Summary of passages: Genesis 29:31-30:24: The Lord gave Leah children because she was unloved by Jacob while Rachel remained barren. She had Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah.
Rachel became jealous of Leah and demanded children from Jacob (like it’s Jacob’s fault. Why doesn’t she go to God?). Which Jacob not so kindly pointed out to her. So Rachel offered up her maidservant, Bilhah, in her place (does NO one learn around here?). Bilhah had Dan and Naphtali and Rachel felt she won over her sister.
So what does Leah do? She wants revenge. So she offers up her servant, Zilpah, to Jacob to have kids with (Jacob apparently is loving this). Zilpah had Gad and Asher.
[The next scene is unbelievable!]
Reuben brings Leah some mandrake plants. Rachel wants some so she trades a night with Jacob for some. Leah sleeps with Jacob and becomes pregnant with Issachar. Leah had another son named Zebulun (but she is apparently not honored by Jacob). Then she had a daughter named Dinah.
Rachel prayed to God (finally) and He heard her. He blessed her with a son named Joseph. Then she prayed for another.
Genesis 35:16-20: Rachel gave birth to Benjamin and she died in the process.
6a) Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, and Benjamin.
b) God completely disagrees with favoritism as we see in 29:31 when we are told the reason God blesses Leah with children is because she was not loved by Jacob (but is this fair to Rachel?)
c) She was comforted with sons but to me her words don’t show a lot of comfort because she is still hoping Jacob will love her with each birth and he never does. Pray and accept it willingly.
7a) To be loved by her husband (but isn’t this her fault as well? She married him knowing he did not love her.). No, she was never loved.
b) Leah is in heaven. But Jacob’s sons became the 12 Tribes of Israel (including hers). Levi’s was set apart as priests. The royal line was through the tribe of Judah. And Christ came through Leah (the line of Judah), not Rachel.
c) 2 Corinthians tells us to not lose heart for inwardly we are being renewed day by day and our momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that outweighs anything we are going through on earth. God doesn’t forget us in our earthly struggles. He comforts us in different ways (for Leah a child) and for us through His word, through a friend, our kids, our spouse, our pets, strangers, prayer, church, or something material. He is there in the unseen.
Conclusions: Was I the only one wondering why is Jacob having sex with Leah if he didn’t love her? Conjugal duties only? Sex is supposed to be the ultimate show of love and bonding of a man and a woman as one. So why is Jacob just “going through the motions” here? Or is he just shunning the meaning of sexual intercourse and engaging callously, especially when Leah herself says she is unloved?
Jacob could have ended all of the jealously between sisters if he had just honored the marriage vows. And kept his pants zipped. But Jacob is of the flesh. He couldn’t overcome his desires.
It seems to me all of this is Jacob’s fault. Sure, you could argue Laban was at fault for substituting Leah in place of Rachel (but shouldn’t Jacob have checked before getting it on with her?) but Jacob is 100% responsible as the man of the household for decisions. He’s also responsible for who he sleeps with and who he doesn’t.
He could have ended all of this but he must have been enjoying having 4 women as wives and all the in-fighting over his affections. Not only could he have stopped the sex part, but he could have FORBIDDEN the rivalry as the man of the household. Instead, he stood by. And watched his family become more and more dysfunctional every day. He’s definitely egotistical and likes to have his ego stroked.
This whole passage is just utterly sad. Here we have 2 sisters, competing with each other, and using children as the weapon!! The kids have become trophies so to speak and it becomes a competition of who has more!! How sad! We have 2 sisters who are blood allowing a man to separate them and cause one ugly feud that must have been wretched for the entire household. And we have the man who plays one wife off the other by refusing to zip his pants! He probably would have slept with more servants if offered! Sad all around!
Leah was comforted by God to a point. But she repeatedly says how she’s trying to earn Jacob’s affection. This is a sin. For God should be enough. God is NOT her center. For if God had been, she wouldn’t have needed Jacob to fill the need deep inside of her that only God can fill in all of us.
Can you imagine growing up in this environment? Can you imagine how the children felt? Obviously there is tension. They learned it from their mothers. And saw their father stand by and do nothing to stop it. Who can blame the brothers when they throw Joseph down the well? With these two as mothers it’s no wonder! And no father to lead!
Great reason why there should only be one man and one woman in a relationship (as God intended). But Leviticus 18:18 had to outlaw specifically no marriage with sisters. Any one guess why?
Explanation on the mandrake plant: Why all the fuss over this plant? Why would Rachel trade a night with her husband to Leah for it? It had to be pretty valuable stuff. And it was (at least so it was thought).
Mandrakes are a plant that is thought to increase fertility in women. It is the root of the plant and it is translated as “love-apples” in Hebrew. It worked in Leah’s case!
We should see now the sovereignty of God over childbirth. He opens wombs and closes them repeated throughout the Bible. As He does today. We also see His grace. When women (or husband’s) pray, God answers and opens wombs. Great lesson for those struggling to have a baby.
Rachel pays the ultimate price for this competition: with her life. She asked Jacob for children or she would die (Genesis 30:1). She got both. This was also the fulfillment of the curse Jacob pronounced in Genesis 31:32.
Final Note: Everyone sinned here. But the sin could have stopped. All it would have taken would have been only ONE of them to stand up and say “No more!”. Rachel didn’t. Leah didn’t. And Jacob didn’t. And so the sin perpetuated. And into the next generation as the kids learned from their parents’ examples.
This is the lesson for us all. It only takes one party in a conflict to stand up for what is right, for their beliefs, for God’s will and word, and say “No more!”