Was Leah an Unloved Woman?
It is sometimes referred to as the love triangle of the Bible. Two sisters, Leah and Rachel, in love with the same man.
According to the Book of Genesis, Jacob met Rachel first and, overwhelmed by her beauty, fell in love upon seeing her. He worked for her father, his uncle Laban, for seven years so that he could marry Rachel and then, when he believed his wish was fulfilled, he found that Laban had tricked him and instead of giving him Rachel to wife, Laban had given him her older sister, Leah instead. (Genesis 29)
The one physical description we know of Leah is that she was 'tender-eyed' and while there is much dispute about whether that means her eyes were her only redeeming quality or that her eyes were unremarkable, all seem to agree that Leah was not in the same category of beauty as Rachel.
Both Leah and Rachel struggle in their marriages to Jacob. Jacob loves Rachel more than Leah and Leah is the one who successfully bears him children for some time.
The Bible says that when the Lord saw that Leah was hated, He opened her womb. (Genesis 29:31). She named her first born son Reuben because the Lord saw her affliction and,'now therefore my husband will love me.' (Genesis 29:32)
After each son borne to her, Leah said that God had given her a son. When her fourth son was born she said, 'Now I will praise the Lord.' and called him Judah. The Bible says that after this she stopped bearing children.
Thus began a bitter rivalry between siblings so much so that Rachel told Jacob she would die if she did not have children. Between the two of them, and their maids Bilhah and Zilpah, Jacob would have twelve sons and one daughter, Dinah.
Jacob at the well with Rachel
The Bible clearly says that when God saw that Leah was hated he gave her a son. This hate was not hate as we call it but indifference. Jacob was not moved by Leah and she did not receive his attention as Rachel did, therefore she was hated.
This same type of hate was expressed by God towards Esau, Jacob's twin brother. (Romans 9:13) God was indifferent towards Esau but showed favour to Jacob.
I suppose you could call this hatred a result of favouritism. God favoured Jacob and Jacob favoured Rachel.
This series of events is what causes many people to this day to look at Leah with a bit of pity and wonder what it would have been like to live daily with the knowledge that she would never be loved by her husband the way that her husband loved Rachel.
I confess that I was among those who always felt sorry for Leah when I read about her life and for many years Jacob's indifference towards her was all I could see.
Then I saw that Jacob's indifference, in this case, was a blessing because this indifference magnified a great love.
One might think that Leah started off her married life with trickery but in reality, Leah started married life with obedience. She obeyed her father and married Jacob as he told her to do. There is no doubt that she would have known that Jacob loved Rachel. Jacob had publicly asked for her hand and perhaps Leah loved Jacob (I believe strongly that she did) but it would be a very difficult to purposefully enter into marriage with a man you knew loved your sister.
Yet she did it because her father had said so.
After she had married, God gave quickly gave her a son and she would go on to bear six sons herself, along with one daughter. This was a great blessing that God bestowed on her.
Each time she prayed, God would answer her prayer and she would bear a son.
Each time she bore a son she would hope that her husband would begin to love her as he loved her sister.
God did not hesitate in answering her prayers.
All of her children's names gave God glory but her fourth son's name, Judah, meant praise. It was from the line of Judah, King David would come and from the line of David that Jesus the Messiah would come. He would glorify the name of God forever.
Could there be better evidence to show that Leah was loved by God?
I think not.
The gifts given to her were priceless.
Which love was better to have? Jacob's or God's?
The love of a spouse is, admittedly, a fine thing, but it is but a shadow of the love that can exist between God and His people.
Leah experienced that love first-hand and from now on, when I read her story, I will no longer feel sorry for her but wonder at the good gifts God gave to her.
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