Women in the Bible: Leah

Women in the Bible: Leah

Leah, like her younger sister, Rachel, is an interesting character. While I’m inexplicitly drawn to Rachel, I just feel sorry for Leah.

She marries her first cousin, Jacob. The problem is Jacob loves her younger sister Rachel. While Rachel is attractive, Leah is not. Though we don’t understand the details, we do know she doesn’t have the same allure as her little sister.

It’s Rachel that Jacob wants to marry, but Rachel’s father pawns off the older sister on him instead. When Jacob complains, he’s given Rachel, too. So the two sisters become co-wives.

God blesses Leah with children. Click To Tweet

Jacob loves Rachel, but not Leah—though not so much that he won’t sleep with her. Because she’s unloved, God blesses her with children. First there’s Reuben, then Simeon, followed by Levi and Judah.

Later, in a most unusual story, she gives a famished Rachel some food in exchange for a night with Jacob. Leah gets pregnant again and has Issachar and later Zebulun. After that, she has Dinah.

As the sisters compete for Jacob’s attention, they bring their maids into the marriage bed; both servants produce two sons for Jacob.

After all this, Rachel has Joseph and much later dies giving birth to Benjamin. At last, it seems, Leah will not need to compete with her sister for Jacob’s attention. But the reminder of Rachel forever looms, with Jacob showing favoritism to Rachel’s sons over the children that Leah bore.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Genesis 27-29, and today’s post is on Genesis 29:16-25.]

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Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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