Sunday, February 23, 2014
The wedding night mixup is still bizarre to me when I read it. Was Leah an active planner in this debacle or simply a pawn to her father’s plans? Laban was a pretty shady guy, and double-crossed Jacob on more than one occasion. He was a swindler and an opportunist. While she was obviously involved, the narrative doesn’t tell us how much of it was her idea or if she was a voluntary participant. I suppose in the end, it doesn’t matter.
But the hits just keep coming for Leah. Her husband is very vocal about not loving her or wanting her, but he seems happy to keep sleeping with her: fulfilling her week and subsequently fathering six sons with her. 6! Women of that day measured success by their ability to bear sons, but hers didn’t seem to raise her in her husband’s esteem at all. How did that prey on her emotions? Her identity? Her self-image? Plus, how tormenting was it to watch her husband labor seven years to marry another person? Her younger, prettier sister no less? How bad could she be?
This time when I read the story though, something jumped out to me. The names of her sons, especially the first four:
Reuben. According to the notes in my Bible, Reuben sounds like the Hebrew for he has seen my misery. “It is because the Lord has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.” Genesis 29:32
Simeon. One who hears. “Because the Lord heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too.” Genesis 29:33
Levi. Derived from the Hebrew for attached. “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” Genesis 29:34
Judah. Derived from the Hebrew for praise. “This time I will praise the Lord.” Genesis 29:35
The names show both her pain and her faith, and it was the last two that really struck me. She’s the mother of the tribe of priests and the tribe of kings. And Jesus is described as the Lion of the tribe of Judah. Leah’s not one of the famous five women called out in the genealogy of Christ (poor girl, overlooked again), but there she is. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob+Leah. Not Rachel. Leah.
While Jacob only had room in his heart for Rachel, God had room in his for Leah. That's a pretty wonderful thing.
I’m so thankful for a heavenly father who doesn't overlook. He sees. He hears. He loves. He gives. Abundantly.