A friend of mine sent me an intriguing podcast the other day about Rachel, Jacob’s wife. She was the mother of Joseph and Benjamin. She said, “I keep seeing Rachel everywhere!” When she said it, I thought, “that’s funny” because “I keep seeing Leah.”
Oh, Leah, you break my heart. What can women learn from you and your eyes that cried a million tears?
Our backdrop starts in Genesis, where we learn that Jacob, the patriarch later named Israel, has just fled from his brother Esau who is looking to kill him. Why is he on the run? With the help of his mother, Jacob takes the savory game she has cooked and pretends to be the firstborn (Esau) to get the blessing. He deceives both his brother and his father, Isaac.
“Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn; I have done just as you told me; please arise, sit and eat of my game, that your soul may bless me.”
After Isaac blesses Jacob with beautiful words –mighty and true, Esau arrives with his game he has cooked, and he tells his father to bless him please, but Isaac says, “What?” Who did I just bless? Your brother has deceived you.”
“When Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with an exceedingly great and bitter cry, and said to his father, “Bless me—me also, O my father!” BLESS ME!” (Genesis 27:19-21 NKJV).
Have you ever had your blessing taken away? Right before your eyes–? By someone close to you? It’s a horrible feeling. Leah was not the wife Jacob wanted— Rachel was the sexy dark-eyed beauty Jacob had his heart set on. Laban tricks Jacob and gives him Leah on his wedding night. Do you see the swap? Jacob, the trickster, has just been duped. Jacob, who dressed up like Esau, has now met the oldest daughter dressed up as the youngest.
Imagine being so in love with a woman that you agree to work seven years for her hand in marriage. Seven is the number of completions. For Jacob, his dowry is now doubled to fourteen. Imagine being Jacob for a moment. Young—handsome—on the run from your brother with his stolen birthright and blessing. He runs and kisses Rachel at first sight. Her father agrees to the terms. And then comes the grand wedding day. Ah, who is under the veil? Who is hidden from view and unrecognizable? Can you ponder what it was like when Jacob’s fingertips ran down her smooth back and kissed the nape of her neck? He became passionately one with his new bride whispering sweet, tender words into her ear, but then woke up as deceived as his brother had been when he said, “Father don’t you have a blessing for me? BLESS ME—me also, my father!”
In the morning light, Jacob arose only to find not Rachel, the pretty ewe lamb, but Leah, her tender eyed sister. Wild cow. Her name means wild cow, weary, grief, offense–and Sorrow.
One old legend explains that Rachel understood that her father had given Jacob her sister first and that she humbly helped her prepare her dress, knowing that she would be second.
“According to an old story, Leah was destined to marry Jacob’s older twin brother, Esau. In the Rabbinic mind, the two brothers are polar opposites; Jacob being a God-fearing scholar and Esau being a hunter who also indulges in murder, idolatry, and adultery. But people were saying, “Laban has two daughters, and his sister, Rebekah, has two sons. The older daughter (Leah) will marry the older son (Esau), and the younger daughter (Rachel) will marry the younger son (Jacob).” Hearing this, Leah spent most of her time weeping and praying to God to change her destined mate. Thus the Torah describes her eyes as “soft” from weeping. God hearkens to Leah’s tears and prayers and allows her to marry Jacob even before Rachel does.”
There is no greater sadness on the earth than a woman unloved by her lover. Leah knew Jacob would never love her like he did her sister. He wants her beautiful sister whose name means ewe—a lamb.
Instead of the “Bless me mantra,” Leah’s words sound more like this—”Love me–please love me.”
“I know you have some love left inside your soul to wring out for me.
A crumb, my lad?
Please do not let my fruitful womb go unnoticed! ”
Can you hear the weak-eyed Leah crying?
When you go unnoticed for something you are good at, it’s a miserable feeling. Amid Leah’s sadness, weakness, and weariness, there grows a strong woman whose name is that of a wild ox, strong and mighty. One day he’ll see what a beautiful woman his wife Leah is, and Jacob will ask to be buried with her.
Rachel will die in childbirth to Benjamin on the way, and she will be buried between Bethel and Ephrat. Rachel weeps for her children, not just Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh) but Benjamin and the entire House of Israel taken to Babylon. Can you hear her voice coming from the cave–crying out for her children to become one? I can. The Father tells her to restrain from weeping that her voice will be heard.
“Now the LORD saw that Leah was unloved, and He opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. Leah conceived and bore a son and named him [Reuben, for she said, “Because the LORD has seen my affliction; surely now my husband will love me.” Then she conceived again and bore a son and said, “Because the LORD has heard that I am unloved, He has therefore given me this son also.” So she named him Simeon. She conceived again and bore a son and said, “Now this time, my husband will become attached to me because I have borne him three sons.” Therefore he was named Levi. And she conceived again and bore a son and said, “This time I will praise the LORD.”
Therefore she named him Judah. Then she stopped bearing” (Genesis 29:31-35).
