January 23 - Nº 23 Genesis 29:31-35; 30:1-24; 35:16-20
Life was not easy for Leah. She was the older and less attractive of Laban’s two daughters. Thinking it would be difficult for her to find a husband, Leah’s father had tricked Jacob into marrying her (see #22 - January 22). When Jacob discovered what had happened, he was furious. He did not want Leah to be his wife. I’m sure she felt humiliated as he stomped around demanding that Laban give him the “right” sister—the one he loved. By the end of Leah’s first week of marriage, Rachel had joined the family—as Jacob’s favorite wife. God knew how unloved Leah felt, so He granted her a special favor. She gave birth to Jacob’s first son. This was a big deal. Sons were vital to a family’s status and welfare. As the firstborn, Leah’s son would receive both “the birthright” and “the blessing” from his father. Leah named him Reuben, which meant “see, a son!” She wanted everyone to notice that she had given Jacob the greatest gift a man could receive in that culture. She thought, “Surely my husband will love me now.” But nothing changed. She conceived again and had another son named Simeon and then another named Levi. Each name signified her longing to be loved and wanted. But by the time her fourth son was born, something inside Leah had changed. She no longer needed her husband’s attention and approval to be happy. She found satisfaction in the realization that God loved her and had chosen to bless her. He had given her four sons—while Rachel had none. She named her new son Judah, which meant “God be praised.” Jacob had two more sons with Rachel’s servant girl, Bilhah. Rachel would raise them as her own. Two more sons came through Zilpah, Leah’s servant girl. And then Leah had two more sons and a daughter. Jacob prayed for his favorite wife, Rachel, to become pregnant. Finally, God allowed her to conceive. She had a son named Joseph. Several years later she died giving birth to Benjamin, and Jacob buried her in the desert. It is interesting to note that at the very end of his life, Jacob instructed his family, “Bury me with my fathers in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite . . . There Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried, there Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried, and there I buried Leah.” Did you notice that Leah was given the burial place of honor—in the tomb next to Jacob’s mother Rebekah, whom he loved so much? Is it possible that Jacob finally developed a love for Leah as she faithfully remained with him all those years and helped him raise his twelve sons? Regardless, two of the most important ancestral lines in history descended from her: Levi was the ancestor of all the priests of Israel, and Jesus Christ was a direct descendant of Judah. Although Leah did not always have Jacob’s love or approval, she certainly had God’s. He valued her greatly!
Is your happiness determined by the status of your relationships? Does your value depend on the approval of others? (If so, you will continually be disappointed and discouraged.) The only stable place to find our identity and determine our worth is in Jesus Christ.