bug. Genesis 29:10-12 “And it came to pass, when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, that Jacob went near, and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother. And Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice, and wept. And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father’s brother, and that he was Rebekah’s son: and she ran and told her father.” It also seems as though Rachel was quite smitten with Jacob.

Jacob had agreed with Rachel’s father, Laban, to work for seven years to earn the right to ask for the hand of the beautiful shepherdess – Genesis 29:20 “And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.” According to local tradition, the wedding ceremony proceeded, allowing the men to celebrate, while keeping the bride out of sight until the groom entered her darkened tent.

Only after it was too late, did Jacob realize that Laban had deceived him. He had actually married Laban’s older daughter, Leah, whom he did not love. But, here we see how “what comes around goes around.” He now knows what it feels like to be deceived as he had deceived his father and brother. But, alas, another story for another time. A week after their marriage, Jacob received Rachel as his wife. It must have been agony for Rachel after having waited those seven years, only to have her dreams dashed by her father’s trickery. The rivalry and jealousy between Rachel and Leah, and perhaps a desire on Rachel’s part for retaliation against her father for his deception must have put a tremendous strain on the family.

To add insult to injury, Rachel was unable to bear children! Genesis 29:31 “And when the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren.” Okay, so God had compassion on Leah because Jacob loved Rachel more. Had I been in Rachel’s shoes, I would have had a very hard time with that. It is not hard to understand the jealousy she must have felt. At the same time, it would have been far better for them all had Rachel put her full trust in the LORD. Instead, she first blamed her husband, and then she allowed her maid to bear children for her. Genesis 30:1-5 “And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die. And Jacob’s anger was kindled against Rachel: and he said, Am I in God’s stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb?
And she said, Behold my maid Bilhah, go in unto her; and she shall bear upon my knees, that I may also have children by her. And she gave him Bilhah her handmaid to wife: and Jacob went in unto her. And Bilhah conceived, and bare Jacob a son.” Now I know I could never have done that, but it was a different culture than what I know.

Rachel finally did become pregnant and gave birth to Joseph, who became Jacob’s favorite (and that’s another story for another time ;-).) – Genesis 30:22-24 “And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb. And she conceived, and bare a son; and said, God hath taken away my reproach: And she called his name Joseph; and said, The LORD shall add to me another son.”

In due time, Jacob decided to return to his homeland. After Jacob’s departure, Laban found his household gods missing. Jacob did not know that Rachel had put the gods in her saddlebags, then sat on top of them astride the camel. When Jacob gave Laban permission to search through their belongings, Rachel pleaded weakness because of her menstrual cycle, and she did not dismount from her camel. It was believed that whatever a menstruating woman sat upon was unclean, so of course they did not make her move.

Some believe that those small idols Rachel had stolen from her father were customarily kept in their homes, and were essential evidence for a claim to the family inheritance. But, some also believe that Rachel was a secret believer in pagan superstitions. If this were true, she would have believed that the images would give her and her family safety in their travels and prosperity in their new home.

So, the family returned to Jacob’s homeland, but sometime later, when they were moving again, Rachel became pregnant with Benjamin. The travel in the hilly country was difficult under any circumstances, but it would have been very hard on a woman far along with child. As they approached Ephrath (Bethlehem), Rachel went into hard labor and died while giving birth. She was buried there in Bethlehem – Genesis 35:19 “And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem.”

Rachel was a woman greatly loved by her husband, and she gave the world two outstanding sons. Despite her flaws, she stands as an honored daughter of Yahweh. It just goes to show how much God loves us all, even in spite of our wrong choices we may make in our journey in this world. He knows that each of us must go through trials and testings on the road to knowing Him more and coming to the point of total surrender and obedience.

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2018 in Women of the Bible

 

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