This is the story of deception, manipulation and rivalry. It is the story of two sisters in the bible who were envious of each other. Leah and Rachel were Jacob’s wives. The lesson that you and I can learn from this is that envy does not get us what we want, it only makes us miserable.
Jacob loved Rachel; she was pretty and Leah was not. Therefore Leah was not desirable to Jacob. He worked for 7 years to earn Rachel’s hand in marriage from her father, Laban. At the end of those 7 years, Laban prepared a feast. Then, at night, he took his daughter Leah, instead of Rachel, to the bridal chamber to wait for the unsuspecting groom. Jacob did not realize that the woman in the chamber was actually Leah. It was customary for a bride to be covered and fully veiled on her wedding night. She would only remove the veil in the morning as a sign that the marriage had been consummated.
Morning was probably the moment that Leah dreaded. She knew what her father had done. She also knew that Jacob did not love her. And when the groom realized that he had spent the night with a wrong woman, he immediately went to confront Laban who had deceived him. His new father in law responded by saying, “It must not be done so in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn. Fulfil her week, and we will give you this one also for the same service which you will serve with me still another 7 years.” Gen 29 v 26 – 27.
A week later, Jacob had two wives, Leah and Rachel. I feel sorry for Leah; she was caught up in the deception that was not of her own doing. Have you ever been caught up in someone else’s drama? Have you ever been caught in a web of lies and deception that was not of your doing? Like any other woman, all that Leah ever wanted was to be loved for who she was.
The bible says when the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, He opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. Leah, knowing that she was unwanted, went on a crusade to prove her worth the only way she knew how-by having babies. She burst out four boys in a blink of an eye, hoping this would make Jacob love her. Her efforts proved futile. We see the evidence of her hopes to win over her husband’s love when she named her first son Reuben saying, “Now my husband will love me.” When her second son Simeon was born, she said, “The Lord has seen that I am hated.” She named her third son Levi saying, “Now my husband will be attached to me.”
But even three sons did not cause her husband to love her. Finally, Leah moved her focus from man to God. Naming her fourth son Judah, declaring, “Now I will praise the Lord.” Is it not interesting that we only run to God once our efforts to be accepted by man have failed?
The two sisters wanted what the other had. Leah so desperately wanted Jacob’s love; Rachel desperately wanted to have Jacob’s children. Now when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children she envied her sister and said to Jacob, “Give me children or else I die.” And Jacob’s anger was arouse against Rachel, and he said, “Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?” Gen 30 v 1 – 2.
Desperately, Rachel gave her maid to her husband so that she could bear children through her and two of Jacob’s sons, Dan and Naphtali, were born. Leah was not to be outdone; she took her own maid, doing what her sister had done. Leah was determined to remain the majority shareholder. Two more sons, Gad and Asher, were born to Leah in this way.
At that time Leah had stopped giving birth. It is unclear whether this was due to fertility issues or it was because Jacob was just not going in to her anymore. But one day Reuben, Leah’s son brought some mandrakes from the field. He gave them to his mother, (apparently mandrakes helps boost fertility). When Rachel saw the mandrakes she said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes?” Leah retorted, “Is it a small matter that you have taken away my husband, now you want to take away my son’s mandrakes also?” This statement made me believe Jacob was now with Rachel full time. Rachel replied, “He will lie with you tonight for your son’s mandrakes.”
Ok, I know in the sisterhood we are not supposed to feel sorry for “them”, but honestly my heart went out for Jacob-there was just too much drama. These two sisters made the women of Wisteria Lane in Fairview to look like saints (if you know what I am talking about). When he came home that evening, Leah was waiting for him, and she said, “Tonight, you are mine. I hired you with my son’s mandrakes.”
That night he slept with Leah. She conceived and bore him a son Issachar. Later, she also gave birth to Zebulun and then a daughter, Dinah. Then God, in His own time, remembered Rachel and gave her two sons, Joseph and then Benjamin.
Loved or unloved, pretty or not pretty, God had plans for both Leah and Rachel. Joseph (Rachel’s son) became great, God used him to save the whole nation. While out of the lineage of Judah (Leah’s son) was born the Messiah who would save the whole world, Jesus the lion of the tribe of Judah. If only they had known Jeremiah 29 v 11, they would not have had to live their lives so miserably.