Friday, August 7, 2015

All Things New: Leah, the Overshadowed Road

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel.  Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel was lovely in form, and beautiful.  -- Gen. 29:16-17 NIV84

Beauty seemed to run in the family...Sarah, her niece Rebekah, her niece Rachel...but Leah missed the beauty gene.  Or maybe she barely missed it; the term translated 'weak eyes' in the NIV can have several connotations.  Strong's 739, rak, is defined as tender (lit. or fig.); by impl. weak: - faint [-hearted], soft, tender ([-hearted] one), weak.  Leah had something unattractive about her eyes; she may have been nearsighted, so that she squinted continually; or it could even have been a reference to the color of her eyes...her eyes  may have been startlingly pale ('faint'), compared to the deep brown common in that ethnic group.  We know from what happened on Jacob's first wedding night that she could not have been much different than her sister in her basic physical form.

But, whatever the actual issue was, she was flawed.  Her younger sister was most definitely not.  When their cousin arrived looking for a bride...Leah was overlooked.  Not even considered. Jacob had only been with them one month, enough to demonstrate that he had the ability to manage and organize and bring increase, when Laban decided Jacob should stick around and work for him...and asked him what he would feel would be fair wages.

Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, 'I'll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel.'  (Gen 29:18)

Now that was a deal.  No dowry needed...and Laban had seven years of willing work.  Leah had seven years to watch Jacob, who loved her sister and probably barely noticed her.

Did Leah fall in love with Jacob?  Was her heart pained every time he brushed her aside?  It's possible.

We do not know whose idea it was to swap brides on the wedding night.  But Leah had to be a willing conspirator.  Most assuredly, Jacob had been drinking, but  I have a hard time believing he would allow himself to get stupid drunk, with Rachel waiting for him.  But it was dark in the tent...and the ladies were somewhat similar in build...and Leah said very little.  It wasn't until it was full daylight that Jacob saw what had happened.  Now, had Leah not been willing to go along with the plan, she could easily have given Jacob a reason to recognize that it was not Rachel in his arms.  But she held her peace and maintained the illusion.

And thus, by subterfuge, she won herself a husband...who had nothing but disdain and contempt for her.  Oh, she may have put the blame on Laban, who willingly accepted it, but the plain truth was she had deceived Jacob and he was now bound to a woman for whom he felt no affection and had no use.  And he had to spend a week with her in the bridal chamber before he could claim the woman he loved.

Those seven days may have seemed longer than the previous seven years to all of them.  At the end of it, Jacob married Rachel and did not return to Leah's tent.

But Leah was pregnant.  She blossomed with life, while Rachel, who had her husband's, um, full attention, remained thin and barren.  Leah had Jacob's approval when she presented him with his firstborn son, Reuben.  When it was appropriate...he went to her tent to show his appreciation.  And she became pregnant again.

Perhaps Jacob had a use for her, after all.  Four sons she gave him in succession, while Rachel seethed with jealousy, blaming Jacob for her barrenness.  But Leah was going through a transition.  She was learning to find her significance  and her worth not in her relationships but in her God.  She named her fourth son Judah, saying, 'This time I will praise the LORD.'

My idea...I'll fix this...this will work...all our human ideas and schemes lead to problems.  Leah's acceptance of a plan to make Jacob marry her gave her a lifetime of heartache and rejection.  But in the midst of it she recognized, for at least a season, that God was the one who held her, it was God who gave her sons, it was God who would take her mess and make it into something that would ultimately bring Him glory.  She had no way of knowing that her praise would begin the lineage of The King.

What am I trying to manipulate into something that achieves my desires?  How can I release that to God?  What actions of His can I praise Him for today?

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