She is a ruler and a visionary. She gives birth to kings and priests. Yet she is another greatly maligned and misunderstood woman of God. I am going to challenge all the wrong thoughts and slanders about Leah —the gentle hearted, caring, beautiful and godly mother of many nations. She is both spiritually and physically beautiful in God’s eyes. Here is a long list of facts that dispel the previous wrong teachings about Leah. There are many Bible verses about Leah’s life, far more important than those about Rachel. Let Leah come alive in my writing and your reading. (Genesis 29:16-35; 30:1-21; 46:15; 49:30-31) (Also read the genealogy background: 11:26-29; 24:15,29; 25:20; 29:16)
- She has great spiritual and physical beauty inside and outside: Leah, comes from a lineage of famous world beauties. Kings and princes fell in love with them. How is Leah related to Sarah? She is the great grand-daughter of Milcah, Sarah’s niece. Sarah is stunningly beautiful even in old age (12:14-15; 20:2). Leah’s aunt Rebekah (Laban’s sister) is another great beauty (24:16). Leah’s only daughter Dinah is also very beautiful. A powerful prince fell madly in love with her and died for her. (Genesis 34:3) Leah’s twin sister, Rachel, is another stunning beauty (29:17). Leah has to be beautiful!
- She has the birth right: Leah is the first born (29:26). She is qualified to inherit the double blessings God has designated and recorded in heaven for her. She knows and takes hold of her entitlement with courage and positive actions. She heard of the twin sons of her beautiful aunt Rebekah who married Isaac. She was supposed to marry the elder twin Esau but she found out that he is godless, idolatry, carnal and cruel (a merciless hunter) to animals. (Hebrews 12:16) He is not interested in the matter of God or worship Him. He even sold his divinely appointed first born birthright to his younger twin Jacob, a godly man. By doing such a sacrilege Esau has lost his right to marry Leah.
- The beautiful eyes are the window to her soul: Leah and Laban know that God has a great destiny for Jacob and Leah is the first born with the equal right and entitlement to that destiny. She has beautiful attractive eyes, a gentle and beautiful heart for God and worship Him only. She is a worthy daughter of God who can raise up the whole nation of Israel. Kings and priests will come from her lineage. “The eyes of your spirit allow revelation-light to enter into your being. If your heart is unclouded, the light floods in!” (TPT Matthew 6:22)
- What went wrong? Why did Jacob want to marry Rachel? Because he saw her first and he was attracted to her physically (29:10-11, 17-18, 20). Jacob was already an old man of 78-year-old when he first saw this beautiful young woman. Obviously he was physically youthful and fit as he later worked for seven years in order to marry her. His parents gave him a clear instruction —go to his uncle’s house and ask his uncle for a wife from his daughters. The custom is to to marry off the firstborn (older) daughter and Leah is the rightful bride. Jacob did not obey his parents’ instruction. He went to the well instead to meet this shepherdess. In a former time, Abraham’s servant prayed and was led by the Lord to the well for the divine appointment with Rebekah, who was sent there by God. Jacob was not led by the Lord on this occasion. Disobedience causes him to miss God’s way. Rachel is beautiful in her face and her body (29:17). Any single man would fall for her at first sight (unfortunately for Jacob, without knowing her inside). Rachel is a carnal, idolatry woman. She stole her father’s household gods when Jacob took his family (Leah and Rachel and their children), servants and possessions, left Laban (his father-in-law) and returned to Isaac (his own father). (31:30)
- Leah knows God: The Bible describes the two sisters differently. Leah is described to have tender eyes. She is a gentle-hearted, loving, caring woman of God. She considers others. She is willing to bear the disappointment, hurt and pain in her heart without talking to others about them. She talks to God. She believes that God will make compensate and comfort her. She asks God for help. she gives names to her own six sons, a daughter and her maid’s two sons. Jacob has no say or does not bother with his children. The names of her sons are: Reuben: Behold A Son, Son Of Vision (God has given her a son for Jacob); Simeon: He Who Hears (God hears her); Levi: Joined, Joiner (God has joined Jacob to her); Judah: Praised, Let Him Be Praised (She praises God for all that He has done for her and for Jacob, her beloved husband); Gad: to cut, invade and expose (a troop of warriors for God’s army and kingdom); Asher: happy, to go right on (God has given her joy, comfort and rest); Issachar: Man Of Hire, He Is Wages, There Is Recompense (God has given her concrete benefits like wages for her hard efforts and generosity to others); Zebulun: Instance Of Exaltation and honor, Glorious Dwelling Place (God has given her honor, exaltation, a good dwelling place for her husband and her). (29:16-17, 23, 31-35; 30:9-13, 14-21; 35:23)
- She is a ruler and a visionary. She is fit to give birth to kings and priests: What does Leah’s name mean? Many say it means “weary” for weak and weary eyes. Few know that in fact the name Leah originates from the Assyrian language and means ruler, with the qualities of a ruler and visionary. She names her only daughter Dinah which means judge. (30:21) Leah is not weak at all. She is a stable and strong woman of God because she knows God and believes in His words and promises for her, her husband and their children. When Rachel is shepherding the sheep with her father and brothers in the field, Leah is the one who takes charge of the whole household. There is no mention of her mother who could have died young. After marrying, seeing how weak Jacob is, how else do you think their children can be raised to become the twelve tribes of Israel nation? Rachel is idolatry and dies young (at the birth of her second son Benjamin) while on the way back to the promised land. Jacob is not interested in anyone but himself and secondly, Rachel and her two sons). The true leader is therefore Leah, the matriarch in spirit and in practical living, the one whose name means ruler and visionary. No, God has not used a spiritually weak and short-vision woman to birth forth a nation. Leah is the comforter and steadfast helper to Jacob.
