Sharon Wilharm Bible Storyteller

Rachel and Leah Compete

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.

And then we come to a scene that bears a great resemblance to an earlier scene with Jacob and Esau. Leah’s son Reuben found mandrakes, a fruit associated with fertility, and brought them to his mother.

When Rachel saw Leah’s mandrakes, she wanted them. Leah, saw the opportunity for a trade. Rachel offered Leah Jacob for a night if she could have the mandrakes. Leah agreed.

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.

Then God remembered Rachel and gave her a son whom she named Joseph, saying, “The Lord shall add to me another son.”

Leah and Rachel both got caught up in a competition, trying to best the other one. In their fierce fight for more children, they lost sight of everything else. They didn’t appreciate the children they had because of their zeal for more children. Even Jacob took a backseat to their sister feud.

Sometimes we get so caught up in what we don’t have that we lose sight of what we have. May you rejoice today in God’s blessings on you rather than worrying about how God has blessed someone else.

Rachel and Leah’s Competition in Scripture: Genesis 30:1-24

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