The story of Rachel and Leah develops after the Jeremy-Kyle-style wedding that we looked at last week. Now Jacob is married to both sisters, but only loves Rachel. You can read Rachel’s summary post from last week in this post.
In this week’s verse, Leah becomes pregnant.
Leah: Unloved, but seen by God
Let’s look at Leah first. Poor Leah. Trapped in a loveless marriage. Manipulated by her father so that she married the man who actually loved her sister. And always living in the shadows of Rachel’s beauty. We are told that she is miserable – and I can well believe it.
Yet God saw her and had pity on her. He gave her a child. If we read on in the story, we see that she bore Jacob six sons and a daughter. So God really did pour his blessings onto her.
I can imagine this really gave Leah hope, and purpose. We see her thoughts in the second part of the verse – she thinks her husband will love her.
How many times have we seen this story echoed? We think that a child will draw a couple closer together. “Surely he will love me now,” must have been a phrase uttered by almost every female soap character over the past 25 years. Yes, in some ways, a child does draw a couple together, but in other ways, a child can really test and put strain on your relationship. Leah thought she could earn Jacob’s love by bearing him a child, but it was not to be.
Despite being blessed with children, surely Leah’s home was not a happy one. The baby added yet more tension to her relationship with her sister, and as we know, Jacob did not love her any more.
Rachel: Beloved but Childless
Poor Leah, but also poor, poor Rachel. Having had her father and sister conspire against her, she now finds herself unable to conceive. Not only that, but Leah seems to have no trouble falling pregnant, and quickly has four sons.
Rachel’s shoes are an uncomfortable pair to step into today. The years of pain, the years of waiting. The sorrow, month after month, as she is unable to conceive. The knowledge that, despite being the one Jacob really loves, their union is not blessed by God.
Once again, this strikes me as a story which is so relatable today. Couples who are unable to conceive watch friends, sisters, relatives fall pregnant so easily. While they wait, even unloved women have several children.
From the perspective of the women
Rachel and Leah’s stories have so much resonance with us today. I’ve only ever looked at them from the perspective of Jacob. “How terrible that he was deceived when he really loved Rachel,” I would think. But now that I look at Rachel and Leah, I see that God knows every situation, every relationship, every longed-for child and every hope of our hearts. Not only that, but He can use a broken family full of broken and damaged characters to build his people – for from Rachel and Leah come the 12 tribes of Israel.
Next week, we look at Genesis 30:1 – When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!” Rachel will be leading the discussion over in our Facebook group.