I am just loving this link-up – such a FUN way to read each other’s words, spend our own quiet time in the Bible, and then learn from each other!
If you’re new to Chasing History, welcome! I’m so glad you’re visiting, let’s be friends?
And then come back and tell us all about her – and you. Share how God is using a woman’s story from long ago to challenge you, teach you, or encourage you.
It doesn’t need to be fancy. It doesn’t need to be long. If you’ve read here any length of time, you know I ramble and I love details. So it should be no surprise that if I’m able to find out anything about a Story, I’m going to write. it. all. out.
Write however much you feel comfortable. This isn’t a bible study – this is community coming together to talk about Him and the Stories He has written.
What could be more beautiful? Let’s chase history together.
There’s a lot that could be said about Rachel and Leah, the wives of Jacob. Growing up, I always heard the story a certain way, with Rachel looking like the ‘good girl’ and Leah being the annoying, not so pretty ‘other wife.’ But it was pointed out to me recently that maybe the story is different than what I learned in Sunday School growing up.
I’m not going to cover everything about these two girls, but lets look at Genesis 29 and 30 together and see how Leah’s Story can encourage and challenge us.
We often read this story and feel bad for Rachel, unable to have children, and we dislike Leah. But there’s really not much in the story that shows Rachel loved Jacob. To me, it sure seems that Rachel wanted prestige and was caught up in a childbearing game. Leah, on the other hand, seemed to adore Jacob – even though he had eyes only for his other wife. But I’ll let you decide if that’s how you read the story, too. :)
- Leah marries Jacob, who is the son of Rebekah and Isaac
- Rachel also marries Jacob
- Leah and Rachel are sisters (Leah is older)
So, What Happened?
Remember from last week
that Jacob went to his Uncle Laban’s ‘house’ to escape the anger of Esau. While there, the Bible says he fell in love with Laban’s daughter Rachel, who was the second oldest. Jacob agreed to work for Laban for seven years – in exchange for Rachel as his wife.
It says that the seven years “seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.” After the seven years had passed, Jacob approached Laban and the feast began.
In this culture, there wasn’t really a wedding day – there was a wedding week, full of feasts and celebrations. When evening came, “Laban took his daughter Leah and gave her to Jacob, and Jacob lay with her.”
Can you even imagine the surprise on Jacob’s face when he realized the next morning?
Every time I read this story, though, I wonder: did he look at Leah with a look of disgust?
Because it doesn’t sound like Leah exactly wanted to marry Jacob. Can you imagine the family drama? Jacob, furious. Leah, broken. Rachel, devastated. Laban, pleased that his plan worked.
I also wonder how they got away with it, but it’s incredibly likely that Jacob was very drunk from the feast. There was no electricity back then, and Leah might have been wearing a veil as well. Either way, Jacob has been tricked just as he tricked his brother, Esau.
Isn’t it interesting that Laban and Rebekah
, who are siblings, are the ones tricking their family members? Makes you wonder how they were raised.
Jacob goes to Laban and asks why he deceived him and replaced Rachel with Leah. Laban gives the excuse that is wasn’t in their custom to have the younger daughter married before the oldest. He tells Jacob to finish the bridal week and then he may marry Rachel – but, he must work seven more years after this second wedding.
Jacob complies and after a week, he marries the girl he fell in love with. One week, two weddings. One guy, two sisters. Can you even imagine the tension in that household? It’s not like Jacob loved Rachel and grew to love Leah just as much. No, the Bible says, “Jacob lay with Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah.”
I always wonder why Leah consented to marrying Jacob. In that culture, women were objects. They were like animals, really, and could be traded, sold, married, etc. if their father said so. Really, Leah probably had no choice. I doubt she wanted to cause the trouble with her sister, and she knew Jacob didn’t love her. But maybe, just maybe, she also knew this was her only shot at a husband. And in those days, there wasn’t much worse than being a single woman or a widow.
It says the Lord saw that Leah wasn’t loved, so he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. Rachel becomes the third in a line of women that were barren: Sarai (Sarah)
Leah’s first born is a son named Reuben. Her second son is named Simeon, and her third son is named Levi.
In those days, your name had significant meaning. Let’s look at what each sons name meant.
Reuben: He has seen my misery; see, a son
Simeon: one who hears
With each son, we can see what Leah is hoping for. It says that after Reuben was born, Leah said, “the Lord has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.” She was starving for his love, but he kept loving Rachel. After Simeon was born, Leah said, “Because the Lord heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too.” She knew God heard her, but still wanted Jacob’s attention. After Levi was born, Leah said, “Now at last my husband will become attached to me.”
It’s clear what was going on here. With each new baby boy, Leah was providing Jacob with a legacy – men to carry on the family name. Rachel remained barren, and Leah kept thinking “if I just do this, he’ll love me.”
Another baby boy came and Leah named him Judah. This is where we see Leah’s heart attitude shift. Judah means praise, and Leah says, “This time I will praise the Lord.”
She let go of the worries and the striving for attention and affection. I doubt that she gave up wanting it, but she realized that no matter what came, the Lord would be by her side. When you’ve worked so hard for something and it doesn’t come, raise your hands and praise. When the one who love most cuts you real deep, sing to Him. When the valleys are low and each day is a struggle, continue to stand in worship and praise the Lord who made the valleys and will carry you to the mountain top.
The story doesn’t end there, because Rachel is incredibly jealous and gives her maidservant to Jacob – just like Sarai (Sarah)
gave hers to Abram (Abraham). Her maidservant bore two sons and Leah reverted back to her old self and tried to gain Jacob’s favor. She gave her maidservant as well, who bore Jacob two sons. Soon, Leah became pregnant again and two more sons were added into the family.
A quick recap:
Leah: 6 sons
Leah’s maidservant: 2 sons
Rachel’s maidservant: 2 sons
Rachel: no children at all
And still, isn’t it interesting that Jacob loved Rachel the most. Eventually, the Lord listens to Rachel’s pleas and she has two sons. Her first born son is named Joseph and Rachel says, “May the Lord add to me another son.” Finally, she gets what she’s been wanting – but it isn’t enough. She isn’t satisfied and just wants more.
What Does This Mean For Me?
Oh y’all…I do this all the time. I’m Rachel, begging and pleading for ‘just this one thing’ and then when He blesses me with it, it’s no longer a big deal because I’m already reaching for just a little bit more. One more good friend, a little better of a test grade, one more rung climbed.
Sometimes I’m Leah, doing whatever I think it will take to gain someone’s affection. I want people to notice me. I want them to see my accomplishments and read my words. Someone, anyone, know me. So I do what I think it will take and over and over, I think “finally, this will be enough. I’ll finally be good enough for them.”
It’s never enough.
Nothing we do will ever be enough to fully gain what we want from a human being, but nothing we do will ever be enough to lose the consistent, faithful love of our Heavenly Father.
Whichever side you see yourself on, whether you’re never satisfied with “one more thing,” or whether you don’t feel like you’re good enough/smart enough/funny enough/beautiful enough, know that your Heavenly Father sees your Story.