Ah, Judah—The scepter will not depart from you. Yeshua, the lion from the tribe of Judah, will be praised. Leah finally reaches the point where she says, forget about Jacob; and says, “my heavenly Father loves me!”
To every broken woman reading this, know that He hears you, and He loves you more than you can think or imagine. One day Leah and Rachel will be one bride. Unity is what we pray for.
I became pregnant at the tender age of 17. We named my firstborn William. The name William means a determined protector—a strong helmet, and he did become that for his brothers and me. An old soul. After two years, many rough roads, and multiple eviction notices, I became pregnant with my second son, and I just knew that things would be different with two sons and more responsibility. Surely he would love me now and provide for his sons— — stop gambling—become grounded. My mother named this second son after his grandpa “Robert,” but not much changed. Robert’s name means bright- shining—famed one. After seven years of crying and praying, I gave up and went out to sow my wild oats, but we ended up back together due to his salvation journey and a new start. He looked like Yeshua, and he wanted to gather at a local congregation—read the Bible and pray, but by this time, I looked like death and the thing I had cried out for seemed like a curse. I no longer loved him. My heavenly Father named my third son Samuel (Yahweh hears). Yahweh does hear. However, we don’t always remain faithful or obedient. I prayed for my husband to change, but by the time he did, I was numb. I went to church with him and tried to renew my vows, both of them. Soon he slipped back into his old habits, and I wasn’t perfect either–everything looked like it did before. I stayed for seven more years. 14, the number Jacob labored for his Rachel. Divorce breaks children’s hearts. Men and women take it from me, a woman who has made mistakes- raise your seed in the ways of the Father and His instructions.
After Samuel’s birth, I asked the doctors to tie—burn—cut, and destroy my tubes because I did not want to bring any more life into the earth that would not be cared for. I knew this was not what the Father wanted, but I disobeyed. The doctors tried to convince me not to do this because I was so young (23). The day after Samuel was born, they took me back for surgery, and after it was over, the doctors told me they never had a case like mine that was so hard to do. They said, “you’ll be bruised. We had to really work to get them tied.” My entire stomach turned black and blue. How many beautiful sons would He have given me? A troop possibly. My grandmother had 12; if I could go back and talk to my younger self, oh the things, I would say.
I’d surely try and be more like Leah, Rachel, and more like Ruth, the woman I am named after.
Our Father does hear, and He opens Rachel’s womb and gives her Joseph. He is doubly fruitful– doubly blessed.
After the birth of Joseph, something happens to Leah that has always bothered me. I honestly can relate to this part of the story wearily. I know it has a more significant meaning about the order of spiritual things, but it still grieves me.
The moment has finally happened—Jacob, the one who was called a deceiver—the one who wrongfully seizes and usurps his way to blessings–Yes, this Jacob has wrestled with an angel of God and received a hip out of the socket, a new name (Israel) and is prepared to meet his brother Esau. The one who wished to hunt him down and take his life is headed in his direction. Jacob has fear. Then, something happens that moves me to tears.
Jacob lines up his jewels—his wealth—his possessions—the things he cherishes, and he has them in order of what he deems they are worth. He places the ones he loves the most in the back for protection. Jacob looked up, and there was Esau, coming with his four hundred men; so he divided the children among Leah, Rachel, and the two female servants. He put the female servants and their children in front, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph in the rear. He went on ahead and bowed down to the ground seven times as he approached his brother.”
As Leah walked with her young sons around her, she still knew that her younger sister was treasured above her, and the young child Joseph was safely tucked in the back with his mother–the little Lamb. I have been there. Perhaps you are a woman whose husband has always placed something ahead of you, and I’m not talking about our Heavenly Father. Maybe it’s his job—the children—money—sports—his ex—his desires. What would a woman like Leah do?
She gave up asking for his full love on the 4th try and said I’ll Praise my Father. Her sons were blessings from Abba, my sons are too, and one day they will be mighty on the earth, and the Torah of Adonai will be upon their lips and in their hearts. Yes, I am calling things that are not as though they are.
Can you hear Esau’s words—bless me, father. And he will. Love me too, Leah cries and is answered. Rachel weeps for her children, and he hears. “Retrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears for your work will be rewarded” (Jeremiah 31:16).
So to all you weary Leah’s out there wrestling with your younger sister, remember you are a wild ox- strong like the red heifer. To all you Rachel’s out there, you are a tender ewe, beautiful and powerful too. And to Bilhah, the one whose name means timid—worn-out—rags—useless—you will give birth, and your sons also will be mighty. Their words are beautiful. And how can we not mention Zilpah? Jacob slept with Leah’s handmaid and had Gad and Asher. According to Abarim publication, “The name Zilpah comes from the verb זלף (zalaph). Its meaning is to drip, drop, sprinkle, pour. Pour!
He said that in the last days, He would pour out His Spirit on His handmaids, and He is, and I see it. My Father, My Abba Daddy, has not forgotten His Girls.
We praise you, Abba, for making us one. For bringing us together in unity—sweet unity.