Bilhah, remember her? We first met Bilhah in Genesis 29:29 when Rachel married Jacob, and Laban gave her Bilhah as her handmaiden.
When Leah had son after son, and Rachel remained barren, Rachel first blamed Jacob for her lack of children. Then she offered him Bilhah as a surrogate wife so that she could bear children through her servant.
Bilhah bore two sons to Jacob. When the first was born, Rachel said, “God has judged me, and has also heard my voice and given me a son.” (Genesis 30:5 ESV) She named him Dan.
Bilhah’s second son Rachel named Naphtali, saying, “With mighty wrestlings I have wrestled with my sister and have prevailed.” (v. 7)
Once Rachel bore her own son, Bilhah slipped into the background until after Rachel’s death when Jacob’s son Reuben lay with Bilhah. Because he defiled his father by sleeping with Bilhah, Reuben lost his birthright. It was given instead, to the sons of Joseph.
What a tragic story of men and women caught up in their own personal desires, and Bilhah trapped in the middle of it all. Though she was given to Jacob as a wife, she never reached true wife status. Though she had sons, they were never truly her own. Even as a secondary wife or concubine, she didn’t receive the limited respect she should have been given.
What can we learn from Bilhah? Though none of us would choose to go through all that she went through, we can be encouraged by the fact that God chose to include her name and her story in the Bible. The world may not have respected her, but God knew her name and made a point to record her story for posterity. He knows your name as well. He knows what you’re going through. He is there for you.
Read the story: Genesis 29:29, 30:1-7, 35:22-25, 37:2, 46:25, 1 Chronicles 4:29, 7:13
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