- Leah’s exceptional eye: Do you ever think Leah has no other more qualified and worthy suitors? Laban is a rich and influential man in their hometown. Leah comes from a famous lineage of beautiful women. She is the first born. She is godly, wise, kind, gentle and generous. She is young and capable and rules her area of household responsibilities well, and she is also a visionary who dares to dream and talks about her great destiny (she has heard from God in her close walk with God.) She comes from the same family of Abraham. Many fellow countrymen would have heard of the godly visionary Abraham’s story and the blessings he has received. The discerning young men in town would have noticed her exceptional worth and potential for greatness. Surely Leah has many suitors. But she has set her heart and eye on God’s heart and God’s eye. Her eye is exceptional. God has singled her eye out. Because she can see what others cannot.
The story of Leah is one of heartbreak. Her love is sacrificial, visionary, and based on God’s promises. It is never ever any cheap blind love. Jacob is deliberately hurting and insulting to Leah in his public declaration of ardent love for Rachel, the shapelier (perhaps more voluptuous) wife, Rachel. Jacob uses her and her children as human shield to protect Rachel and her children, and him from Esau’s likely attack. Genesis 32:8, 33:2 And he put the maidservants and their children in front, Leah and her children behind, and Rachel and Joseph last. Jacob thinks that if Esau attacks those (the maids, his unfavored wife Leah and her children) in front, he and his favorite wife and children can escape. How did Leah respond? She does not respond to such petty carnal unbelief. Just as Jesus has so much love to give and longs for us to return that love but people just outright reject him for some physical attractiveness of this world —the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life that alienate people from God. Jesus faithfully went to the cross, unloved by many. He defeated the power of sin and death. He gave birth to many spiritual children, many nations! Leah is a type for Christ. She faithfully loves and not hates. She continues to bear many children and gives birth to the Israel nation, which in turn births forth many nations through her one crucial human descendent, Jesus (from the Judah tribe).
How does Leah really love Jacob? Bear in mind the huge age gap when they first met: Jacob was born in 2006BC and he fled to Laban in 1928BC at the age of 78 years. He married Leah in 1921BC at an age of 85. He wasn’t a dashing young man when he came to their house and proposed to marry one of Laban’s daughters. And yet Leah loves Jacob to the point of taking the bother to give birth to six sons and one daughter for him! What kind of love is that? In Genesis 29:30 and 29:32, Leah wants to be loved, Strong’s 157. Aheb (Achev), the love that Jacob loved Rachel, but not Leah.
“Aahav/chav is a love that has been wounded but continues to love. It can still be unconditional love, it can be a nurturing love, a caring love and have all the same elements of racham except like our first love there is a tinge of sadness, bitterness to ‘ahav/chav, an unpleasant memory.” —a Hebrews teacher. It can even mean: like, friend. But Jacob does not even like Leah as a friend. The Bible describes her as being “unloved” (Strong’s 8130: detested, hated intensely, turned against) by her husband. Leah could have married someone much younger, her own age group, but she has chosen to marry an old man like Jacob, just because she knows her destiny of greatness in Israel’s history.
Her sister Rachel has a sad end. She died in giving birth to her second son, Benjamin, after a brief marriage of 18 years to Jacob. Jacob inadvertently cursed her on their way fleeing from Laban, not knowing that she was the culprit who stole the idols from Laban. Genesis 31:32, 35:19. Leah was left to comfort Jacob when Rachel died and help raise her sister’s children.
Leah has a good ending: Jacob has to live the rest of his long life with Leah, possibly another 28 years before he moved his family to Egypt —Leah’s descendants contributed 33 out of sixty-six persons who came from Jacob’s body. Although the Bible does not record the death of Leah, Leah was given the honor to be buried in the family grave, together with Jacob, Isaac and Rebekah, and Abraham and Sarah, while Rachel was buried somewhere by the way to Ephrath (Bethlehem). Genesis 35:19, 49:30-31. Even Jacob recognizes God’s plan and destiny for Leah. In Genesis 49:8-10 Jacob blesses Judah (Leah’s fourth son) to carry on the Messiah lineage as God has designated.
Leah’s story is one of heartbreak. But she trusts and holds fast to God’s everlasting love instead of man’s transient fickle love. In a way she presented a type of God’s love through Jesus, her human descendent. She was sustained by God’s love and her love for God through all those long years of loneliness in a loveless marriage. Isn’t that what true love is?
1 John 4:18-19 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love Him because He first loved us.