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Rachel And Leah In The Bible

Where Did Jacob Marry Leah and Rachel? The Two Wives of Jacob: A blog about the two main wives from the Bible with info from textual and archeological evidence.

Rachel and Leah are two biblical women who are often compared to one another. Rachel was Jacob’s first wife, and Leah was his second. They were sisters, but their interactions with Jacob were not always friendly or pleasant.

The story of Rachel and Leah is found in Genesis 29-30. Jacob was sent by his father to take a wife from among his uncle Laban’s daughters. He was told that he would know which girl to marry after he saw her face; this way, he would be able to recognize her among her sisters (Genesis 29:15). When Jacob reached Haran, he found Leah instead of Rachel, because Laban had tricked him into marrying Leah first (Genesis 29:17).

After Jacob married Leah, she bore him four sons: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah (Genesis 29:32). After she had borne these four sons for Jacob, Laban gave her sister Rachel as a wife for him as well (Genesis 30:20).

Rachel And Leah In The Bible

Leah was Jacob’s first wife, and the older sister of his second (and favored) wife Rachel. She is the mother of Jacob’s first son Reuben. She has three more sons, namely Simeon, Levi and Judah, but does not bear another son until Rachel offers her a night with Jacob in exchange for some mandrake root (דודאים, dûdâ’îm).

When Rachel saw that she was barren, she took her maid Bilhah as a surrogate mother for her child (Genesis 30:3). Bilhah bore her two sons Dan and Naphtali (Genesis 30:4-5).

The story of Leah, Rachel, and Jacob is quite a dramatic love triangle. I urge you to read it for yourselves from the Word, but to help you understand where I am coming from here in this article, I’ll briefly summarize how it all gets started. 

The rivalry between Rachel and Leah

  • One of the most intriguing stories in the Bible is the tale of the rivalry between Rachel and Leah. These two sisters were both married to Jacob, but their relationship was far from harmonious. In Genesis 29:16-35, we learn that Jacob fell in love with Rachel and agreed to work for her father, Laban, for seven years in exchange for her hand in marriage. However, Laban deceived Jacob by giving him Leah instead of Rachel on their wedding night.This act of deception set the stage for a lifelong rivalry between the two sisters. Rachel was Jacob’s true love, but Leah bore him many children, while Rachel remained barren for many years. The competition between them intensified as they each tried to outdo the other in bearing sons for Jacob.God’s compassion towards LeahDespite the rivalry between Rachel and Leah, God showed compassion towards Leah. In Genesis 29:31-35, we see that Leah’s first son, Reuben, was named as a sign of her husband’s love for her. She went on to give birth to Simeon, Levi, and Judah, while Rachel remained childless. God blessed Leah with children as a way of comforting her in the midst of her difficult circumstances.Rachel’s eventual blessingRachel’s story also had a happy ending. In Genesis 30:22-24, we read that God remembered Rachel and opened her womb, allowing her to give birth to Joseph. Joseph would go on to become a great leader in Egypt and play a crucial role in the history of Israel. Despite the challenges she faced, Rachel was ultimately blessed by God with a child of her own.Lessons from the story of Rachel and Leah
    • Trust in God’s timing: Both Rachel and Leah had to wait for God’s timing in order to receive their blessings. Their story teaches us the importance of trusting in God’s plan for our lives, even when things may seem uncertain.
    • God’s compassion knows no bounds: Despite the rivalry and jealousy between Rachel and Leah, God showed compassion towards both of them. He blessed them with children and ultimately brought about healing in their relationships.

The Story of Rachel and Leah

A man named Jacob begins working for Laban. He notices Laban’s younger daughter Rachel and falls in love with her.

After Laban asks Jacob what his wages should be, it is noted that Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, ‘I’ll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel.’” (Genesis 29:18).

When those seven years are over the father then plays a big switcheroo on Jacob and gives him the older sister, Leah, instead on his wedding night. After figuring out what happened, Jacob is then married to Rachel a week later but only after he promises to work another seven years for Laban.

There are many lessons we can learn from this story, but to me, it’s the emotional undercurrent that I am most fascinated with. The rejection, jealousy, and the desire to be pursued are emotions that are still familiar in this modern day. Let’s take a look at 3 of the ways Leah and Rachel’s story can teach us about the security we can only find in God.

1. What God Considers Unfading Beauty

Have you ever felt left out, looked over, or rejected? It can be clear that Jacob’s negative reaction to waking up with Leah as his bride, and not his desired pick Rachel, was taken by Leah as a flashing neon sign of rejection. To be fair, it was Laban that is to blame for this wife swap, but I know as well as you do that Leah felt looked over.

