Leah is one Bible character that just seems to be overlooked or ignored. I am writing this during the Christmas season which is part of the reason this is bugging me. I do have a habit of disagreeing with popular preaching and she will be added to my growing list. (Lo Debar was not a dump, Mephibosheth was not pathetic, and Jesse was not cruel to David. Leah was the good faithful FIRST wife of Jacob who probably had “pretty eyes”.) This Christmas season I have heard Rachel mentioned several times and Leah mentioned only once, and that was only because she was unloved. So, please bear with me as I try to show you why Leah should be treated better!
Jacob – I know that he got the short end of the deal with Laban, but did he really have room to complain about deceptive practices! He was not the poster child of fair-trade practices. (By the way, Jacob was OLD when he took a liking to Rachel.) It is also very plain that he did not ignore Leah, she had seven children (six boys and a girl). All of Leah’s family came before the name change to Israel. Yes, it still amazes me that from that point on he was called by both names. That change has many foreshadows.
Rachel – She must have been good looking but her personality really did match Jacob’s – she was a thief (her father’s idols), a con artist (Ruben’s gourds), and a liar (faking her period before her father). Leah is only mentioned in the Books of Genesis and Ruth (she was placed after Rachel), while Rachel is mentioned more times and made it into Jeremiah and Matthew. She was the “loved one” but I still have a hard time seeing that she was the “better one”. Because of her “loved” status people have heaped accolades on her but I shutter when they try to compare her to Ruth and Mary. (Which by the way, Mary was a descendent of Leah and Jacob through Judah.) Also, the fact that she was not taken to the family burial cave is a little perplexing. It would seem that Jacob was grieving and set up a pillar over her grave, but he did not take the time to honor her with a trip to the only property the family owned at the time. I know she may have stunk by the time they made it there but he did not even try.
Leah – Her exact role in Laban’s con of Jacob is never made clear, except that she went along with it and that Jacob could not tell the girls apart in the dark (okay, he was probably drunk).
At first, it bothered me that Leah was not mentioned more than she was in the Bible. That was until I remembered that the genealogies in Matthew and Luke were really her family trees. Boaz, Jesse, David, and Jesus are all her grandchildren, as were the majority of Jerusalem.
It is probable that Leah took care of baby Benjamin and Joseph after the death of Rachel and that she was the “mother” in Joseph’s dream. How long she lived and when she died is not told to us, only that she was buried in the cave with the rest of the family.
Leah’s Sons – Please do not point to the behavior of the children as an indicator of how good the parents were. If you read carefully the best one was Joseph and he may have had a pride problem before the trip to Egypt. Leah’s children in order of their birth are Ruben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, and Dinah. See the graphic in Marching Order.
It is apparent that “true wives” versus servant girls and first-born and rights of the firstborn come in God’s planning in the Exodus story and occupying the Land. Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun are in the prominent position of first in the Exodus march and face east in the camp around the Tabernacle. Rachel’s family of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin set out third and are on the west side of the Tabernacle. This is not bad, but they are not in the lead.
After the kingdom was split into two parts the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and Levi (Aaron) are the ones that inhabit Jerusalem and protect the Temple.
A Thought – Like many things Leah and Rachel are types and shadows of things to come. Leah the overlooked, the first wife of Jacob should/does represent present-day Judaism. That would make Rachel a shadow of Christianity. Okay, I am not sure how comfortable I am with that idea but God bless Leah the Overlooked and her part in the Family of God.
Special pic is from the Ultimate Bible Collection – Leah_w_Rachel_67-63