Leah: The Unloved Wife
We all know the story. Jacob took one look at Rachel and it was love at first sight. Having nothing to offer, he told Laban he would work seven years for her hand in marriage (Genesis 29:18).
The years felt like days to Jacob (Genesis 29:20) and soon it was time for the big day. A great wedding feast was kept at the end of which Jacob, with great excitement, consummated his marriage.
But it was the wrong bride! Laban, that trickster had given him Leah instead. Oh, the horror! Seven years wasted! Because of his reaction Laban agreed that for another seven years, Jacob could marry Rachel as well.
We are told in Genesis 29:30 that Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah. And this is where El Roi (The God Who Sees) steps in. When God saw that Leah was unloved He allowed her to have children but Rachel remained barren.
We have to understand that in Jewish culture, having children was very important. God had given the instruction for mankind to “Be fruitful and replenish the earth. (Genesis 9:1)”
He had also given the promise to Abraham that his seed would be as numerous as the stars (Genesis 12:2, 15:5, 17:2,5). All the men from the line of Abraham greatly anticipated that their generations would be great in numbers, a mighty nation.
God looked at Leah and He blessed her womb. Her response is heart-breaking. “The Lord has noticed my misery, and now my husband will love me.” She named him Reuben: ‘Behold a son!’ (Genesis 29:32)
But he didn’t. God had blessed her with a second son.“The Lord heard that I was unloved and has given me another son.” She said and named him Simeon which means ‘Hearing’ or ‘That is heard’ (Genesis 29:33). And still, Jacob didn’t love her.
Still seeking Jacob’s love, Leah’s response to the birth of the third son reflects her pain: “Surely this time my husband will feel affection for me, since I have given him three sons!” She named him Levi meaning ‘Attached’ (Genesis 29:34).
Leah: Loved By God
Then God steps in.
Somewhere between the birth of her third son and her fourth, Leah had a heart change. Her focus shifted from gaining the love of her earthly husband to acknowledging the love of her Heavenly Father.
The fourth son she named Judah which means ‘Praise’. She realized that all the sons in the world could not make her husband love her. They could not increase her worth in his eyes. Somehow she had to realize that her worth came from God. She was precious in His sight. He saw her. He knew her. But most importantly, He loved her.
And through her – this unloved wife of Jacob – all the nations of the earth were blessed. When she left off seeking man’s approval and started giving God praise, she became an ancestor of Jesus.
If we use the world’s standard of finding worth in temporary things, we run the risk of never accomplishing the task that God has placed in our hearts. We have to look to Him – our El Shaddai – to define us and show us our worth. we need to give Him all the praise for every situation. Only then will He be able to use us in the way that He intends.
Personal Bible Study
Read Genesis 29.
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