In the Bible, she is first described as having “weakeyes, but Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful.” (Genesis 29:17) If the only adjectives used to describe me in a story were that I had weak eyes, well, I wouldn’t feel very good about myself.

How does this sit with you? Do we still tend to prioritize the qualities we notice about ourselves or others on physical characteristics first? Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight” (1 Peter 3:3-4).

I am grateful for this verse as it reminds me that what God sees as greater worth to the kingdom is not the outward beauty but the heart within. I like to take care of myself and, while I know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I also know that my body and physical strength will fade with time. As we will see as this story unfolds, the sister with the more outward adornment isn’t as strong on the inside as she hoped.

So, what do we take from this? Security only found in our outward appearance with no internal strength of faith and endurance will not last the good fight.

God makes no mistakes and although our human eyes will find pleasure in one person more than another, and for good reason (ex: marriage), we must not bank on our attractiveness to be all that we stand on.

As we will see for Rachel, the security one would expect a person to have that is deemed lovely and beautiful was temporary as her jealousy grew.

2. Jealousy Blinds Us to God’s Blessings

Jealousy is an ugly emotion and something that we all can, unfortunately, relate to. Jealousy can creep up into any type of situation and does not just affect one type of person more than another.

In the case of Leah and Rachel, I think it’s safe to say that both of them had to deal with the ugly side of jealousy by feeling it themselves and being on the receiving end.

Starting with Leah, we see at the very beginning that she is not only described as the less attractive sister but also that her father used the fact of her being the oldest and still single sister as reason to trick Jacob into marrying her first.

I can’t put words into her mouth or thoughts into her head, but I think it would be safe to say that Leah may have had some jealousy at the attention that her younger sister received over her.

It was noted that Jacob’s “…love for Rachel was greater than his love for Leah.” (Genesis 29:30).

Because of this, God gave special attention to Leah, and enabled her to have four sons.  

Because of Leah’s blessing to bear Jacob children, this in turn, created jealousy inside of Rachel. “When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, ‘Give me children, or I’ll die!’” (Genesis 30:1).

Does this resonate with you? You pray for something, wait earnestly, receive the blessing, and then the ugly monster of jealousy says, “It’s not enough!”

God did bless Rachel with conceiving a child but because she wanted more, as jealousy had its way, she became pregnant again. Unfortunately, Rachel died in childbirth.

Did jealousy ultimately kill Rachel? That’s between her and God, but it does seem her rage to one-up her sister in heirs took her life in an awful downward spiral.

We learn from Rachel that if we aren’t grateful for the blessings we have, and trust that God is enough, jealousy will always make us want more, insatiably.

3. God Pursues Us, even if No One Else Does

As a woman, we are designed to be pursued. It’s by God’s design that our hearts race when we are pursued in a romantic relationship by a man that our heart also desires.

As we see in Jacob’s deep desire for Rachel to be his bride, he worked for Laban not just 7 years, but 14 years even with a big switcheroo played on him in the middle. I am sure that made Rachel feel like the queen of the ball that a man desired her that much.

On the opposite side, we can only imagine the deep longing that Leah had to be wanted by Jacob. She bore him multiple children and it was clear that each time she would hope that he would finally want her as he did Rachel. “Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” (Genesis 29:14)

This probably hits pretty close to many of our single hearts. Watching other women being pursued, taken care of, and loved by a man that is the physical manifestation of love here on earth can be hard.

Feeling overlooked or not good enough can be a deep hurt and can snowball into feelings of being less than, forgotten, or the fear of not being wanted just because you haven’t been picked yet.

I love how God had a special place in his heart for Leah. You see, God enabled Leah to have four sons because “… the Lord saw that Leah was unloved…” (Genesis 29:31). God saw the rejection that Leah faced, and knew what having sons would mean to her.

He saw how she was not loved as she deserved to be and because of her age or lack of suitors she was married to a man that desired someone else… her own sister. Her security eventually turns from a human to her heavenly Father. He stills pursues her heart, even if no one else did.

The blessing we see in Leah’s life is that her dependence on Jacob’s love and attention slowly turns toward God.

We see this when she was naming her fourth child, Judah, “She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” (Genesis 29:35).

Rachel, in Genesis, the first book of the Hebrew Bible, one of the two wives of the patriarch Jacob. Forced to serve Rachel’s father, Laban, for seven years to win her, Jacob was tricked at the end of that time into marrying her sister, Leah. He was then allowed to marry Rachel as well, in return for seven more years of labour. At first childless, Rachel eventually gave birth to Joseph and died giving birth to Benjamin.