• ‘The golden glow of the setting sun stole across the room where a sick and hurting Leah lay, tossing and turning on her sheep skin bed. She had tried to be the perfect wife of the Jewish tribal chief, Jacob, performing her duties faithfully, over and above what was required of her. Yet she remained Jacob’s unloved and neglected wife. Hard work had crippled her body and broken her spirit. But still she had hoped and prayed that one day she would win, if not Jacob’s love, at least his appreciation.
Leah had never known love. Her mother had died while she was still young and the burden of caring for her father’s household fell on her slender shoulders. Leah was not beautiful and her pale weak eyes did nothing to improve her appearance. Her father, Laban, was disappointed that his eldest child was not a boy and even as a girl, she was too plain to fetch a decent bride-price. He treated her with disdain and disapproval. Leah promised herself that if she got married, she would make up what she lacked in beauty by being an exemplary hard working wife.
Rachel, Leah’s younger sister, was very beautiful. Laban’s young nephew, Jacob offered to serve Laban, seven years for the hand of the Rachel. After the seven years, Laban cheated him and got him married to Leah. He made Jacob serve seven more years to get Rachel. Leah’s marriage did not have a happy start.
Leah as the first wife had to be responsible for all the work and duties of a tribal chief’s wife while Rachel, the favorite wife, enjoyed a comfortable carefree life. Rachel was her little sister and so Leah did not complain. She went the extra mile to prove her worth, hoping to force Jacob to accept and appreciate her.
However, after the birth of her third son she realized she could not succeed in this effort. She decided that if she could not change Jacob she would change herself. She would focus on the things she had achieved and praise God. When her fourth son was born she named him Judah, and said “Now I will praise God.” God remembered her and honored her for her faithfulness.
Lying on her bed, Leah contemplated her life. She knew she was near the end and she no longer pined for Jacob’s love. God had blessed her abundantly. She had borne six of Jacob’s sons. She was honored and respected by her tribe,
The gate in the courtyard creaked as Jacob entered. After working in the fields all day he had come home to a warm meal and a peaceful evening. He realized that the comfort of his home was due to Leah who took care of all his needs. Since Rachel’s death he had come to depend on Leah’s gentle and undemanding love. Suddenly it dawned on him that he had never once thanked her. He met the maid at the door.
“Where is Leah,” he asked.
“The mistress is not well today. She is in bed,” the maid answered. Jacob was worried. In all these years he had never known Leah to be sick and in bed. He rushed to her bedside and kneeling beside her he took her limp hand in his. Leah opened her eyes slowly and smiled weakly.
“I am sorry, my husband,” she whispered as she labored to breathe.
“Rest, my dear, is what you need. You work too much. I have never appreciated you. But now I know that I love you in my own arrogant way. Get well soon,” he said as he softly kissed her hand.
Leah smiled and closed her eyes.’
Leah is one of my favorite Bible heroines. Many a time when I have been unappreciated I have remembered her. I try to emulate her and focus my energy elsewhere trying to make things better, giving those little extra touches that spell excellence. I know God will bless me. He did bless Leah for it was through Levi that Israel received the priesthood and it was through Judah that Israel got her greatest King, David and the world received the Savior, Jesus Christ.
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