Leah got caught in a web of deceit by her father’s scheme and was forced to live as a sister wife.
Though Jacob loved Rachel, he was deceived into marrying her older sister Leah. As a result of her father’s scheme, Leah was forced to live her life with a man who didn’t love her.
Leah’s Story in the Bible
Though Jacob fell in love with Rachel, her father didn’t think it fitting for the younger daughter to marry before the older daughter. Since Leah had weak eyes and failed to attract a suitor, Laban tricked Jacob into marrying Leah instead of Rachel.
When morning came, Jacob discovered the switch. He went to Laban and demanded to know why he’d deceived him in such a way. He pointed out that he’d worked seven years for Rachel, not Leah.
Laban told him that it was their custom that the younger daughter could not marry before the older daughter. He told Jacob to finish his honeymoon week with Leah, then he could marry Rachel if he served another seven years.
So Jacob married Rachel and went on to serve another seven years for her. And though he was married to Leah first, Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah.
Leah and Her Children
Poor Leah! Used as a pawn in her father’s deception. Caught up in a complicated situation with her sister. Married to a man who didn’t love her.
But God saw Leah’s situation and had compassion on her. He opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. Leah’s first son she called Reuben because, “The Lord has surely looked on my affliction. Now therefore, my husband will love me.”
She bore another son and called him Simeon and said, “Because the Lord has heard that I am unloved, He has therefore given me this son also.”
She bore a third son, calling him Levi, saying, “Now this time my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.”
She called her fourth son Judah and said, “Now I will praise the Lord.”
Then she stopped bearing children.
Leah thought she could win her husband’s love by providing him sons, but it didn’t work. We see in the naming of her sons and in her reactions to them her spiritual progression.
Leah thought God sent her Rueben to help her find love from her husband. She acknowledged God giving her Simeon because she thought God was trying to make up for her husband not loving her. With Levi, her third son, she hoped Jacob might at least form an attachment to her, even if he didn’t love her. Finally, with Judah, Leah chose to praise the Lord, turning to him for love instead of her husband.
When Leah realized that she’d stopped bearing children, she forgot about praising God and instead followed Rachel’s lead, giving her maid as a surrogate wife to Jacob.
Zilpah, Leah’s handmaiden, bore Jacob two sons. Leah named the first Gad, which means “a troop comes”. She named the second Asher, rejoicing that the women would call her blessed since she had another son.
Leah went on to conceive a son whom she called Issachar, claiming God blessed her because she gave her maid to Jacob. Then she bore another son, calling him Zebulun, saying, “God has endowed me with a good endowment, now my husband will dwell with me, because I have borne him six sons.” (Genesis 30:9) After that, Leah had a daughter named Dinah.
Leah had six sons and a daughter. In her children she witnessed praise and much sorrow.
How it must have broken her heart to see the mess that came from Dinah’s decision to venture unaccompanied into Shechem. Dinah must have been a beautiful young woman to have attracted the attention of the prince of the land. At first glance, it seems like a fairy tale for him to look out and see her and fall in love. But in his eagerness for her, he rushed things. Rather than going through the proper procedure of asking for permission and then marrying, he took her and then asked permission.
How did Leah feel about this pagan prince taking her daughter into his palace then asking for her hand in marriage? Of course, it didn’t really matter what she thought, because her sons Simeon and Levi took justice into their own hands, killing all the men of Shechem and taking all the women and children as captive. How horrified she must have been by their actions.
Then imagine her dismay when she heard that Reuben, her oldest, had slept with Bilhah, Rachel’s maidservant.
How it would have shocked her to know that her beloved sons plotted to kill Rachel’s son, and though Reuben tried to save Joseph, Judah convinced the others to sell him as a slave to a company of Ishmaelites.
The Death of Leah
Unfortunately, Leah didn’t live to see her sons forgiven by Joseph. She died before the family moved to Egypt. But tucked away in Genesis 49:31, we find a beautiful verse of hope. Jacob’s dying words to his sons were to bury him next to Leah in the cave where Abraham and Sarah, and Isaac and Rebekah were buried. Though in life, Leah was second, in death she found her place next to Jacob.
Leah in the Lineage of Jesus
Though the eldest of two sisters, Leah was the invisible one, the woman who was always in the shadow of her beautiful younger sister Rachel. Yet it was Leah who God blessed with numerous sons and a daughter, and Leah, who was chosen by God to be a part of the royal lineage.
When she bore her fourth son, she called him Judah, saying “Now I will praise the Lord.” (vs. 35)
This fourth son, Judah, is the one who was chosen by God to be part of Christ’s lineage.
Lord God, we come to you confused and a little angry with the way things have turned out. We’ve missed out on opportunities we’d looked forward to. This is not how we planned to spend this season of our lives. But Lord, we know that none of this caught you by surprise. You are in control. H
elp us to turn our eyes to you, to be able to see this situation through Your eyes. Allow us to see all the many blessings You’ve surrounded us with. Thank You for Your everlasting love and kindness. In Christ name. Amen.
Leah Bible Study
Bible Study Review
- What was wrong with Leah?
- Why was Leah jealous of Rachel?
- How did Leah try to gain love from her husband?
Thoughts to Ponder
- Why might Leah have gone along with her father’s scheme?
- Why was Leah so concerned with having sons?
- How did God bless Leah?
- What do you handle disappointents in life?
- How do you handle feeling alone and unloved?
- Can you be content in a bad situation?