The love of Jacob Rachel and Leah

jacob reb and lea

The word love is used 628 times in the scriptures. The two greatest commandments are to love the Lord God with all your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself. One of our ultimate goals is to learn to love the way God loves Love has many faces. It can be the romantic feelings between a man and a woman. It can be the feeling of a parent for a child or a child for a parent. It can be the tie that binds friends. It can be the way we feel about humanity in general. It can describe the relationship between God and man.

It is no surprise that we focus on the romantic feelings between a man and a woman. It is a natural part of our makeup to want to love and be loved. In fact, this kind of love penetrates our society at every level. Scholars talk about it; we sing about it; we watch it portrayed in movies; we dream about it; and I think we all hope it will happen to us.

If one ever doubted the power of love to transform individuals and direct the course of history, The bible understands and affirms the potency of love; it is a song of love itself. Just consider the fact that the young Jacob is forced to leave his parents’ ancestral home and wander into a lonely exile because of the lack of love – or at least the lack of loving communication – between Isaac and Rebecca. Whether Rebecca’s daring deception – an act which resulted in the destructive sibling hatred between her sons – was evidence of an arranged marriage which could not offer the benefit of a loving and beloved friendship, or whether it was built into the unequal situation of a match between an older, spiritual son of a path-breaking religionist who had just survived a near-sacrifice to his father’s God and a child-bride from a deceptive, rapacious family to whom God was an alien concept, is beside the point.

Doesn’t everyone love a love story where couples live happily ever after? Whether it’s a young man dropping to one knee to propose wedded bliss or a great grandpa slowly bending over to kiss his wife’s white-haired head as he rolls her in a wheelchair, these scenes bring warmth to our hearts. There is an old saying that goes, “True love never runs smoothly.” That’s the way it was with Jacob and Rachel. Jacob passionately loved Rachel at first sight. But his passion for her didn’t guarantee their marriage would run smoothly. When it comes to love at first sight men are often blinded by beautiful women. Men often say they fall hard within the first moment they see a certain woman. Men become blind and only take the sexy curves and crystal eyes into account, forgetting that she can turn out to be jealous or a vengeful vixen or both. But when a man is enamored of a woman, he does not want to hear those things. He is going to have her, and nothing else matters.

If you are familiar with the story in the bible, Jacob set his eyes on a beautiful maiden named Rachel. It was love at first site when he asked her father Laban for her hand in marriage, Laban told Jacob that he must first work for 7 years.  Those seven years seemed like ‘only a few days’ for Jacob because he loved Rachel so much. As promised by Jewish tradition Jacob is supposed to marry Rachel and his brother Esau is to marry Leah. Who is the eldest daughter of Laban? Rachel and Leah are actually twins, fourteen years old when Jacob came to their father’s house. Rachel is more beautiful than Leah. So he works the seven years for her hand in marriage. This is the beginning of Rachel’s problems Laban her father was not a trust worthy man and after seven years he deceived Jacob into marrying Leah.

Leah who heard about Esau has been praying that God send her someone else. The circumstances behind Leah’s marriage to Jacob are far more complex. Leah implores God through tears and prayer to change a heavenly decree that she marry Jacob’s brother Esau. She does not know how, when or if God will give her another opportunity to contribute to the fledgling nation. Within this context, if we re-examine Leah’s passivity in allowing Laban to substitute her for Rachel, her decision takes on a more purposeful, goal-oriented tone.

From Laban’s point of view, he can easily assume that once Jacob discovers his ruse, he may either divorce Leah or make her life miserable in an unhappy marriage. While neither of these scenarios would be acceptable to any normal father, Laban is more concerned with his own agenda, and he in fact threatens to kill Leah if she refuses to walk down the aisle. Leah’s decision to go along with Laban is not a response to his threat – given her caliber, she is not afraid to give her life for the right reason. She agrees because she senses Divine intervention in Laban’s irrational scheme, precisely because it is so out of the ordinary. She feels obligated not to resist his plot and to let God work through Laban according to His will.

It was dark. Leah wore a veil over her face. In Leah’s hour of need, Rachel performed the greatest act of self-sacrifice by relinquishing her own destined husband in order to spare Leah degradation. Imagine the thoughts racing through Rachel’s head as she was think about the success of the plan she and Jacob had devised to out smart Laban, the quintessential crafty person. But then Rachel thought about Leah and what would happen to her if she were unmasked at the ceremony. Rachel thought about the shame Leah would endure if she was discovered and decided that she could not put her sister through the shame. In a flash, not thinking about the sacrifice she was making, Rachel ran to Leah and shared the secret code. At this moment Rachel never dreamed she would marry Jacob; all she knew was that she had to protect her sister from tremendous embarrassment.

Jacob had no ideal until morning, when it was too late. Leah was now his wife, but his heart was sold to Rachel. Rachel and Jacob were very much in love but the deception of Rachel’s father had hurt her badly. It produced hurt and bitterness in her heart that she never overcame. Bitterness is like poison to the soul. It destroys a person. As women of God we need to be careful of the hurts and emotional wounds that may follow us from our childhood and bad relationships. Jacob was very angry when the next morning he found Leah beside him instead of Rachel. Angrily, he demanded of Laban, “What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn’t I? Why have you deceived me?”  The conniving Laban replied, “It is not our custom to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one. Finish this daughter’s bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of labor.”  Laban should have told Jacob about this “custom” seven years earlier, but he didn’t. Instead, he deceived Jacob, and connived a way to get seven more years of free labor out of him. In those days, God hadn’t condemned multiple wives, so it was pretty common.

