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A Tale of Two Sisters - Rachel and Leah
by Steven Wickstrom
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In Genesis chapter 27, Jacob had already swindled his brother Esau out of the birthright, and now he had deceitfully taken away the blessing of their father Isaac. Esau, having been double-crossed twice, was so angry that he was preparing to kill Jacob. When their mother, Rebekah, found out about Esau's plans, she convinced Isaac to send Jacob up to the city of Haran where her brother Laban lived to find a wife. Jacob left home, headed north, found Laban and became employed as one of Labanís workers.

Laban had two daughters; the older daughter was named Leah, and the younger daughter was named Rachel. Rachel had the body of a goddess and the face of a super-model. Leah is described as having "weak" eyes. Jacob immediately fell head over heels in love with Rachel. He told Laban that he would work seven years for Laban and as payment, he would get to marry Rachel. Both men shook hands on the deal.

At the end of the seven years, Laban swindled Jacob by switching Leah for Rachel towards the end of the marriage ceremony. Jacob thought he was spending the night with Rachel, but Laban had substituted Leah in her place. Jacob was furious. The swindler had been swindled. He didnít want Leah he wanted Rachel. Jacob and Laban worked out another deal for another seven years of service. When the seven-day marriage ritual with Leah was complete, Jacob immediately married Rachel.

The Bible says in Genesis 29:30 that "Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah." The words "more than" are not in the original Hebrew text. The interpreters of the Old Testament added those words to the text much later. What the Bible indicates here is that Jacob did not love Leah at all. Jacob had eyes only for Rachel and he didn't care about Leah. Jacob's heart was for the super-model, not the homely girl who needed glasses.

Two women; one was loved and the other was unloved. The interesting thing to look at is the personalities of the two women. They were like night and day, complete opposites. Let me show you.

  • Rachel was for the most part, barren (a sign of God's displeasure).
  • Leah bore many children (a sign of God's favor).

  • Rachel stole her father's idols and kept them in her tent.
  • Leah kept asking God for more sons in the hope that maybe Jacob would love her.

  • Rachel traded Jacob to Leah (for a night) for some of Leah's mandrakes (a root that was thought to make a barren woman bear children).
  • The only thing Rachel had that Leah wanted, was Jacob's love.

  • Rachel was always jealous of Leah because Leah could bear children.
  • The Bible does not say that Leah was jealous of Rachel over anything.

  • Rachel was unhappy due to God closing her womb.
  • Leah was happy and rejoiced over her children.

  • When Rachel died (after giving birth to Benjamin) Jacob buried her near Bethlehem.
  • When Leah died many years later, Jacob buried her next to Abraham and Sarah, and Isaac and Rebekah.

When Jacob was old and dying, he gave his sons instructions to bury with him with his forefathers, and next to Leah. What happened in the end that caused Leah to be shown so much honor and not Rachel? It was Leah who was buried with Jacobís forefathers, not Rachel. It was Leah that Jacob wanted to be buried next to, not Rachel. In the end, it was Leah who was loved, not Rachel. What happened?

Perhaps Jacob started seeing things from Godís perspective. Perhaps Jacob saw that the woman God loved was Leah. Perhaps Jacob saw that Leah was focused on God and Rachel was not. Thousands of years later, the messiah would be born through Judah's lineage. It was Leah who gave birth to Judah, not Rachel. It was Leah who gave birth to Levi, who would become the father of the line of Priests. Leah was not blessed with physical beauty, but she was indeed blessed by God. Unloved by men, she was deeply loved by God.

Perhaps you are a Christian woman who is married to man that does not love you. You and Leah have much in common. Where is your focus? Leahís focus was on God. God eventually turned Jacobís heart to Leah and he loved her more than he had ever loved Rachel. While Leah was waiting all those years for God to turn Jacobís heart to her, she never gave up hope. During all those years that she was unloved, God continued to bless Leah. During all those years that Leah was unloved by her husband, God never stopped loving her.

If you are a woman in Leahís shoes, there is great hope for you. Are you willing to give God time to answer your prayers? Leah waited, and God answered her prayer. Leah could have become bitter because she was unloved, but she did not, and God rewarded her patience. God will reward your patience if you keep your heart and your life focused on Him. Keep God as your number one priority and he will see you through to the end.

The desire of most women is to be a super-model like Rachel. What woman does not want men to desire her? But God wants women to desire Him. He wants women with weak eyes like Leah, who will focus on Him, and not on the world. You know how painful and tough life really is as you live from day to day. Will you face life and focus your eyes on God like Leah? Or will you focus inward and focus on your problems, like Rachel. It is a tale of two sisters, which one will you choose to be?

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Member Comments
Member Date
Kathy Barnes 24 Apr 2010
I loved this article. I knew Leah had God's favor if not her husband's. I had never thought of Leah being loved more in the end. She keep on loving her husband even when he did not deserve that unconditional love, just like God does us. It is nice to see it with new eyes.
Donna Haug 19 Jul 2003
Great story, Steve! I just told this story to my six year old while passing the time on a long trip. I never thought of it in this light at all. Very interesting! Thanks for giving me food for thought today! God bless! Donna
19 Jan 2003
I'm a new member, but this kind of article certainly makes me glad I joined and sorry I hadn't done so earlier! Very interesting points made here. So often we view the "characters" in the Bible instead of the "real people" who were so much like us. I appreciate your presentation here.
Carole McDonnell 11 Sep 2002
Wow, wow, wow! I loved this article! I always thought that Leah --the mother of Israel-- was a real blessing for Jacob --although he and Rachel deserved each other. I loved the part in the Bible where Jacob says to Joseph, "Will I and your mother and brothers bow before you?" That happened years after Rachel was dead. By then, Leah was everyone's mother..finally the head of the family. Great article!


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