Saturday, October 15, 2016

Leah


Women of the Dawn
Leah

Leah: Married to Jacob. Co-Wives with her younger sister Rachel. (Women Who Gave Birth to a Nation.)

Key Scripture: Genesis 29-35, Ruth 4:11.

Her Name Means: "Tired or Impatient".

Her Character: Capable of both strong and enduring love, she was a faithful wife and mother. Manipulated by her father, she became jealous. Scripture comments only on her eyes, ‘weak’ the word more likely indicates that her eyes were tender or gentle.

Her Sorrow: That she lacked her sister's beauty, and that her husband Jacob favored her sister Rachel.

Her Joy: That she bore Jacob six sons and one daughter.  

Her Story: Leah was the oldest daughter of Laban, Rebekah's brother. The only physical description of her is that she had "weak eyes" (Genesis 29:17) Jacob married Leah because of a trick of Laban. Jacob ran to Haran to escape from his brother Esau. In Haran, Jacob fell in love with Rachel, Leah’s younger sister. He reached a deal with Laban that he would work for Laban seven years to marry Rachel. Jacob worked seven years and, at the end of that time, Laban made a feast at which he was to give his daughter to Jacob. Instead of giving him Rachel, however, Laban tricked Jacob and gave him Leah.

Jacob confronted Laban about the trickery and Laban agreed to give him Rachel one week later, provided Jacob would work for him an additional seven years. Jacob agreed, married Rachel, and loved Rachel more than Leah. This hurt Leah and God consoled her with children. Leah was not comforted, however, and named her sons accordingly. She names her first son Reuben (“see, a son”) her next one Simeon (“God heard that I am unloved”), the third one Levi (“now my husband will be with me”), and the fourth one Judah ("thanks, praise").

One time, during a harvest, Reuben brought Leah some mandrakes. Rachel asked for them and gave Leah the right to sleep with Jacob that night in exchange. Leah subsequently conceived her fifth son, Issachar. She had another son, Zebulun, and a daughter, Dinah, before Rachel gave birth to her first child.
After Rachel’s son, Joseph, was born, Jacob told Leah and Rachel that God had commanded him to return to his homeland of Canaan. They responded that he should do what God told him and they would follow.
The next time Leah is mentioned occurs when Jacob met with his estranged brother Esau. Jacob formed a receiving line of his wives and children, but despite all her children, Leah is still second best. When Jacob believes that danger threatens in his meeting with Esau, he arranges his family so that the maids and their children are placed first, then Leah and her children, and last and most protected, Rachel and Joseph (Genesis 33:1–2).

From Leah's son Judah came the tribe of Judah, from which came the line of Boaz, Jesse, and David, which produced Jesus (Luke 3:23, 31-33) From her son Levi sprang the priesthood.

Her Strength: Leah was a loving and faithful wife. Even though Jacob favored Rachel, Leah remained committed, enduring this unfairness through faith in God.

Her Weaknesses: Leah tried to make Jacob love her through her deeds. Her fault is a symbol for those of us who try to earn God's love rather than simply receive it.

Her Challenges Along the Way: Leah experienced the anguish of loving a man who seemed indifferent to her.

Her Victories:
God was attracted toward Leah because of an inner beauty which the lovely Rachel lacked. There are two kinds of beauty. There is a beauty which God gives at birth, and which withers as a flower. And there is a beauty which God grants by His grace. That kind of beauty never vanishes but blooms eternally.

Lesson We Can Learn from Her Legacy: God does not love us because we are beautiful. Neither does he reject us because we don't meet the world's standards for being attractive. God loves us unconditionally, with a pure, passionate tenderness. All we have to do for his love is accept it. Although Leah had not been part of Jacob's plans, Leah was a most important component in God's plan, God chose Leah to give birth to the royal and priestly bloodlines of the realm. Leah's third son, Levi, became the primogenitor of Israel's priesthood, including Moses, Aaron, Zachary, and John the Baptist. Her fourth son, Judah, was the ancestor of the house of David, the kingly family, including ‘Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ’ (Matthew 1.16). Indeed, the Lord was looking out for Leah.

Family Tree:
Father - Laban
Aunt - Rebekah
Husband - Jacob
Children - Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun and Dinah
Descendant - Jesus Christ, Savior of the world.

Death: It would be Leah, not Rachel, who would lie buried beside Jacob in the cave of the field of Machpelah. And at the end of his life, Jacob requested to be buried beside Leah (Genesis 49:29-31), suggesting he'd come to recognize the virtue in Leah and had grown to love her as deeply as he loved Rachel.

In Ruth 4:11, Leah is honored beside Rachel as one which "did build the house of Israel."
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Combining Rachel & Leah's Story

Rachel and Leah are the last two matriarchs of the Jewish people. They are the ones who, together with their husband Jacob, represent the cohesive family of which none of the sons were weeded out to become other nations. All their children became the twelve tribes of Israel, the first Jewish family. In this story of two sisters, each feeling forgotten in her own way, we see the God who remembers. He remembers His covenant promise to His people, graciously building up the nation Israel in its homeland. He did not forget Leah in her rejection or Rachel in her desperation.

Though these sisters stood in one environment most of the days of their lives, there was always this complete difference of character. They were both loyal to Jacob. They did not quarrel but wrestled in mind and spirit through all their lives. When Rachel's maid Bilhah bore Jacob two sons, when her second son was born, Rachel named him Naphtali, saying, "With great wresting's have I wrestled with my sister." (Genesis 30:8.) It would not be until the birth of all of Leah's children that Rachel bore Joseph, saying, "God hath taken away my reproach." Genesis 30:23. ) Later she had a second son, Benjamin, thus completing the twelve tribes of Israel by two sisters’ and their maids. It would be Rachel's son Joseph, often described as the most Christ like character in the Old Testament.

WHAT DID THEY ACCOMPLISH IN THEIR LIVES: They were responsible for the formation of the twelve tribes of Israel because they, (along with their maids) gave birth to Jacob's twelve sons; the extended families of these sons would grow into the tribes of Israel during the sojourn in Egypt, would journey back to Canaan under Moses and Joshua as a mighty army to redeem the land, and would occupy it in fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham that, "To your offspring I will give this land" (Genesis 12:7).

Unloved or childless, favored or fertile, Jacob’s sister-wives both walked through decades of hurt and resentment, comparison and competition. The two sisters remind us of two plants, one frail and the other strong, yet both growing in the same soil.

God takes the weak, misguided and sinful efforts of people and turns them into good things that accomplish His purposes. God rewards those who serve Him to the best of their ability and develops maturity in His followers gradually but surely.

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