Poor Leah! Her husband was tricked into marrying her in the first place; a ploy concocted by her father, who perhaps figured no man would choose his oldest daughter, Leah, on his own. My heart goes out to Leah most likely had hopes and dreams of being happily married, just like every other woman of her day (and ours). All she wanted was for her husband, Jacob, to love her. But Jacob loved Leah’s sister, Rachel. And not only did Leah live with that hurt, but she was probably reminded daily of how she was second best to her beautiful younger sister.

Can you imagine the dread in her heart or imagine it ripped a hole into Leah’s heart to hear her new husband complain that he’d gotten her instead, after giving her all to him the night before I am sure she hoped he would love her, but I assume she didn’t get much sleep that night wondering what would happen when the bomb dropped the next morning. Rejection, tears self doubt. Leah loved Jacob, but that same kind of love was not returned. Perhaps day after day she heard of all the reasons her husband would rather be with Rachel than with her. Leah probably carried some deep hurts in her heart, as I imagine any woman would who has to hear of her shortcomings and why her husband would prefer to be with someone else.

Leah loved Jacob but the same kind of love was not returned. Jacobs love for her was out of obligation. I imagine she probably need and anti depressant or a drink.  I want you to think about it 24 hours after getting married, your husband or wife runs away from your bed to the arms of someone else; but not just anybody your sister or your brother. Ouch!  That has got to hurt Tricking someone into marriage is dangerous business, but it is still being done today. Some women try to buy a man with sex, or trap him with a baby, or lure him with family fortune. A man may also trap a woman by promising wealth, or trick a woman by pretending to be something he is not, masking his faults until after the ceremony. It may not take any longer than the honeymoon for his wife to discover that she married a monster she never really knew. The consequences of deception are usually painful and distressing.

Leah had some serious emotions to deal with, she must have loved Jacob and despised her sister; but can you imagine how Jacob felt? The bible says when Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted his voice and wept” The emotion of the moment overwhelmed him. The miracle of God’s guidance and care, the thrill of meeting his pretty cousin, the prospect of what the future would hold—all of it filled his heart so full that he wept for joy. We frown on a man expressing his emotions like this, but honestly expressing one’s feelings might promote greater emotional health and greater marital stability. He went to bed thinking he was making love to the woman of his dreams and woke up to a nightmare Jacob woke the morning sun glowing in his tent and gazed upon his beloved, it was Leah.  What he said to Leah we can only imagine. He had whispered Rachel’s name a hundred of time to Leah in the night, and she played her sister with passion.  Oh the betrayal, the hurt the embarrassment, the rage. I want you to just imagine you dreamt of making love to the person you love and wake up to find it’s her.

He then talks to his father in- law who gives him some excuse. Now we must remember that Jacob caused part of this heart ache himself.  He schemed to gain the inheritance and birthright that belonged to his brother. If Jacob didn’t deceive his father, he would not have run away. He would not have married Leah. As a result of his scheming he got what he was due. If only he had been patient and waited on the Lord. I speak from experience patience is a hard pill to swallow sometimes. But we live and learn.

I now want you to imagine how Rachel felt on that night. She loved Jacob as much as he loved her. For seven years she has watched him work for her father, knowing at the end of the seven years, he would be hers when she looked at him saw her best friend, his energy and passion inspire her in ways she never thought possible. Jacobs’s inner beauty, so strong, that she no longer feared being herself.  She knows longer fear at all. Rachel never thought that she could find someone that she could love, and who would lover her back unconditionally. She realizes that although they were apart he was always with her, he was her soul mate. He gives her purpose when she felt she had none. Without Jacob her soul would be empty, her heart broken, and incomplete. She thanked God everyday that he brought him into her life, and for loving her. I want you to imagine like most women you’ve waited all your life for the love of your life only to lose him to someone else. I know she must have wept. I know what she felt like; she felt as if someone took her heart and ripped it apart. My heart goes out to her I understand how she felt. Bitterness is like poison to the soul. It can destroy a person.

Jacob and Rachel were married at last. Jacob worked for his uncle another seven years. He would have gladly worked a hundred, he loved her so deeply.

 

Laban really hurt Leah, didn’t he? Laban really hurt Jacob, and yet if you understand how God used Laban in their lives, you will see that it was only because of all Laban’s tricks and all his meanness that Jacob becomes humbled. Because of their fathers actions deceiving Jacob into marrying Leah affect both sisters for life. If there wasn’t a rivalry between Rachel and Leah it started the day the love saga began. Leah was crossed eyes, but Rachel was beautiful. I think Leah may have even had a self esteem issue. In her mind her twin sister had it all and it included her husband. Leah suffered because of greed and manipulation of deceiving men, she probably felt as if she was thrown into hell.

There is much more to this love triangle between Jacob, Rachel and Leah. So many more details I would love to focus on; but one I will say Leah unloved one was the loved one. She gave birth to Judah which is the line Christ came from.  I wonder if she knew how blessed she was. The two sisters never reconciled with each other. It’s a strange story, this love story. We could learn a lot from them. The rivalry between the sisters is a reminder to me to focus on my relationships with other and develop them to the fullest. Jacob teaches me, a strong work effort and to follow my heart.  I believe when you fall in love, love deeply and fully from the tips of your fingers to the tips of your toes. It’s once in a lifetime. You have one soul mate. No one else will fit no matter how hard you try to make them. Jacob loved Rachel and it didn’t matter how unworthy he may have felt because of his past mistakes. He loved Rachel and his heart belonged to her. He didn’t give up until he could be with her. Rachel teaches me I should not question “why” when God allows thing to happen in my life, even if I don’t understand. This is a love story you should review with a different perspective.

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