Leah—Gen. 29-35; 46: 15, 18; 49:31; Ruth 4:11;
Rachel—Gen. 29-35; 46: 19,22, 25; 48:7; Ruth 4:11; 1 Sam. 10:2; Jer. 31:15; Matt. 2:18;
Leah and Rachel were the daughters of Laban, brother of Rebekah. Leah was the older one and Rachel was the younger daughter. Genesis 29:17 says, ‘ Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance’. Jacob, the son of Rebekah, loved Rachel as he met her first time when she was shepherding her father’s flock. She was a shepherdess. He served Laban for 7 years to get married to Rachel, but he gets cheated by Laban. He gets married to Leah first and then as per Laban’s condition, he then gets married to Rachel after serving him again for another 7 years.
Positives of Leah and Rachel
- Her favour in the eyes of the Lord
Though, it was not the mistake of Leah to fall in the trap of her father’s plan, she was hated by her husband and Rachel, she longed for her husband’s love. But, God looked at Leah’s state and opened her womb.
- Her faith, trust and hope on the Lord.
We can clearly see Leah’s faith, trust and hope on the Lord whenever she named her children. In Genesis 29:32-35, we see she praising God saying,’ The Lord has seen my afflictions,this
time I will praise the Lord.’
- Responsible and Hardworking
Bible says, she was a shepherdess; she was taking care of her father’s flock. Being a shepherdess is not an easy job, she had to keep the flock intact, protect them from predators and carefully guide them. This shows she was hardworking and responsibly taking care of her flock. Also, it could be because Leah had weak eyes, she could’ve taken the responsibility of shepherding the sheep.
- Her transformation
Genesis 30:22 says, ‘Then God remembered Rachel, and He listened to her and opened her womb’. This verse starts with then, looks like in the process Rachel would’ve become humble and prayed a lot, therefore God listened to her. This shows her humility, her prayer life and her gradual transformation towards good.
Negatives of Leah and Rachel
Leah was not a responsible elder sister. She didn’t correct when Rachel was wrong instead she was competing with her in having children.
- Selfish motive
We see she cleverly made use of the opportunity for her own selfish gain. When Rachel was hungry and asked for her son’s mandrakes, she used that opportunity and made a deal with Rachel. Later, she even commanded her husband that she bought him with her son’s mandrakes. She used the opportunity for her selfish motive rather than helping her sister Rachel.
- Her Pride
She had the pride of being loved by her husband Jacob more than her sister and hence she started disliking her sister and built hatred towards her.
- Her Envy
She envied Leah and started competing with her by asking her servant Bilhah to bear a child for her. As she envied her own sister, she didn’t set a good example to her children. We see the nature of envy continuing to the next generation in the story of Joseph and his brothers.
- Her trust on man more than God
Genesis 30:1 says, ‘When Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she envied her sister. She said to Jacob “Give me children, or I shall die!”. Here we see her hope on her husband Jacob, who is just a man. She didn’t hope and trust that God is the ultimate giver of everything.
- Her trust was neither on God nor on her husband
When Jacob said we’ll leave everything here and go back to his land. She thought she need to have some inheritance of her father, so she stole her father’s household god. Eventually she got into the curse of her own husband by carrying her father’s god. This also shows how she had blind trust and hope on idols.
- Her dissatisfaction
Though, all her life she prayed for a child, when God listened and blessed her with Joseph. She still prayed God bless me with another son. This shows she was not satisfied with God’s blessings and while she was delivering her second son, she had to go through a hard labour and she named her son as Benoni -‘son of sorrow’, later Jacob changed to Benjamin –‘son of my right hand’.
Learnings from the life of Leah and Rachel
- We must not develop sibling rivalry. We must not envy or compete with our siblings. Envy is a sin. James 3:16 says, ‘For where envy and self seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.’
- Rachel learned it the hard way; not to trust man but to trust God. We must always trust God because every good thing comes from Him and comes in His own time.
- We must learn to praise God for every gift we receive, just as Leah praised God for every child of hers. She even named her son Judah which means Praise.
- We must set a good example to our children. Our children imitate us, therefore we must showcase godly values to our children.
- A blessing which was pronounced on Ruth was ‘ The Lord make the women who is coming to your house like Rachel and Leah, the two who built the house of Israel’(Ruth 4:11). Leah and Rachel indeed built the house of Israel- 12 sons and a daughter. God can work His will inspite of human imperfections, motives and emotions. Leah and Rachel had imperfections as all men and women do, but inspite of those, God used them to build the house of Israel. God has called us to be perfect. Our imperfections, though doesn’t affect God’s plan but at the same time it’s not an excuse for us to continue in our imperfection. We must strive and make every effort to become perfect.